Wealthy Nations Must Increase Aid to Developing Countries To Meet Millennium Goals, Including Reducing HIV Spread, Report Says
Wealthy nations must "fulfil[l] their pledges" to increase aid to developing countries in order to met the U.N. Millennium Development Goals -- including curbing the spread of HIV and reducing maternal and infant deaths -- within the next decade, according to a report released on Monday, the Los Angeles Times reports (Farley, Los Angeles Times, 1/18). The report, titled "Investing in Development," was commissioned by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan and based on the research of 265 scholars, scientists and poverty experts. The report will be presented to the Group of Eight industrialized nations at its meeting in July and to the U.N. General Assembly in September, when it is expected to create an agenda on global development.
The report outlines plans for achieving the Millennium goals by 2015 and provides deadlines for "specific, often simple, projects that experts say have been proven to work," according to Reuters/Yahoo! News. The Millennium goals, which were set in 2000, include halving extreme hunger and poverty for at least one billion people living on $1 per day, curbing the spread of HIV and malaria, reducing maternal and infant deaths and providing basic education (Leopold, Reuters/Yahoo! News, 1/18). The 3,000-page report recommends "practical measures," such as providing mosquito nets and building roads and ports to "help lift people out of abject poverty," the Washington Post reports. It also details 18 "quick fix" initiatives that could "save millions of lives," including eliminating school fees and providing health clinics and antiretroviral drugs for people living with HIV/AIDS, according to the Post (Lynch, Washington Post, 1/18). "What we're proposing is a strategy of investment to help empower the lives of very poor people that lack the tools and sometimes even the basic means to stay alive, much less be productive members of a fast-paced world economy,' Professor Jeffrey Sachs, lead author of the report and director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, said (Lederer, AP/Chicago Sun-Times, 1/18). The report also calls on wealthy nations to remove trade barriers, extend debt relief and increase aid to impoverished countries that have demonstrated a commitment to good governance. Developing nations also should "dramatically increase" their spending on initiatives addressing poverty, including health care research and agricultural and environmental programs (Washington Post, 1/18).
However, the "world [will] have to do much more" in terms of development aid to end hunger and poverty by 2015, according to the Times (Los Angeles Times, 1/18). According to Sachs, most wealthy nations have "fallen far short" of their commitment to devote 0.7% of their gross national product to curb global poverty, the Post reports. Development aid from the world's 22 wealthiest countries currently averages approximately 0.25% of their GNPs, or $69 billion. The report calls on governments to increase spending to 0.44%, or $135 billion, by 2006, and 0.54%, or $195 billion, by 2015. Only five countries -- Sweden, Denmark, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Norway -- have met the 0.7% goal, while six others -- the United Kingdom, France, Ireland, Spain, Finland and Belgium -- have pledged to do so by 2015. As the world's richest country with an $11 trillion economy, the United States spends 0.15% of its GNP, or $16.3 billion, for international development aid. It would need to provide $30 billion more annually to reach the 0.7% goal, according to the Post (Washington Post, 1/18). "We are not asking for one new promise. Only the follow through on what has already been committed," Sachs said, adding that meeting the aid target should be a "requirement" for all permanent U.N. Security Council Members. "We're talking about rich countries committing 50 cents out of every $100 of income to help the poorest people in the world get a foothold on the ladder of development. It's utterly affordable," Sachs said.
Although current U.N. assessments indicate that at the current pace sub-Saharan Africa will not meet any of the Millennium goals by 2015, the world "enter[s] 2005 ... with some reasons for optimism both about the human spirit and the readiness of some governments to lead on some of these goals" (Los Angeles Times, 1/18). Thoraya Ahmed Obaid, executive director of the United Nations Population Fund, called the report an "authoritative and practical road map to poverty reduction and development," according to a UNFPA release. "The twentieth century was known for ending political apartheid," Obaid said, adding, "Since this report says our generation has a chance to halve extreme poverty, let us all -- developing and developed nations -- seize this one moment in time to do so by also freeing women from all forms of discrimination, bias and violence. In doing so, we will make our generation and the 21st century remembered in history for ending gender apartheid. I pledge UNFPA's commitment to this cause" (UNFPA release, 1/17). However, critics of the report have said that some recommendations -- including increasing trade and private investment -- require "massive restructuring of governments and transformations of culture" that must be "developed over time," according to the Times (Los Angeles Times, 1/18).
Bush, Congress Must Combat 'Silent Tsunamis,' Sachs Says
President Bush, along with Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress, must call upon the United States to "combat the silent tsunamis -- such as malaria, hunger, maternal mortality and extreme poverty -- that grip Africa and other impoverished regions," Sachs writes in a Washington Post opinion piece. Bush "should lead our great nation to use our wealth and technology to help conquer the scourges of malaria and hunger that grip hundreds of millions of our impoverished brethren around the world," according to Sachs, who concludes, "We all know that unaddressed suffering adds greatly to instability and insecurity throughout the world (Sachs, Washington Post, 1/17).