Australia urged to take more action on global poverty and environment

By staff writers
September 16, 2009

Australia is being challenged by church and development campaigners to give more focus to environmental sustainability issues as part of the commitment to the Millennium Development Goals.

The 2015 date set for significant progress on eight development goals is fast approaching and while significant inroads have been made in some of these goals, campaigners say there is much more to do.

A review commissioned by Make Poverty History and Micah Challenge, specifically to examine Australia’s progress on Goal 8, Develop a Global Partnership for Development, has given the Rudd Government some ticks, but also has revealed some serious failings.

The review has two major conclusions: First, that Australia’s contribution to the MDGs has improved greatly since MPH/Micah Challenge’s last assessment in 2007. Second, that there are many additional things that Australia can and should do to help developing countries reach the MDG targets.

The review declares: “As the deadline to achieve the MDGs by 2015 looms closer, Australia must go beyond aspirations and set concrete steps in place to give more and better aid, ensure trade justice, cancel poor country debt, support good governance and tackle climate change – to do our fair share to halve global poverty.”

While Australia’s Goal 8 performance overall has been positive, the review suggests there are some areas where we have been treading water and others where we have been going backwards.

For example, on the issue of assisting developing nations to access modern technology, Australia’s efforts remain at the same low ebb as in 2005. Worse still, on the question of environmental sustainability, greenhouse emissions remain unchecked and the Government appears reluctant to take a leadership role in the Copenhagen deliberations.

The report says that increased aid is required to finance the new environment strategy. Effective action needs to be taken to reduce Australia’s greenhouse footprint and to assist other countries to reduce theirs. Greater support is urgently required to assist developing countries affected by climate change.

Co-chair of Make Poverty History, Tim Costello, in launching the Goal 8 Review, called on the Australian Government to accelerate its support of the MDGs. “It is deeply distressing to see so little progress on the critical issue of maternal health, which apart from being a human rights issue, has ripple effects on community development.”

Mr Costello added: “Australia is taking a more active role in addressing this goal but must do more and ramp up its efforts to combat climate change, the impacts of which are being felt more quickly than the initial predictions. If we continue to sit on the fence on environmental sustainability, the MDGs will become an increasing impossibility as the wider implications of environmental degradation take hold.”

With thanks to Doug Hynd

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