ACT Alliance ― a global, faith-based relief and development agency that includes as partners the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) ― has called for a drastic change in international policy to ensure no country is left behind in the development stakes, as the United Nations General Assembly held its Special Event on achieving the Millennium Development Goals.
U.N. member heads of state convened in New York to assess progress on the Millennium Development Goals, the set of eight global goals aimed at reducing poverty and improving key social issues such as health, education and hunger by 2015. The talks looked into new targets to follow the MDGs, a process known as the post-2015 development agenda.
While the world has met or is on track to meet some of the MDGs, progress is uneven. Critics say flaws setting up and implementing hampered the progress of the goals, a challenge ACT Alliance hopes will not be repeated in the post-2015 development agenda.
ACT Alliance calls for development decision-makers to speed up efforts to implement the MDGs but says poverty will only come to an end when environmental, political and social development happens in tandem.
Greater political will needed
ACT Alliance general secretary John Nduna said at an evening hosted by ACT Alliance in New York that the economic growth model had neither human rights nor human dignity at its core and was subsequently failing the billions of people most in need. Governments needed a decisive shift toward low-carbon development and environmental sustainability.
“We need to address growing inequality between wealthy and poor nations, promote good governance and ensure security for all people,” he said. “We call for a huge shift towards development that benefits everyone.”
Nduna also appealed for greater political will to radically cut carbon dioxide emissions that were killing people in the global south. “The post-2015 development agenda needs to support communities whose lives and livelihoods are at risk from the changing climate. The post-2015 agenda must help communities build resilience.”
ACT: Integrate environmental sustainability with national development
Climate change was contributing to the deaths of nearly 400,000 people a year, mostly in developing countries, according to Climate Vulnerability Monitor, published late 2012 by DARA group and the Climate Vulnerability Forum.
Nduna said that over the next two years, every U.N. member state had the chance to better integrate environmental sustainability with national development.
“It is essential that local communities really take part in national debates on the shape of the world after 2015. Civil society organizations, including faith leaders and faith groups, can contribute ideas and innovation to ensure a robust path to resilience,” Nduna said.
In his opening remarks to the assembly, U.N. secretary general Ban Ki-moon said that while great progress had been made in implementing the MDGs, especially in health and education, development in Africa was uneven and more efforts were required to reach the goals. He called on delegates to the meeting to set a strong post-2015 development agenda that would eradicate poverty and provide sustainable development for all people while protecting the environment.
World Bank president Jim Yong Kim said that although good progress has been made in implementing the MGDs, good governance, inequality, and effective partnership were needed. The World Bank would contribute $700 million to further improve health of children and women before the end of the MDGs in 2015.