Round up from the MDG Summit in New York

On Monday, 20 September, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the Summit’s first session with an appeal to Member States to provide the necessary investment, aid and political will to meet the goals. He called the gathering “the most significant global development conference” since the UN Millennium Summit laid out the MDGs 10 years ago.

The Summit, held in New York was attended by some 140 heads of State and government who pledged in a final outcome document, “We are convinced that the Millennium Development Goals can be achieved, including in the poorest countries, with renewed commitment, effective implementation and intensified collective action by all Member States and other relevant stakeholders”. The 31-page document document touched on virtually every aspect of global issues beyond the headings of each of the eight MDGs, from human rights to corruption to climate change, focused particularly on actions, policies and strategies to support those developing countries that are lagging most behind and those goals that are most off track, thus improving the lives of the poorest people.In his speech Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg confirmed that UK aid will save the lives of at least 50,000 women in pregnancy and childbirth, save 250,000 newborn babies and enable 10 million couples to access modern methods of family planning. He also announced that the UK will help halve the number of deaths caused by malaria in at least ten African countries by 2015. The new UK commitment will be backed by an increase in funding to as much as £500 million per year by 2014 from current spending of about £150 million.

Nick Clegg added, “the UK makes these commitments at a time of significant difficulty in our domestic economy. Some critics have questioned that decision, asking why, at a time when people at home are making sacrifices in their pay and their pensions, are we increasing aid for people in other countries? But we make this choice because we understand that, while we are experiencing hardship on our own shores, it does not compare to the abject pain and destitution of others. And because we know that doing so is in our own, enlightened self-interest. So we do not see the Millennium Development Goals just as optimistic targets for far away lands; they are not simply charity, nor are they pure altruism. They are also the key to lasting safety and future prosperity for the people of the United Kingdom, and of course, for people right across the globe”.

During the summit, a groundbreaking international partnership to cut mother and child deaths in the developing world was announced by Andrew Mitchell, Secretary of State for International Development. The UK will be joined by the US and Australian governments and the Gates Foundation in an alliance which will focus on the most off track Millennium Development Goals (4 and 5) – which cover maternal health and child health – with a preliminary focus on family planning. The Alliance will seek to support a number of countries in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia to achieve their ambitions.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and Heads of State and Government, along with the private sector, foundations, international organizations, civil society and research organisations, kicked off a concerted $40bn world-wide effort to save the lives of more than 16 million women and children. Speaking at the close of the Summit, ministers made clear that UK leadership had put saving women’s and children’s lives firmly on the agenda and that the UK’s contribution had helped secure wider international action. Download the strategy here and see all of the commitments made by countries and agencies here.

You can see the final day of speeches from Heads of State, including President Obama here.

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