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Despite Global Economic Setbacks, Partnerships Further Millennium Development Goals

(PresseBox) (Davos-Klosters Switzerland, ) .
- Now nearly twothirds of the way towards the 2015 deadline for the UN Millennium Development Goals, the global recession has prompted cuts in governmental aid budgets and furthered the need for solutions based on "creative capitalism"
- While great progress has been made towards achieving some goals, notably Goal 6 (combat HIV/AIDS, Malaria and TB) and Goal 4 (reduce childhood mortality), others such as Goal 5 (improve maternal health) have been underfunded and thus stymied
- The knowledge and resources are available to achieve the goals; but political will is lacking
- For all information about the Annual Meeting, visit www.weforum.org/annualmeeting

Now just five years shy of the 2015 deadline for the achievement of the UN Millennium Development Goals, a panel of its advocates called for increased private sector support to compensate for falling government aid budgets in the wake of the global recession. The global economic downturn cannot be an excuse for not meeting the goals. "Lack of financing has nothing to do with this recession; it has to do with neglect," said Jeffrey D. Sachs, Director, The Earth Institute, Columbia University, and Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the Millennium Development Goals, USA, who explained that what is lacking is just a fraction of a percent of most countries' GDP. "This is not heavy lifting for the world."

The world has moved forward, but progress has been uneven across sectors and between countries. For example, the goal of reducing morbidity as a result of HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis (Goal 6) has advanced and progress towards reducing childhood deaths has been "phenomenal", said William H. Gates III, Co-Chair, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, USA. Yet, maternal mortality (Goal 5) has no funding stream and has thus stagnated. And certain countries, thanks to corruption and lack of absorption capacity, have fallen far behind. "Zimbabwe is a test case of what not to do," lamented Morgan Tsvangirai, the country's prime minister. "The challenge is a leadership challenge," said Tsvangirai.

"Straightforward applications of existing knowledge" is essential to getting whole regions out of poverty and on their way to prosperity, said Sachs. "If you go to any very poor area, the practical things that can be immediately done are very profound. Technology is our friend, right now. Systems are our friend." Creative market solutions can help further the applications of such systems. Vikram K. Akula, Founder and Chairperson, SKS Microfinance, India, and Young Global Leader, explained how his programme, which is purely commercially driven, has stimulated growth in areas where the government has not met its obligations to the poor. "We've framed this as something that's good for the private sector to do. I want to reframe it as something that is essential for the private sector to do."

Even when supported by the private sector, however, rich governments have to meet their obligations. "I'm aware that the recession has been very painful in developed countries," said Helen E. Clark, Administrator, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), New York. But in developing countries, it may mean "a child never goes back to school again."