HC Deb 27 October 2003 vol 412 cc52-3WS
Mr. Wray

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if he will make a statement on recent progress towards the Millennium Development Goals. [133140]

Hilary Benn

There has been mixed progress towards the 2015 targets associated with the Millennium Development Goals. The proportion of the developing world population living in absolute poverty, on less than $1 a day, fell from 28 per cent. in 1990 to 22 per cent. in 2000. Assuming global economic growth remains on track the headline target of halving absolute poverty between 1990 and 2015 will be met. However progress across regions is uneven. Good progress in Asia has been accompanied by little change in the proportion in absolute poverty in sub-Saharan Africa. The global target to halve the proportion of people without access to safe water between 1990 and 2015 is also on track.

Other targets, including universal primary schooling, gender equality in school, reductions in child and maternal mortality and combating HIV/AIDS, will require a significant increase in effort to be achieved. However, the substantial progress that individual countries have achieved demonstrates that the targets could still be reached with the right policies and political will.

The MDGs will only be achieved through a partnership between rich and poor countries. The final goal covers action needed by developed countries to increase and improve aid flows and reform the trade system. The recent breakdown of talks in Cancun aimed at achieving a fairer global trading system was a particular disappointment, and the UK Government are working hard to ensure an agreement can be reached.

DFID has put the achievement of the MDGs at the heart of its work, and we are working with our partners to do all we can to meet these targets. A particular concern is sub-Saharan Africa and supporting progress in this region is a priority for DFID.

A more comprehensive assessment of progress towards the goals is provided in the UN Secretary General's 2003 report on the implementation of the Millennium Declaration: http://ods-dds-ny.un.org/doc/ UNDOC/GEN/N03/481/57/PDF/N0348157.pdf?Open Element.

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