Preparatory Meeting for the ECOSOC 2005 High-Level Segment Achieving the internationally agreed development goals, including those contained in the Millennium Declaration, as well as implementing the outcomes of the major United Nations conferences and summits: Progress made,
challenges and opportunities
16–17 March 2005 | United Nations headquarters, New York
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Highlights from Wednesday, 16 March 2005

The preparatory meeting for the United Nations Economic and Social Council's (ECOSOC) 2005 High-level segment opened today at UN headquarters in New York. The morning session heard opening statements from: Munir Akram, President of ECOSOC; Eduardo Sevilla Samoza, Nicaragua’s Ambassador to the UN; José Antonio Ocampo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs; and a key-note address from Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General on the MDGs.

Also in the morning delegates participated in a roundtable discussion on eradication of poverty and hunger. In the afternoon, delegates met in two parallel roundtables to address: education and literacy; and health and mortality.


Opening panel of the ECOSOC 2005 Preparatory meeting.

Munir Akram, President of ECOSOC (Pakistan), underscored the special significance of the ECOSOC High-level segment, noting that word leaders gather in September to review the implementation of the Millennium Declaration, including the Millennium Development Goals, and celebrate the 60th anniversary of the UN. Edardo Sevilla Somoza, Nicaragua’s Ambassador to the UN, speaking on behalf of UN General Assembly President Jean Ping, said the decision by ECOSOC to focus its High-level segment on the implementation of the international development goals, including those in the Millennium Declaration, is an appropriate choice, and noted that monitoring progress, and identifying the challenges and opportunities should be the Council’s starting point. José Antonio Ocampo, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs, underscored that the UN Development Agenda is the result of the main UN Conferences and Summits and represents the specific contribution of the UN to building a dynamic and equitable society in the age of globalization.

Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General on the MDGs, urged developed countries to bring about the promise made 35 years ago to invest 0.7% of their GDP to ODA. José Antonio Ocampo and Edardo Sevilla Somoza.

Participants of the opening session.

Roundtable Discussions

Roundtable on Eradication of Poverty and Hunger.

Chair of the roundtable, Munir Akram, President of ECOSOC (Pakistan,) stressed that many countries are failing to achieve the goals they have set and highlighted the deterioration of poverty indexes in a large number of countries. Moderator, Hartwig de Haen, Assistant-Director-General, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), recognized the important steps taken during the last decades to reduce hunger, and expressed concern over current levels of extreme poverty, affecting 1.2 billion people of the world saying that this is totally unacceptable. Judith Mbula Bahemuka, Kenya’s Ambassador to the UN, highlighted the interdependence of the MDGs and said that their realization can only be accomplished if actions taken feed on one another.

Derek Byerlee, World Bank, highlighted the importance of making progress in agriculture and rural development since 70% of the world’s poor people live in rural areas. Geeta Rao Gupta, International Center for Research on Women, underscored that making investments in women and girls is crucial for reducing inequalities and meeting the MDGs. Gary Howe, International Fund for Agricultural Development, underscored the importance of focusing on the rural development issues in developing countries, particularly in agriculture and in new rural employment and income opportunities.

Noting the report of the World Commission on the Social Dimension of Globalization, Eddie Lee, International Labour Organization, underscored the need for fair global trading systems and fair globalization to reduce poverty. Byron Blake, Jamaica, underscored, inter alia, the need for the immediate transfer of resources; tackling the debt problem; building institutional and productive capacities; and changing  the international trade environment to allow for the trade in the products of the poor. Expressing its commitment to meeting the MDGs, Jean-Marc Hoscheit, Luxemburg, for the EU, underscored the need to: strengthen implementation at national and local levels, focus on Africa, and coordinate long term efforts to fight hunger and attain the MDGs and other outcomes of UN summits.

Zhang Yishan, China, said that poverty relief is not the same as reducing poverty, and said poverty reduction is a long-term and persistent process. The Secretariat of the Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues stressed a focus on the poverty concerns of indigenous and tribal people, and noted that many MDG country reports do not adequately reflect the conditions of indigenous people. Colombia stressed the importance of rethinking the current direction of globalization, and noted that measures should not be palliative and must address structural issues.

Lucy Tamlyn, Unites States, outlined national initiatives to address chronic hunger and poverty, focusing on Africa . Anwarul Chowdhury, UN-Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for LDCs, LLDCs and SIDS (OHRLLS), said poverty and hunger are two sides of the same coin and said action in Least Developed Countries is key for meeting the MDGs. Amb. Ali Mchumo, Common Fund for Commodities (CFC) highlighted the role of commodity trade on poverty reduction and social development.

Roundtable on Health and Mortality

Ali Hachani, ECOSOC Vice-President (Tunisia) said the MDGs are a synthesis of the key outcomes of the major UN Conference and Summits of the 1990s, and noted that health-related measures are addressed in three of the eight MDGs, as well as in other key international development goals.

France Donnay, Chief, Reproductive Health Branch, UN Population Fund (UNFPA) said the MDGs cannot be achieved without explicit recognition of the key linkages with the goals of the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), and noted that sexual and reproductive health is essential for reaching the MDGs.

Andrew Cassels, Director for Health and Development Policy, World Health Organization (WHO), underlined that health systems and making sure that there are enough health workers to do the job lie at the centre of the challenge of achieving the health MDGs. There is progress on this agenda but more, better and better harmonized aid for health and related infrastructure investments is urgently needed.

Delanyo Dovlo, member of the Rockefeller Foundation, World Bank and WHO Joint Learning Initiative’s Human Resources Working Group on Africa, addressed the cost of inaction in the health sector. Lynn Freedman, Columbia University and member of the Millennium Project’s Task Force on Child Health and Maternal Health, proposed an additional MDG-based indicator to address the strengthening of health systems, and to track coverage and functioning of emergency obstetrician care. Noting the major global causes of child mortality, Agnes Binagwaho, Rwanda’s National Commission to Fight AIDS and co-coordinator of the Millennium Project’s Task Force on HIV/AIDS, said that everyday “silent tsunamis” occur in the poorest countries.

Roundtable on Education and Literacy

Moderator Anne Therese Ndong-Jatta highlighted the promotion of a gender inclusive world through education, basic literacy and numerosy, and the need to address reform and accountability to ensure meeting the MDG goals. Beverly Jones, Academy of Educational Development, presented a case of school improvement in Nicaragua focusing on quality teaching and quality classrooms in poor communities. Anne Scholz, School Sisters of Notre Dame, highlighted the need to ensure quality education to prevent drop-out and repetition rates, and the importance of granting not just access to education, but meaningful education that promotes peace and tolerance.

From left to right: Chair Johan Verbeke, ECOSOC Vice-President (Belgium), Moderator Ann Therese Ndong-Jatta, Director Division of Basic Education, UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Beverly Jones, Academy of Educational Development, and Anne Scholz, School Sisters of Notre Dame.

Participants to the Roundtable on Education and Literacy

Miscellaneous photos

Mark McGillivray, UNU-WIDER.





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