Well-targeted international aid key to achieving Millennium Development Goals: UN adviser

13:41, June 25, 2010      

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Holding wealthier countries accountable for their aid promises and taking advantage of improved technologies and institutions can help solve the plights of the world's poorest people, U.S. economist and UN adviser Jeffrey Sachs said on Thursday.

Sachs, who is a professor at Columbia University and director of Columbia's Earth Institute, told a press conference about the status of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

World leaders agreed in the year 2000 to achieve the MDGs -- the universally accepted international development goals, which Sachs played a major role in crafting, by the year 2015.

Sachs explained that many of the world's wealthier countries are failing to reach pledged aid donations that are integral to helping poorer countries reach the MDGs.

"There is nothing to prevent the rich countries from following through on these commitments, they [the pledge amounts] are after all a fraction of one percent of their income," he said.

At the 2005 G8 Summit at Gleneagles, Scotland, Sachs said, the world's wealthiest nations promised to increase their international aid by 2010 with a particular focus on doubling aid to Africa.

Sachs said that these countries have failed to live up to the standards they set for international aid and failed to double the aid to Africa. He also explained that wealthy countries pledged in 1970 to keep their development aid output at .07 percent of their GNI, a promise that has been broken often.

Sachs emphasized that the recent need for fiscal austerity in wealthier nations should not cause them to shortchange their aid commitments to the poorest nations.

"Arithmetically, morally, and practically that's a terrible way to go and the UK helped show leadership this week," he said. In their emergency budget, announced on Tuesday, the United Kingdom ring-fenced their foreign development aid even as they made significant cuts in other areas.

"The shortfall of aid is especially consequential in my view given that the possibilities for effective delivery are stronger than ever because the technologies are strong and because a number of innovative institutions were created like the Global Fund to fight AIDS and malaria or like GAVI to provide immunization," Sachs said. "So when you see the shortfall in that context, at least for me it is even more painful."

At the G8 conference on Friday as well as the upcoming G20 conference, world leaders will have opportunities to evaluate the progress of international development aid and the world economy. Sachs expressed his hope that these conferences will build diplomatic momentum towards the creation of a global action plan that will allow for achievement of the MDGs by the 2015 deadline.

Source: Xinhua


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