“The idea is, with five years to go, to remind the world’s wealthy and developing countries alike of the commitments they made and to encourage them to recommit to these goals by dedicating new resources and initiatives for meeting them,” says Farhan Haq, a press assistant to Mr. Ban. The secretary-general, he said, “will remind the leaders that these are the governments’ own goals, and that the summit … is about finding new ways of achieving them.”
The Millennium Development Goals were originally envisioned as a way of matching a needed revitalization and updating of global development efforts with the so-called “peace dividend” resulting from the end of the cold war. The goals’ start date of 2000 coincided with a boom in both the world economy and a proliferation of international nongovernmental organizatons addressing global poverty issues.
But this week’s “rededication” summit is being held amid a global economic downturn. Ban is mindful of the economic difficulties many countries face, Mr. Haq says, but also believes that the current difficulties must not obscure the long-term gains to be reaped by a renewed effort to reach the goals.
In opening the development goals summit Tuesday, Ban said the “books” of the world’s well-off “must not be balanced on the backs of the poor.” The summit concludes Wednesday afternoon, when many eyes will be focused on President Obama, who will offer the US vision for meeting the goals.