On January 17, a 3,000-page report from the Millennium Project -- researched by 265 scientists, economists, academics, and development experts from around the globe -- was handed to United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. It outlined in detail how the UN can eliminate extreme poverty throughout the world by 2015.
Headed by Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs, the Millennium Project aims to make the world a safer place for all its inhabitants through poverty elimination and education. Citizen's for Global Solutions reports on their web site that 'the Millennium Goals are considered crucial to the success of international efforts to reign in terrorism and violent instabilities within and between countries.' They quote Sachs, who says, 'breaking the poverty trap of the poorest countries is a matter of extreme urgency for our security. When people lack access to food, medical care, safe drinking water, and a chance at a better future, their societies are likely to experience instability and unrest that spills over to the rest of the world.'
The Millennium Project's web site points out that providing world citizens living in poverty with infrastructure, access to health care, and an education will make them less vulnerable to disasters, hunger, and environmental degradation. For instance, 'every year, 300 to 500 million cases of illness worldwide are due to malaria,' something that could be eliminated by giving people living in susceptible areas mosquito nets for their beds.
Because the plan's financial structure is front-loaded, one of the UN's biggest obstacles will be convincing G-8 countries to double their foreign aid. The United States and other UN countries pledged to give 0.7% of their GDP to global development at the Millennium Summit in 2000. Currently, the actual international development funding average for UN countries is .25%, with the United States giving only 0.15%.
The Millennium Project lists 13 international governments on its web site that have voiced supported for the Millennium Project since the release of its report one month ago. The US has yet to make the list. Don Kraus, executive vice president for Citizens for Global Solutions, points out that, unlike President Clinton, President Bush does not have an ambassador to the UN on his cabinet, which has been 'problematic' when dealing with the international community. He also notes that while Bush has vowed 'to defend our security and spread freedom by building effective multinational and multilateral institutions,' relations between the US and the UN have not been strong in the past few years; a situation made worse when Sen. Norm Coleman called for the resignation of Kofi Annan over the Oil for Food scandal.
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