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A unique opportunity?

Next week in New York, world leaders will meet at a UN summit to renew their commitment to meeting the Millennium Development Goals. What will be the outcome of the summit?

According to Concern Worldwide CEO Tom Arnold, some of the goals are well on target:  “In particular, it is likely that the target of reducing the prevalence of extreme poverty by half by 2015 will be met. A lot of progress has been made on other goals such as education and tackling disease.”

Slow decline

However, Tom goes on to say that many major challenges remain: 

After years of slow decline, the number of people in the world coping with hunger has risen sharply in the wake of the financial and economic crises. That number now stands at almost one billion people. Many parts of sub-Saharan Africa have made very slow progress and some have even regressed.

What Concern wants

The summit in New York is a timely opportunity to redouble our efforts. According to Tom, Concern is looking for three things from this summit:

  • A renewed commitment matched by resources
  • A serious plan to meet the goals with measurable interim targets
  • A renewed focus on hunger

Tom says: 

What we know of the likely final document is worrying on all three counts. There is much fine language – and I don’t wish to minimise that in any way – but the commitment does not seem to be matched by resources or underpinned by a serious plan. I would also like to see more focus on the problem of hunger and ways in which it can be tackled.

Credible promises?

Next week’s summit offers Ireland and the wider international community a unique opportunity to end the scourge of poverty once and for all. But the promises, which will certainly be made, will only be credible if they are matched by clear and determined action. The very poorest of our world deserve no less.