Helen Clark became the Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme on 17 April 2009, and is the first woman to lead the organization. She is also the Chair of the United Nations Development Group, a committee consisting of the heads of all UN funds, programmes and departments working on development issues.
Helen Clark: International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
Statement by UNDP Administrator Helen Clark on the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, October 17, 2012
International Day for the Eradication of Poverty offers an opportunity for reflection on progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The most recent MDG progress report indicates that the global target of cutting in half the proportion of people living on under $1.25 per day was met in 2010. Since 1990, hundreds of millions of people are no longer living in extreme poverty and have the opportunity to live better lives.
The targets of expanding access to improved sources of water and significantly improving the lives of at least 100 million slum dwellers have also been met. Additionally, in the last decade, global malaria deaths declined by nearly a third, and many countries have achieved near parity in primary education enrolment between girls and boys.
The Millennium Development Goals have succeeded in creating a common agenda which unites countries and peoples around the world. Their time-bound, clear, and measurable targets have focused action on the most basic indicators of sustainable human development.
But more effort is needed to sustain these gains and reach those still untouched by this progress. Disparities within and between countries remain striking. Overburdened and ill-equipped institutions, neglected agricultural sectors, missing sanitation and energy services, chronic malnutrition, and discrimination against women and girls, ethnic minorities, and other groups remain barriers to progress in many countries.
The experiences of countries striving to achieve the MDGs provides vital information on how to move beyond their 2015 target date. From experience, we know that national ownership and leadership are critical for success. We know that gender equality, health improvements, and access to energy can drive progress across the Goals. We know that partnerships work, and that targeted investments can bring rapid improvements. We know that effective policies, drawn from what works, can bring about dramatic change. And we know that in our increasingly interdependent and volatile world, development will only succeed and endure if it is sustainable development.
Today, we do have reason to celebrate the progress made to eradicate extreme poverty, but we must continue to work together on its eradication. I hope that the global development agenda beyond 2015 will reflect this level of ambition.