"Achieving the Millennium Development Goals: Empowering the poorest of the poor"

17 Oct 2005

Message by Kemal Derviş on the occasion of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

In the Millennium Declaration adopted five years ago, world leaders agreed to "spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty." As set out in the internationally agreed Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), there is now a global commitment to address the everyday concerns of the world's poor, goals which include, ensuring that every boy and girl gets a primary education, reducing child and maternal mortality, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, as well as the central objective of halving the number of people living in extreme poverty and hunger, all by 2015.

While real progress is being made in achieving the goals in relative and absolute terms - extreme poverty has fallen from 28% in 1990 to 21% today, a reduction in absolute terms of 130 million people - these achievements have been uneven across regions, as well as between and within countries. Increasing inequalities within many countries, as well as between the poorest and richest countries, continues to undermine greater equity and inclusiveness. As the theme of this year's International Day for the Eradication of Poverty highlights - "Achieving the Millennium Development Goals: Empowering the poorest of the poor" - ensuring that development reaches the poorest sections of society is vital if we are to translate the promise of the MDGs into tangible improvements in the lives of men, women and children worldwide. If we are to end the cycle of extreme poverty, we need to ensure that the poor, especially women who make up the majority of the poorest of the poor, are empowered to take charge of their development as both participants in the development process that shapes their destinies, and as beneficiaries of development outcomes.

Momentum on the urgent task of fighting extreme poverty is building. At the 2005 World Summit in September, world leaders reaffirmed their commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by the 2015 deadline. All developing countries have now agreed to adopt, by 2006, and implement comprehensive national development strategies to achieve the MDGs, and developed countries have resolved to support developing country efforts through increased development assistance, wider and deeper debt relief and promoting development-orientated trade as an engine for development.

UNDP has an important role to play in supporting this global partnership for development. We are currently scaling up our support to countries in a big way. Our Integrated Package of Services for achieving the MDGs will be our corporate response to ensuring that developing countries have the capacity to turn poverty reduction strategies and other national development strategies into MDG-based strategies that can be operationalized and monitored in the short and medium term, and delivered and resourced on a continuous basis over the next decade.

On this International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, let us resolve to seize the opportunities that exist today to tackle extreme poverty, and empower people, men and women everywhere, in meeting our common objective of achieving sustainable human development for all.