Rebeca Grynspan: Remarks at Millennium Development Goals Press Conference

Mar 8, 2012

It is a pleasure to be here with the Secretary-General, Professor Sachs, and with all of you on International Women’s Day, and to have the opportunity to talk about the Millennium Development Goals.  I will start by repeating what evidence shows and has been said so many times: investing in women and girls and empowering women is one of the best ways to make faster progress on the MDGs.  


As the Secretary-General has said, we must celebrate the good news that the Millennium Development Goals targets on extreme poverty and water have been met, and that even the poorest regions of the world are showing strong progress.  Let's also rejoice about the progress on malaria and TB, the near parity in primary education, and the improved conditions for millions of slum dwellers.


Millions of people around the world are escaping extreme poverty and living healthier lives with hopes for a better future.  


These developments must re-energize our commitment and belief that more can be done by 2015.  We know that a lot of effort is needed to sustain these gains and that, despite real progress, there are still many vulnerable people to reach, several targets to attain – the Secretary-General mentioned nutrition, sanitation, stunting and hunger - and many countries to support.  


We must reach those left behind or at risk of being left behind, who are not well represented in the aggregate figures because of deep inequalities: the poorest of the poor and those disadvantaged, stigmatized, or discriminated against because of their sex, age, race, ethnicity, place of residence, or disability. 


We still have a long way to go in empowering women and girls and protecting all from the devastating effects of multiple crises, be they conflicts, natural disasters, or economic and food price shocks.  


The UN Development group has been implementing the “MDG Acceleration Framework” to help countries focus and direct their efforts to remove barriers and bottlenecks to progress, share and find solutions, bring innovation and foster partnerships. Many countries have already adopted these frameworks, and we expect the number of countries using them to grow to thirty by the end of the year.  


With a food crisis looming, Niger for example is using their acceleration plan to tackle the MDG target on hunger by addressing land titling, irrigation infrastructure, support for small farmers, and reducing the vulnerability of marginalized people through strengthened social protection systems.  Nigeriens have invested their own resources into this effort, and it is important that the international community support them to avoid the crisis turning into a disaster.


Rio +20 presents an opportunity to move towards sustainable development in an integrated manner in the social, economic, and environmental spheres, and integrated green and inclusive growth  that also reduces poverty, inequality, and ecosystem degradation.  


The MDGs have been a strong and beneficial force for bringing about real improvements in millions of people’s lives because they didn't stop at the abstract level of a global fora but helped to build real change, brick by brick, in countries and communities.  So more than ever, knowing that it can be done, we have the moral obligation to continue and not stop until this progress can be enjoyed by all.

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