News / Economy

UN Summit Ends with Continuing Debate Over Millennium Development Goals

U.S. President Barack Obama addresses world leaders during the General Assembly at the United Nations, New York, 23 Sept. 2010
U.S. President Barack Obama addresses world leaders during the General Assembly at the United Nations, New York, 23 Sept. 2010
William Eagle

The three-day U.N. summit reviewing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is over, but the push to achieve them is not. Development activists continue to press for increased financial support from industrialized countries and for improved strategies for achieving the MDGs by 2015.

US policy

In an address to the United Nations General Assembly Thursday, President Barack Obama said U.S. policy will emphasize incentives for economic growth over food or financial aid, and encourage countries to come up with practical policies for achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

And, he reiterated the criteria set forth by the U.S. Agency for International Development for measuring the success of the MDG's: They include the use of new and sustainable technologies combined with mutual accountability and improved tracking of development outcomes.

Greg Adams is the Director of Aid Effectiveness at Oxfam-America. He welcomed President Obama's strategy for reaching the goals, though he says more needs to be done.

The Obama administration is focusing on boosting food production as a means of reducing extreme hunger
The Obama administration is focusing on boosting food production as a means of reducing extreme hunger

"A couple of things we need him to do," Adams said. "We hope he will work with Congress to re-write the laws regarding [U.S.] Government foreign assistance because right now they are a tangled web of conflicting authorities that we need to clear up.

And, we also hope President Obama will include USAID Adminstrator Rajiv Shah, in as many National Security Council meetings as possible. One of the aims of the new policy is to elevate the voice of development in overall government foreign policy and right now as the main foreign policy body in the White House sits down to talk,  there is no development voice at the table."

Peer review

Oxfam urges donors, including the leading industrialized nations, or G8, to keep promises made at their summit in Glenneagles, Scotland, five years ago to increase aid by $50 billion by 2010. So far, the development group notes, only about $30 billion has been received.

It also wants to improve the accountability of national leaders for the progress made on reaching the MDGs.

Irungu Houghton, Oxfam's Pan Africa Director in Nairobi, Kenya, says peer review should be a part of the yearly year summits where heads of state gather to review the goals.

"[We should think] more creatively how the president of an African country could be questioned by an Indian or Brazilian colleagues or vice versa [as] an important way of developing a dialogue where no head of state would come to the forum without being very clear what the progress is and that they 've done all that they can during the course of the year to meet the MDG's," Houghton said.

Greater transparency

Development activists also advocate greater transparency as part of the fight against corruption – which inhibits the best laid plans for improving social services and living standards.

A recent report by the UN Economic Commission for Africa notes that 3% of Africa's public resources are diverted to private hands, and that the continent loses 60% in illicit capital flows to foreign tax havens.

The highest rates of child mortality are in sub-Saharan Africa, where 1 in 7 children die before their fifth birthday (UNDP)
The highest rates of child mortality are in sub-Saharan Africa, where 1 in 7 children die before their fifth birthday (UNDP)

Irungu Houghton, Oxfam's Pan Africa advisor, based in Nairobi, Kenya, stresses the need for greater transparency in business contracts.

"We know stories of Mobutu in (mineral-rich) Zaire [now Democratic Republic of the Congo] and in (oil-rich) Equatorial Guinea where there is a corrupt relationship between members of the government and transnational corporation executives," Houghton added. "This has begun to change especially in the context that [Uganda, Ghana and other African countries are] now negotiating a whole set of arrangements with the Chinese and other [Asian] countries to explore oil and other deposits. If handled well, [it] could mean these countries moving from least developed to middle income countries.

Houghton welcomes renewed efforts by industrialized nations to encourage openness in transactions between international companies and African governments. One such effort is a recent law passed by the US Congress that requires energy companies wishing to do business in the US to reveal all payments made to government officials. Oxfam encourages the African Union and other bodies to set up and enforce similar Publish What You Pay procedures for companies doing business in their region.

Sources of revenue

Oxfam also encourages donor countries to find alternative sources of revenue for supporting the MDGs. One, supported by France and Japan, would include a tax on world financial transactions, a proposal not supported by the United States.

Current aid for basic education to the developing world ($2.7 billion) is seven times less than what the world spends on chewing gum each year (Oxfam/UNESCO)
Current aid for basic education to the developing world ($2.7 billion) is seven times less than what the world spends on chewing gum each year (Oxfam/UNESCO)

The development organization warns that the development goals could be affected by a return to indebtedness. Houghton says many developing countries borrowed money at high rates from private banks for stimulus programs to cushion themselves from the global economic downturn.

But he says that's meant $60 billion in deficits, and the threat of a return of the widespread debt of the 1980's and 1990's. Houghton proposes the creation of mechanisms, or an institution, to monitor the degree to which national governments borrow from private sources, and advise them on how to borrow prudently.

He expects these, and other ideas, to be part of the debate at G8 meetings and other forums that focus on the boosting the global economy, and living standards.

You May Like

Turbulent Transition Imperils Tunisia’s Arab Spring Gains

Critics say new anti-terrorism laws worsen Tunisia's situation while others put faith in country’s vibrant civil organizations, women’s movement More

Burundi’s Political Crisis May Become Humanitarian One

United Nations aid agencies issue warning as deadly violence sends tens of thousands fleeing More

Yemenis Adjust to Life Under Houthi Rule

Locals want warring parties to strike deal to stop bloodletting before deciding how country is governed More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threati
X
Greg Flakus
May 29, 2015 11:24 PM
Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video Texas Town Residents Told to 'Just Leave' Ahead of Flood Threat

Water from heavy rain in eastern and central Texas is now swelling rivers that flow into the Gulf of Mexico, threatening towns along their banks. VOA’s Greg Flakus visited the town of Wharton, southwest of Houston, where the Colorado River is close to cresting.
Video

Video New York's One World Trade Center Observatory Opens to Public

From New Jersey to Long Island, from Northern suburbs to the Atlantic Ocean, with all of New York City in-between.  That view became available to the public Friday as the One World Trade Center Observatory opened in New York -- atop the replacement for the buildings destroyed in the September 11, 2001, attacks.  VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports.
Video

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

With inter-Korean relations deteriorating over the North’s nuclear program, past military provocations and human rights abuses, many Koreans still hold out hope for eventual peaceful re-unification. VOA’s Brian Padden visited a “unification fair” held this week in Seoul, where border communities promoted the benefits of increased cooperation.
Video

Video Purple Door Coffeeshop: Changing Lives One Cup at a Time

For a quarter of his life, Kevin Persons lived on the street. Today, he is working behind the counter of an espresso bar, serving coffee and working to transition off the streets and into a home. Paul Vargas reports for VOA.
Video

Video Modular Robot Getting Closer to Reality

A robot being developed at Carnegie Mellon University has evolved into a multi-legged modular mechanical snake, able to move over rugged surfaces and explore the surroundings. Scientists say such machines could someday help in search and rescue operations. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Shanghai Hosts Big Consumer Electronics Show

Electronic gadgets are a huge success in China, judging by the first Asian Consumer Electronics Show, held this week in Shanghai. Over the course of two days, more than 20,000 visitors watched, tested and played with useful and some less-useful electronic devices exhibited by about 200 manufacturers. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.

VOA Blogs

World Currencies

EUR
USD
0.9115
JPY
USD
123.92
GBP
USD
0.6554
CAD
USD
1.2443
INR
USD
63.800

Rates may not be current.