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UN: ‘Gaps in commitments by developed countries hamper progress on MDGs’

Persistent gaps between promises made and those delivered by developed countries are holding back greater progress on reaching the eight anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) by the end of 2015, the UN reported Thursday.

Launching a new MDGs report, ‘The State of the Global Partnership for Development’ at the UN headquarters, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on all governments and international institutions to continue strengthening the global partnership for development, in order to usher in a more sustainable future.

Ban urged leaders and citizens to “boldly step forward” to eradicate poverty, raise living
standards and sustain the environment.

He noted that recent statistics showed that many targets were already met, such as reducing
poverty, increasing access to improved drinking water sources, improving the lives of slum
dwellers and achieving gender parity in primary school.

“With only one year ahead, we definitely need a strong sense of urgency and action,” he added.

According to the report, progress on other MDGs, however, has slowed.

The report, produced by the MDG Gap Force Task Force which is co-chaired by the UN
Department of Economic and Social Affairs and the UN Development Programme (UNDP),
tracks delivery on commitments listed under MDG 8.

MDG 8 target focuses on the global partnership for development, including aid, trade, debt
relief, access to essential medicines and access to technologies.

Despite a rebound in official development assistance (ODA), the report said the gap between
the Goal 8 targets and policy delivery remains wide, stating that the commitment of 0.7
percent of donor country gross national income (GNI) is estimated at US$315 billion, but
in 2013 an estimated $135 billion was delivered leaving a $180 billion gap.

In market access, the authors of the reported noted that the Group of 20 (G20) major
economies reaffirmed to refrain from protectionist measures, but created new trade
restrictions in 2013 which “could undermine confidence” in their commitment to an open
and liberal trading system.

The report Task Force, in a statement circulated at the launch, said: “As the 2015 deadline
for achieving the MDGs approaches, we call for a final push towards improving market
access for developing countries and continuing efforts to eliminate all agricultural export
subsidies, trade-distorting domestic support and protectionist policies.”

Among other points, the authors noted that technological access for developing countries is growing at a fast pace.

They mentioned in particular, mobile phone usage, whose subscribers in the developing world
will reach 78 percent by the end of the year.

Yet, while Internet use is spreading at a faster rate in developing countries than developed
nations, more than four billion people are still unable to go online, while mobile-broadband
penetration in 2014 is expected to reach 84 percent in developed countries, it barely
exceeds 21 percent in the developing world.

The report also highlighted prices of essential medicines, which are three times more
expensive in the public sector than international reference prices and five times higher in
developing countries’ private sector.

It added that these are some of the discussion points as the international community
prepares the post-2015 sustainable development agenda.

According to Magdy Martínez-Solimán, UNDP Deputy Assistant Administrator, these are
among the “so-called unfinished business” that has to be and which will be the core of
the next agenda.

“This is the legacy where efforts have been made, successes have been earned but there
is still a journey ahead,” he told reporters at the launch of the report.


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