Millennium Campaign Director Speaks in Oregon about Millennium Development Goals
By Mike Hiland
Bread for the World activist in Portland
The Millennium Development Goals were agreed upon by the international community back in 2000. The goals include measurable and achievable targets on reducing global poverty, and improving access to education, water and other benchmarks. When those goals were conceived, the countries of the world envisioned achieving them by 2015.
Now that we're at the halfway point (or a little beyond), many people are wondering how far we've come toward attaining these goals. The UN Millennium Campaign has some answers in a detailed report
In the meantime, Salil Shetty, director of the Millennium Campaign, spoke to us at St. Luke Lutheran Church in Portland about the progress we are making towards these goals. (Thanks to St. Luke member Lisa Wenwick for organizing this event).
Mr. Shetty described these goals as a shared commitment between rich and poor countries. Some significant progress is being made, particularly in developing country reforms in democracy, but a lot more work still needs to be done. The developed countries are falling short of the pledges they made in aid and debt forgiveness. Another key goal is reducing developed country agricultural subsidies and opening our markets to trade (the farm bill).
The positive developments include a one-third reduction in extreme poverty since 1990, and if this trend continues we will meet the goal in poverty reduction. Even in sub-Saharan Africa the number of poor has leveled off and the poverty rate has started a small decline, but we are still not on track to meet the goal here. Progress is being made in education and child mortality. We are falling short of the goals in reducing maternal mortality, the proportion of under weight children, improving basic sanitation and in the fight against AIDS.
He mentioned that the most important thing we can be doing is to demand that our leaders keep their word and meet our commitments in aid, debt forgiveness and disease prevention. He cited the key work being done by groups like The One Campaign, Bread for the World and Jubilee. Writing letters and getting the word out so more people will write letters, this was in effect our assignment and our challenge.
Mr. Shetty quoted from Bono saying:
“God is in the slums, in the cardboard boxes where the poor play house. God is in the silence of a mother who has infected her child with a virus that will end both their lives. God is in the cries heard under the rubble of war. God is in the debris of wasted opportunity and lives, and God is with us if we are with them.”
He closed by saying that we are the first generation that can end poverty, we are running out of time and excuses. All I can add to that is- now lets get to work.
(Note: Salil Shetty is pictured above with Mike Hiland and Carol Welch)
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