UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon has appealed to rich countries to remember the pledges they made under the Millennium Development Goals to cut poverty in half by the year 2015. In this time of financial crisis, he said it is more important than ever for the developed economies to support the poor who are hardest hit by the economic meltdown. The Secretary-General gave a joint news conference with British Prime Minister, Gordon Brown within the context of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
Last year, participants at the World Economic Forum designated 2008 as the year of the so-called bottom billion. This is a reference to the poorest of the poor who live on less than one dollar a day and are vulnerable to every shock that comes.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon noted 2009 is a year of multiple shocks, a year faced with a food crisis, a fuel crisis and an economic crisis. On top of this, he said climate change is accelerating, water scarcity is growing and other critical resources are diminishing.
As poor people struggle to cope with these threats, he said it is doubly important that the rich world does not waver in its commitment to help the poor.
"Now more than ever, the world's poor need your help. As Secretary-General of the United Nations, I say put something aside for your less fortunate neighbors. Do not overlook them. Let us make the Millennium Development Goals a part of those investment and spending plans. We are close to eliminating diseases such as polio and containing malaria. We have made tremendous strides in fighting HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis and securing the future of children in the poorest countries," he said.
Mr. Ban called climate change one of the biggest threats facing the earth. He said the problems and solutions to climate change are interlinked with the problems and efforts to eradicate poverty. He said scaling up a green, low-carbon economy is a good investment that can help solve the economic crisis.
British Prime Minister Gordon Brown agreed with the UN Secretary General that tackling climate change must continue despite the global economic downturn.
"The world cannot fully recover unless we have a picture of a greener future and also a future where people can look for prosperity instead of poverty. And, when some people say, for example that you have got to cut development aid at this time because you cannot afford to do this and say that we have got to abandon our climate change plans because of the economic downturn, I just say you will not solve the problem of climate change without the development of Africa," he said.
Brown said it is absolutely central to the recovery of the world economy that advances are made in new environmental technologies and jobs. He said it is absolutely crucial to the future of the world that nations act on climate change and act on poverty at the same time.