15 JULY 2010


It may be too late. But better late than never. A summit in September -- that is less than two months -- and the Secretary General will have to present a situation report to heads of state gathering in New York. A recently released assessment report of the Millennium Development Goals (known generally as MDG) indicates that while certain advances have been made, the rate of improvement remains too slow. Countries must step up their efforts if any of the targets set for 2015 could be accomplished.

The Secretary General who presented the report said that it illustrated that world leaders must focus on several fronts: generating jobs, spurring economic growth, encouraging food security, promoting clean energy and strengthening partnerships between rich and poor countries to help the world's most vulnerable.

"Economic uncertainty cannot be an excuse to slow down our development efforts," he stressed, "it is a reason to speed them up."

Time is pressing. Action will have to be taken, initially for the September meeting, and substantially accomplish at least some of the designated targets. To speed up the process, Secretary General Ban has set up an advocacy group of eminent persons to galvanize worldwide support. It will be co-chaired by Rwandan President Paul Kagame and Spain's Prime Minister Louis Rodriguez Zapatero.

Members include two Nobel Peace Prize laureates -- the Bangladeshi pioneer of microcredit Muhammad Yunus and the Kenyan environmental activist Wangari Maathai -- and the former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet. The businessmen and philanthropists Bill Gates and Ted Turner are participating, as are Jeffrey Sachs, the Secretary-Generalís Special Adviser on the MDGs, and Ray Chambers, the Secretary-Generalís Special Envoy for Malaria. Qatarís First Lady, Sheikha Mozah Bint Nasser, and the former Mozambican First Lady GraÁa Machel have also been named as advocates, along with former General Assembly president Jan Eliasson and Philippe Douste-Blazy, the UN Special Adviser on innovative financing for development. The other members are: Stine Bosse, the chief executive of TrygVesta Group and the chairman of BÝrnefonden (the Childrenís Fund); Dho Young-Shin, the chairman of the UN World Tourism Organizationís (UNWTO) Sustainable Tourism for Eliminating Poverty Foundation; Julio Frenk, the former Mexican health minister and the Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health; Akin Adesina, the Vice-President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa; and Hiromasa Yonekura, the chairman of the Japan Business Federation. Mr. Ban said distinguished personalities from China, India and the United Kingdom will also join the group soon.