02 July 2007

World Poverty - Who Cares?

"Existing trade barriers, agricultural subsidies and restrictive rules on intellectual property rights reinforce global inequities – and they make a mockery of our tall claims to eliminate hunger and poverty from our world."

The United Nations' mid-point progress report on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), published today, notes that although extreme poverty is beginning to fall in sub-Saharan Africa and the poorest are getting a little less poor in most regions of the world, poverty reduction has been accompanied by rising inequality and half the developing world remains without basic sanitation.

The report claims that the MDGs are still attainable and affirms that "The world wants no new promises." However, if success is to be achieved in the poorest and most disadvantaged countries, "Developed countries need to deliver fully on longstanding commitments to achieve the official development assistance (ODA) target of 0.7 per cent of gross national income (GNI) by 2015." In particular, it notes, the Group of 8 industrialised nations need "to live up to their 2005 pledge to double aid to Africa by 2010 and European Union Member States to allocate 0.7 per cent of GNI to ODA by 2015."

Speaking at today's meeting of the UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) in Geneva, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon told the heads of the United Nations and the World Trade Organisation, "The world desperately needs a successful conclusion to the Doha trade negotiations." However, any realistic chances of a deal have already been dashed with the collapse of talks last month between the so-called "G4" group of the World Trade Organisation's four most powerful members—that is, the European Union, United States, Brazil, and India.Understanding of Poverty: What does it mean to be poor? [Credit: USAID]