Government challenged on debt and the Millennium Development Goals

By agency reporter
February 18, 2011

In September 2010, world leaders met in New York to discuss the limited progress which had been made towards realising the Millennium Development Goals. The summit was supposed to lead to political action to get back on track to meeting the goals. Jubilee Debt Campaign has joined with 27 other British organisations to analyse the outcomes of this summit in a new report.

Progress towards the goals to reduce poverty, set at the millennium, has been slow. For example, the goal to halve the proportion of people who suffer from hunger between 1990 and 2015 is unlikely to be met. If progress over the past 20 years continues to be replicated, it will take until 2042 for this goal to be met in Africa, whilst progress has completely stalled in South Asia. This does not even take into account current increases in food prices.

Similarly, the goal to halve the proportion of people living in extreme poverty between 1990 and 2015 will only be met due to large falls in poverty in East Asia. In Africa it will take until 2065 for the goal to be met at the current rate of progress.

The key commitments of rich countries as part of the Millennium Development Goals are to deal “comprehensively” with the problem of developing country debt, and to reform the global financial system.

In September, world leaders agreed to consider an “enhanced” approach to creating permanent ways of deal[ing] with debt crises, but did not say how this would be taken forward. Furthermore, they completely ignored the goal to create an “open, rule-based, predictable, non-discriminatory ... financial system”. This is extraordinary given the financial crisis over recent years.

Recommendations of the report to the UK government include:

· Publicly support the need for an international mechanism to resolve sovereign debt problems which is a) independent of debtors and creditors, b) treats all foreign creditors on an equal basis and c) cancels unjust debts based on corrupt, irresponsible or undemocratically contracted loans which did not benefit the people of the borrowing country.

· Give significant finance to the UN Adaptation Fund, support the creation of a UN Mitigation Fund in UNFCCC negotiations, and stop giving finance for adaptation as loans through the World Bank.

· Take the global lead in pushing for international financial transparency in order to curtail illicit financial flows that would otherwise be a valuable source of revenue for developing countries.

The analysis of the Millennium Goals review summit can be read here


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