The Methodist Relief and Development Fund (MRDF) is urging leaders of rich countries to follow through on the pledges made at the recent Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York.
The summit reviewed progress made so far towards the goals. While some are on track to be met, such as the goals to halve world poverty by 2015, increase school enrolment and improve health, there is still a huge amount of work to be done on others.
For example, MRDF points out, hundreds of thousands of women are still dying in childbirth every year – the UN goal is to cut maternal deaths by three quarters by 2015.
Also, while levels of poverty have fallen globally, this is mainly due to economic growth in India and China; the number of people going hungry has actually risen from 842 million to 1.02 billion over the last ten years.
The summit closed with world leaders re-committing to reach the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and announcing new initiatives to tackle issues around women’s and children’s health.
Simeon Mitchell, MRDF campaigns director, commented: "We welcome the pledges that have been made to accelerate progress towards the Millennium Development Goals, particularly the $40 billion that has been set aside for women’s and children’s health, which is one of MRDF’s priorities."
He continued: "This is not the first time that world leaders have made promises to the millions of people living in poverty, and they don’t have a good track record of delivering on them. We only need to look back to the commitment made at the Gleneagles G8 summit in 2005 to double aid to Africa by 2010, which was quietly dropped when economic conditions got tough.
"Citizens of poorer countries deserve better. Rich nations must back up their words with action. They could start by each meeting the long-standing commitment to devote at least 0.7 per cent of gross national income to international aid.
"With one in seven people globally living in poverty, we cannot afford for our leaders to only get passionate about these issues when they are under the media gaze in the UN building. As MRDF’s partners demonstrate, what is needed to really make a difference on the ground is a sustained, long-term commitment to improving poor communities.
"We all have a part to play in this, but we hope that this summit has galvanised those in powerful positions, in particular, to do everything they can to help these goals to be achieved by 2015," said Mitchell.