Although official development assistance is at an all-time high, the world is still $20 billion short on pledges made for the year 2010, largely due to the world economic downturn. Facing a shortage of $16 billion in aid, Africa accounts for 80 per cent of the development aid gap. This was said by United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in New York on 16 September 2010.
Mr Ban was addressing a press conference where he launched the 2010 report by the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Gap Task Force. Ban set up the body – comprising more than 20 United Nations agencies, the World Bank and others – in 2007 to assess progress on Millennium Development Goal number 8: global partnership for development.
The Secretary General called on world leaders to renew their commitment to a global partnership to promote development.
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‘It is particularly distressing that the place of greatest need is also the place that accounts for the lion’s share of the shortfall,’ said Ban, referring specifically to Africa.
The new report cautions that economic recovery is ‘still very fragile and uneven,’ hampered by the continuing job crisis and mounting public debt.
The report found that the global development partnership ‘stands at a critical juncture’ since there are only five years left till the 2015 deadline for the Millennium Development Goals and that other commitments made by groups of countries – including at the so-called Doha round of negotiations on reducing international trade barriers – have little chance of being achieved by that year.
‘The global economic crisis and the looming threat of climate change have consequences that render the need for such strengthened partnership even greater,’ the publication underscored.
The Secretary General said that the report’s findings should motivate world leaders, who will gather next week at UN Headquarters in New York to measure progress made so far towards achieving the MDGs.
‘But while the gaps are serious, let us not be daunted by them,’ he said. ‘Despite setbacks, shortfalls and obstacles, we have the tools and the resources to achieve the goals by 2015.’
Investment in the Goals is an investment in global economic growth, and recovery hinges on progress made in developing countries, Mr. Ban said.
‘We must not balance our budgets on the backs of the poor,’ he stressed.
Also speaking at the press conference was Jomo Kwame Sundaram, Assistant Secretary General in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA), who voiced concern over the effect that the recent shift towards slashing government spending will have on aid commitments.
Sundaram singled out Belgium and the United Kingdom for praise for keeping up their assistance pledges, calling on other developed nations to follow their lead.