Tuesday, 19 October 2004

Questions (63)

Thomas P. Broughan

Question:

191 Mr. Broughan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the position on the achievement of the world millennium goals; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25283/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Foreign)

The declaration which was adopted at the UN millennium summit in 2000 included eight millennium development goals, MDGs. The goals set specific time-bound measurable targets to be achieved by 2015 in areas such as the reduction in the number of people living in extreme poverty, universal primary education, maternal and child mortality and HIV-AIDS.

The Secretary General will conduct the first major review of progress in the implementation of the MDGs in 2005. Already it is evident that greater effort will be required on the part of the international community if the MDGs are to be achieved by the target date. In a recent report, the UN Secretary General Kofi Annan stated:

Despite greater endorsement of the Millennium Development Goals and some encouraging regional and subregional trends, as a whole the world is not optimizing its performance. Some regions and countries are making little progress towards any of the Goals. Many sub-Saharan African countries will need special support to accelerate progress sufficiently to catch up.

From the outset, Ireland has been fully committed to the achievement of all of the MDGs. We have adopted achievement of the MDGs as the overarching framework for our development co-operation. Our overseas aid programme is already focused on those sectors that are most critical to the success of the MDGs such as education, health, HIV-AIDS, water and sanitation. Gender and environmental sustainability are also highlighted as important cross-cutting issues throughout the programme.

As the world's largest aid donor, the EU has a major role to play in the achievement of the MDGs. During our recent Presidency of the EU, we were a strong advocate of early action to ensure a strong and visible EU contribution to next year's major review. Our EU partners agreed to our suggestion for a stock-taking exercise to be co-ordinated by the Commission with a view to providing a consolidated EU contribution to next year's review.

All member states, including Ireland, are currently engaged in carrying out that exercise. My Department is co-ordinating Ireland's submission which is to be completed shortly. This submission will focus, in particular, on MDG eight which provides for a global partnership for development and embraces such issues as increased ODA, greater policy coherence for development, trade and debt. In his address to the National Forum on Europe, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, Deputy Dermot Ahern, reasserted Ireland's commitment to meeting the UN's 0.7% of GNP overseas development aid target.

I sincerely hope that national and international preparations for next year's major progress review of the millennium development goals will make the international community face up to the fact that, while there has been some progress, much more needs to be done to achieve the MDGs by 2015.