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UN Chief Urges World Leaders to Meet Millennium Goals

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivers his address at the Millennium Development Goals Summit at the United Nations in New York, 20 Sep 2010

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has called on world leaders to reaffirm their commitments to drastically reducing global poverty, hunger and disease within the next five years.

World leaders have gathered in New York for a three-day summit on ending global poverty, hunger and disease within the next five years. The secretary-general called on the international community to keep its promise to help the world's most vulnerable people.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said when leaders agreed on the eight Millennium Development Goals during a summit in 2000, it was a great breakthrough.

"Together we created a blueprint for ending extreme poverty. We defined achievable targets and timetables," he said. "We established a framework that all partners, even those with different views have been able to embrace."

This week's summit is intended to review progress, identify gaps and commit to concrete steps to reach the Millennium Development Goals on schedule. A document setting out specific actions on how to do that for each of the eight goals has already been agreed on and is expected to be adopted at the end of the summit.

The goals include eradicating extreme hunger and poverty, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality and empowering women, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

Mr. Ban outlined some of the successes during the past 10 years in implementing the goals:

"New thinking and path-breaking public-private partnerships," he said. "Dramatic increases in school enrollment. Expanded access to clean water. Better control of disease. The spread of technology - from mobile to green."

But progress has been uneven, and the summit aims to give a boost to the goals that are lagging, such as improving maternal health and reducing child mortality. On Wednesday, the Secretary-General will launch a Global Strategy for Women's and Children's Health as part of that effort.

The latest MDG progress report warns that several of the goals are likely to be missed in many countries. The challenges are greatest in the least-developed countries, land-locked developing countries and small island developing states, as well as countries either in or emerging from conflict and those most affected by climate change.

The report also found the global economic and financial crisis has impacted jobs and incomes worldwide, severely hurting the ability of the poor to feed their families. There is also concern that donor countries affected by the financial crisis are taking austerity measures that could erode their contributions to development assistance.

The secretary-general has warned that falling short of the Millennium Development Goals could lead to an increase in global dangers from political instability to disease to harming the environment.

About 140 world leaders, including President Barack Obama will address the summit before it concludes Wednesday.