July 31, 2007

Urgent action needed

Filed under: Development — 4fooey @ 10:37 pm

During 2 days in America, UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown has set out his agenda, no less than solving the ‘big’ problems of the world (disease, poverty, illiteracy, environmental degradation), and stressing the need for urgent action on many of these problems. In his Camp David meetings with President Bush he reaffirmed his commitment to the relationship with the US, and the need to stand together with the US, while on the following day at the UN he spelled out the need for urgent ACTION with regard to meeting the Development Goals agreed in 2000 by virtually every country in the world. Also during Brown’s visit a large peacekeeping force was announced for Darfur – it’s about time this sort of action was taken for Darfur in which it is estimated over 200,000 people have died. Brown’s call to action is reported here: Brown’s UN call on global poverty and his speech in full is here: In full: Brown’s speech at UN. Here are some extracts:

“The situation in Darfur is the greatest humanitarian disaster the world faces today. Over 200,000 dead, 2 million displaced and 4 million on food aid… The message for Darfur is that it is time for change.”

“And I am here to say that its also time for change so that we can meet the world’s millennium development goals… the goals the world has set are not being met and we face an emergency – a development emergency – and we need emergency action if we are to meet them… The Millennium Development Goal of 2000, to be met in 2015, is primary education for every child.
Unless we act it will not be met by 2015, not even by 2050 but at best by 2100.”

“[On all seven development goals] we are we are a million miles away from success.”

“Education is not only the most economically efficient and socially beneficial investment we can make but also the cheapest and most cost effective. For in the developing world it costs just $100 per child per year for schooling. Just $2 a week. And so to finance all the schools and teachers we need costs $9 billion a year. For every person in the richest part of the world that is less than two pence a day, or four cents, a day. If every person in the rich world contributes £10 – or $20 – a year today, we could meet our education goal tomorrow.”

You can hardly disagree with any of his words, but you do wonder how this is all going to be achieved – the sad thing is that this is all do-able, the main developed countries just need the will to do it. I hope Gordon Brown can make a difference on the world stage – I firmly believe his commitment and determination to make a difference, so let’s hope he has some success.

As a postscript, I would add the problem of international terrorism to the list of problems that need urgent resolution, and I would argue that terrorism is linked to poverty, injustice, and human rights. Much of the terrorism and conflict in the world has political, historical or geographical motivations of one sort or another, or poverty and injustice (the latter can be real or perceived). Such issues are never justification for violence, but they are often the reason for conflicts, so to solve a conflict the motivations need to be addressed. We do face an uncertain future if terrorists are allowed to wreak large-scale havoc, and in this case everyone would suffer. Even more reason to address the lack of success on the Development Goals.


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