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World Economic Forum Calls for Speedy Implementation of Millennium Development Goals


The World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland has called for renewed commitment to the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, MGDs, aimed at halving extreme poverty, boosting health and education and further empowering women across the developing world by 2015. VOA's Barry Wood reports from Davos.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown says the world needs to be aware that the development goals are not being met.

"There is a development and poverty emergency around the world," he said. "If we do not act, we will have no opportunity to reach the millennium development goals by 2015. We must summon everyone who is concerned about this."

Mr. Brown said there is a particular shortfall in achieving universal primary education as present trends suggest that goal may not be reached for 100 years. He said the goal of reducing infant mortality by 75 percent may not be reached until 2050.

Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua said Africa suffers from a lack of adequate infrastructure in health, transport and education. He promised to step up efforts to meet development goals.

"We are going to apply ourselves and deploy resources to target the particular objectives of the MDGs. And we'll work day and night with renewed effort and renewed commitment," he said.

The Davos event, which draws heads of state, cabinet ministers and corporate chiefs, has long been criticized for trumpeting big ideas on big issues in public, while the leaders actually expend most of their energy on backroom deals.

Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, a perennial Davos participant, says corporations have a large role to play in eliminating poverty.

His foundation announced a $300 million grant to assist small farmers in developing countries.

Gates applauded the forum's call for action, saying it is important to have a report card on the progress made since world leaders signed on to the goals in 2000.

"We are drawing in more people," he said. "We can make more progress. And it is important to be part of this endeavor. It is the most important work in the world."

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon endorsed the Forum's call to action and said the U.N. will call leaders together in September to assess progress and make suggestions on what more must be done.

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