- Development & Aid
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Thursday, November 30, 2023
Wu Hongbo is the under-secretary-general for the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA)
UNITED NATIONS, Sep 25 2014 (IPS) - Persistent gaps between the promises made, and actually delivered, by developed countries to developing countries, hold back efforts to improve people’s lives and end poverty.
The poorest countries need more access to aid, trade, debt relief, medicines and technologies, if we are going to make greater progress on reaching the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
In 2000, the world’s developed countries committed to help developing countries meet the MDGS by 2015 through what became known as the Global Partnership for Development. The targets for the partnership were combined into the eighth Goal (MDG 8).
The promises under goal 8 included providing developing countries with greater access to aid, trade, debt relief, medicines and technologies. This was meant to help the world’s poorest countries make progress on the first seven MDGs.
The idea was that if the targets of Goal 8 were achieved, then developing countries would have strengthened their earnings from trade and eased their sovereign debt difficulties so that—coupled with enhanced aid and appropriate access to essential medicines and new technologies—countries would be in a better position to improve the lives of their citizens.
Over 30 U.N. organisations co-led by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) have been tracking the fulfillment of these promises in the annual MDG Gap Task Force Report.
Today, the global partnership for development is strong and last year recorded the largest level of official development assistance. But much unfinished business remains as we approach the deadline for the MDGs.
Assistance to the poorest countries remains far below what is needed and what was promised
After two consecutive years of falling volumes, official development assistance (ODA) hit a record high of 135 billion dollars in 2013. Seventeen of 28 donor countries increased their development assistance, and five have met the target of disbursing 0.7 percent of their national income to developing countries. Despite this progress, we are still far behind our target.
A 180-billion-dollar gap remains between the aid delivered and the amounts promised by developed countries. In addition, aid continues to be heavily concentrated with the top 20 recipients receiving more than half of all aid.
Despite a 12.3 percent increase in aid to the 49 least developed countries (LDCs) in 2013, bilateral aid to sub-Saharan Africa fell four percent between 2012 and 2013 to 26.2 billion dollars.
Close the trade gaps
We need a final push towards improving market access for developing countries, and continuing efforts to eliminate all agricultural export subsidies, trade-distorting domestic support and protectionist policies that inhibit access to the global economy.
Debt relief promises kept, but new risks arise
Debt relief programmes for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) are coming to a conclusion. Under the HIPC initiative, 35 of 39 eligible countries have reached the completion point as of March 2014 and as a result, debt service burdens have been reduced substantially.
It is encouraging that government spending on poverty reduction in these countries has increased considerably. Nonetheless, some of these countries are again at risk of debt distress and the group known as “small States” is particularly at risk because they often do not qualify for debt relief.
Greater access to essential medicines and technologies needed now
Global action and awareness has enhanced access to affordable essential medicines. However, the stock of medicines in many developing countries remains insufficient and unaffordable.
Developing countries also have more access to some new technologies, especially information and communication technologies. Yet, large gaps remain in access to many new technologies, such as broadband Internet because of the high cost.
The work ahead for the international community has been laid out. Now is the time for the world to seize this opportunity to stand by our promises and deliver on our commitments to eradicate poverty, raise people’s living standards and sustain the environment.
As the deadline for achieving the MDGs approaches and Member States of the United Nations prepare to launch a new sustainable development agenda, we must do our utmost to close the remaining gaps. With little more than one year remaining, now is the time to take action.
Let us all work together—governments, international institutions, all citizens of the globe—to commit to concrete accelerated actions in achieving all MDGs, as well as to a renewed global development cooperation, to underpin our development efforts, so that we can usher in a more sustainable future.
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