Azara Blog: Millennium Development Goals

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Date published: 2005/01/17

The BBC says:

A major UN report on world poverty has urged a vast increase in development aid to the world's poorest countries.

The Millennium Development Goals report says developed nations could do much more to prevent poverty, hunger and disease around the world.

Correspondents say targets to halve poverty by 2015 are way off track.

Disease, war and incompetence combined with a lack of will in the developed world have already made them virtually meaningless, they say.

Trade rules need to be changed and infrastructure developed in poorer countries to allow them to compete, the report adds.

It also calls for financing of workable poverty-reduction schemes put forward by the poorest nations themselves.

Written by former Harvard economist Dr Jeffrey Sachs, the report calls for much higher spending on development.

UN Secretary General Kofi Annan, who received the report from Dr Sachs, said the goals of the project were not utopian but "eminently achievable".
Dr Sachs singled out malaria, which kills as many people as in the whole Indian Ocean wave disaster every month and could be easily remedied by such measures as the provision of mosquito nets.

Dr Sachs added that the resources needed were well within the means of the world's richest nations.
The report will recommend that some well-governed poor countries should be fast-tracked for aid, whereas others with poor human rights records should get no large-scale aid.

However, the tying of aid to a list of demands over how well countries are run has been highly controversial.

The United Nations says:

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today launched a 3,000-page document which research team leader, Special Adviser Jeffrey Sachs, called "a unique report" recommending that rich countries double their investments in poor countries to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) of halving extreme poverty by 2015 and going beyond to eliminate it by 2025.

The report comes at a time when more than one billion of the world's six billion people live on less that $1 day, and 2.7 billion live on less than $2 a day.
The report contains feasibility studies for improving the economies of many developing and transitional countries and calls for specific investments across a wide spectrum of problems, not for handouts or charity.

Low-income countries need investments of $70 to $80 per head per year from 2006, rising to $120 to $160 per year in 2015, it says, adding that many middle-income countries could fund those investments themselves, given adequate debt relief and appropriate, specialized technical assistance.

Starting from ideas put forward by Mr. Annan, Mr. Sachs said, the team of 265 experts and graduate students took three years to collect and analyze the data.

Obviously a lot of effort has gone into the preparation of this report, but needless to say there have been countless similar reports in the past. The report makes no real mention of the number one problem in the world, namely over-population. The goal should be to get the poor people of the world up to the standard of living of the middle people of the rich world, and it's hard to see that being feasible without a drastic reduction in population. And for any of this to happen the governments of the rich world need to be well-intended in many areas (e.g. trade) where they have shown little inclination to good behaviour in the past. And unfortunately the most important rich country, the US, is now a rogue state, with the Bush administration more intent on being macho and killing people than on doing anything constructive for the world.

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