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Millennium Development Goals

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Many aspects of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are currently off target; the UK government must increase its efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

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The UK government must take the lead in ensuring that the MDGs are reached and encourage other governments to prioritise such international development issues.

Poverty and Water

We urge the UK government to live up to its commitments to international development and to take the lead in ensuring that the Millennium Development Goals are reached. There is a real danger that many of the targets will not be met, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. The MDGs should be viewed as the minimum levels towards which we should be working; if the targets are not met we will be failing in our moral obligations to the poorest people of the world.  

Delegates at our Britain in the World event were concerned with a number of issues that fall under the umbrella of the Millennium Development Goals, namely: access to clean water, gender equality and education and HIV/AIDS.  

Delegates made the point that spending on access to clean, safe water is minimal compared to military spending. While it was recognised that water usually falls under the jurisdiction of regional authorities which makes it difficult to implement more effective policies, delegates supported the idea of the formation of a single UN authority to plan water investment. 

As current progress suggests that the MDG target on water will not be achieved in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia (by one billion people) we welcome the UK government’s commitment to spend half of its direct aid budget on basic services, including water and sanitation. We also welcome the commitment to double assistance to water and sanitation in Africa (to £95 million per annum by 2007/8 and £200 million by 2010/11). We urge the UK government to maintain and monitor the implementation of these commitments. 

We also ask that the UK government focus upon the recommendations of the Millennium Project regarding access to clean water, in particular: commit to moving the sanitation crisis to the top of their agenda, empower local authorities and communities with the authority, resources and professional capacity required to manage water supply and sanitation service delivery, and to encourage innovations to speed progress toward reaching several development goals simultaneously. 

 

Aids, Education and gender equality

With the number of deaths from AIDS continuing to rise in sub-Saharan Africa and 4.3 million people becoming newly infected (across developing countries) in 2006, the MDG to combat HIV/AIDS will not be met. Delegates believed that the UK government should continue to push for increased international finance for HIV/AIDS
(finance to contribute to prevention programmes, antiretroviral drugs, medical care and care of orphans). We welcome the government’s current commitment to spend£1.5 billion on HIV/AIDS between 2005-2008 and hope that this pledge is fulfilled. 

Delegates were also concerned that antiretroviral drugs remained unaffordable to many poor people in developing countries; only 28% of those living with HIV in poor countries were receiving antiretroviral therapy in 2006. We ask that the UK government build on its success at the 2005 Gleneagles Summit, by ensuring that procedures are put in place to achieve the targets set at Gleneagles (e.g. universal access to treatment for all those who need it by 2010), and continuing to ensure that HIV/AIDS remains a priority for the G8. 

 

Education of girls and women benefits society as a whole, socially and economically; educated women usually have fewer and healthier children than uneducated women and they tend to have children who also attend school, these factors combined are more likely to break the cycle of poverty. The target of gender empowerment is central to achieving all of the other MDGs as gender equality is an essential requirement in tackling poverty, disease and hunger; this goal entails creating equality at all levels and areas of life including education, employment and public and political life. 

Delegates believed that the UK government has to act as a champion for women’s representation at all levels of decision-making within developing countries. Gender inequality should be targeted as a matter of course in all aspects of the implementation of the MDGs; interventions and development packages should include the protection of sexual and reproductive health and rights, equal access to economic assets such as land and housing, increased access to education (primary, secondary and further education), equal opportunities in the labour market, freedom from violence and increased representation at all levels of governance. 

However, the target to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education by 2005 was not achieved in many regions (particularly the Arab States, South and West Asia and sub-Saharan Africa), and the subsequent 2015 target (for all levels of education) is currently unlikely to be achieved. We welcome the UK government’s commitment to gender equality in its development initiatives; however more needs to be done to meet the MDG on gender, particularly as achieving this goal is central to meeting all of the other goals.

 

Updated 23 September 2007   

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