House of Lords, International Development, Speeches

Millennium Development Goals

Posted by LordSheikh

My Lords, the successor framework is vital to ensuring that we maintain and build upon the aims of the millennium development goals. The international community has made great efforts to fulfil the goals, with excellent progress in areas such as increasing access to primary school education and improving sources of clean water. Research by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund reveals that higher food prices increased the number of people living in poverty in the developing world. However, preliminary estimates suggest that the poverty reduction target is likely to be achieved ahead of 2015.

Millennium development goal 5, on improving maternal health, stands alone as the goal that has recorded the least amount of progress to date and it is far from reaching the 2015 target. Improving maternal health is not only a moral obligation, but is financially prudent. The United Nations Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health suggests that maternal health problems result in losses to productivity of up to $15 billion dollars per annum. I would be grateful if the Minister would inform your Lordships’ House about the steps Her Majesty’s Government are taking, along with our international partners, to address the lack of progress in this vital area.

I support the view of the United Nations System Task Team that the successor framework should focus on four key areas: namely, social development, inclusive economic development, environmental sustainability and peace and security.

I have been to Bangladesh. It deserves praise for being on track to achieve millennium development goals 1, 2, 3 and 4, which relate to poverty, primary education, gender equality and child mortality.

The overall number of people living in extreme poverty in sub-Saharan Africa has fallen. Research by the United Nations Development Programme, the Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union and the African Development Bank suggests that. The region is off target in meeting millennium development goal 1 on eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, goal 4 on reducing child mortality, goal 5 on improving maternal mortality and goal 6 on combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases.

I have spoken in your Lordships’ House and elsewhere about the importance of business and trade in the United Kingdom and in overseas countries. More business and trade uplifts people’s standards of life. I have travelled abroad to promote trade.

The change in Africa’s economic fortunes has been remarkable. The continent has even been referred to as “the next Asia” owing to its rapid growth. Forecasts by the International Monetary Fund suggest that seven of the world’s fastest-growing economies over the next five years will be in Africa: namely, those of Ethiopia, Mozambique, Tanzania, Congo, Ghana, Zambia and Nigeria.

However, many stumbling blocks remain for Africans. Average life expectancy is still only 56 years, child mortality remains high and overall literacy rates are only 67%. Africa’s economic growth is often described as “jobless” because of its failure to create jobs, in particular for the 60% of Africans aged between 15 and 24 who are unemployed.

In order to break the cycle of poverty, individuals need sources of wealth creation such as employment opportunities, access to trade and greater interaction with the private sector. In addition, measures must be taken to combat corruption. The UN System Task Team on the successor framework post-2015 development agenda published a report in June that noted the progress made in areas such as poverty reduction, but highlighted the deficiencies in areas including governance and accountability. It is a credit to Britain that the Prime Minister has been appointed as a co-chair of the high-level panel of eminent persons to advise on the post-2015 development agenda. This will ensure that Britain continues to take the lead on this vital issue.

The progress made through the millennium development goals has transformed the lives of the world’s least fortunate people. We have a moral duty towards these individuals to ensure that a successor framework is created that builds on the existing achievements.

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