British Prime Minister Gordon Brown on Tuesday called for global efforts to fight illiteracy, disease, poverty, environmental degradation and under- development.
In a speech delivered at the United Nations, Brown said the world faces a "development emergency" that needs to be tackled by emergency action.
Noting the lack of progress in fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set in 2000, Brown called for a " coalition of conscience" that incorporates efforts of governments, the business community and other sectors of the society and of individuals to improve global education, trade and economic development, health and to control climate change.
"So my call today is not just to the public purpose of this generation but to the idealism of this and the next generation -- that great causes can inspire new energy and transformative change, " Brown said.
He said 12 world leaders and 20 businessmen and women have signed up to a new commitment to action to meet the "development emergency."
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised Brown's speech and called for specific steps to ensure the success of the British prime minister's proposal for a summit next year to review progress in meeting the MDGs.
"The 2015 target for the MDGs is a goalpost that cannot be moved," Ban said. "To reach the Goals on time, we have to take concerted action now."
"Let us keep the promise. Let us infuse our mission with the urgency it requires," Ban said.
Earlier July, the UN issued Millennium Development Goals Report 2007, halfway to the 2015 deadline for the MDGs, saying there has been significant progress toward the target of halving extreme poverty, with the proportion of people worldwide living on the equivalent of a dollar a day dropping from 32 percent to 19 percent.
However, the report pointed out that the poverty rate in Western Asia actually doubled from 1990 to 2004, although impressive reductions in extreme poverty have been achieved in Southern, Southeastern and Eastern Asia. And despite the gains in sub-Saharan Africa, the region's poverty gap remains the highest in the world.