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Agenda 2010: the Turning Point on Poverty

Why 2010 could be a landmark year in our fight against poverty

“The 2015 target date for the MDGs is a goalpost that cannot be moved...the clock is ticking louder every day”

Ban Ki-moon, United Nations Secretary General

15 March 2010

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At the start of the new millennium, world leaders gathered at the UN to make a promise – that we would do everything within our power to halve extreme poverty by 2015.

Agreed at the Summit were the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) – clear and measurable targets aimed at improving the lives of millions of people around the globe.

This September, ten years on, world leaders will once again come together at the UN to take stock of the progress and, we hope, agree a five year plan to achieve the Goals by 2015.

On 11 March, at the 2010 DFID Conference, the UK brought together experts from across the globe to discuss the actions needed to achieve the MDGs. The final report from that meeting will provide clear, concrete recommendations that will be sent to Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General, for consideration ahead of September’s UN MDG Summit. In addition, the UK will be pushing for action that will help deliver the MDGs at international opportunities between now and September such as the G8 and G20 summits

Great strides have been made since the MDGs were agreed in 2000. Forty million more children are in school than a decade ago. The number of people with access to treatment for AIDS has increased from just 100,000 to over four million. The proportion of the world’s population living in poverty has fallen from a third to a quarter.

However, several MDG targets are still off track and the economic downturn is jeopardising the progress we have made so far. Failing to meet them has huge implications – it would mean for example that 72 million children of primary school age around the world would not have an education and nearly 9 million children will continue to die each year before reaching the age of five.

In an interdependent world, progress towards the MDGs will only be made if we tackle the challenges of economic recovery, climate change, the empowerment of girls and women and states affected by conflict and/or fragility.

Strong national leadership is crucial to effective development. Alongside this aid will continue to play an indispensable part. But “business as usual” will not allow us to meet the MDGs.

We must work with partners, old and new, to help poor countries participate and benefit from high and sustained economic growth which creates markets, jobs and incomes.

With 900 million people still going hungry every day, the challenge cannot be underestimated. Each and every one of us has some role to play – from citizen to civil society, faith groups to foundations, from private to public sector.

So play your part and help us make 2010 a real Turning Point on Poverty.