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Remarks by UN Secretary General to High Level Plenary Meeting of the General Assembly on the Millennium Development Goals
20 September, 2010  New York


Mr. President of the 65th General Assembly,
Distinguished Heads of State and Government,
Mr. President of the 64th General Assembly,
Ladies and gentlemen,


Welcome to the Millennium Development Goals Summit. I thank the world’s leaders for being here in such impressive numbers.


We are here because the fight for a more prosperous, stable and equitable world is at the heart itself of the mission of the United Nations. We are here because ten years ago, meeting here at the highest level, the international community promised to spare no effort to free the entire human race from want.


The eight Millennium Development Goals were a breakthrough. Together, we created a blueprint for ending extreme poverty. We defined achievable targets and timetables. We established a framework that all partners, even those with different views, have been able to embrace.


We brought new urgency to an age-old mission. And now, we have real results. New thinking and path-breaking public-private partnerships. Dramatic increases in school enrolment. Expanded access to clean water. Better control of disease. The spread of technology – from mobile to green. We have more development success stories than ever before. The transformative impact of the MDGs is undeniable. This is an achievement we can be proud of.


But we must protect these advances, many of which are still fragile. And the clock is ticking, with much more to do …


There is more to do for the mother who watches her children go to bed hungry – a scandal played out a billion times each and every night. There is more to do for the young girl weighed down with wood or water when instead she should be in school. And more to do for the worker far from home in a city slum, watching jobs and remittances disappear amid global recession.


You all know where we stand -- the gaps and the gains, what works and what doesn’t work. The reports we have put before you are filled with statistics, analysis and recommendations – everything we need for effective policies and programmes. We have led you to the river. So what are we asking of you today? To stay true. True to our identity as an international community built on a foundation of solidarity. True to our commitment to end the dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty.


That means making the smart investments in infrastructure, small farmers, social services... and above all in women and girls. On Wednesday I will launch a Global Strategy for Women’s and Children’s Health – our best chance for a multiplier effect across the goals.


Being true means supporting the vulnerable despite the economic crisis. We should not balance budgets on the backs of the poor. We must not draw back from official development assistance – a life-line of billions, for billions.


It means truly fair trade and action on climate change. Deferring the tough decisions to future climate conferences... and future generations… only increases the costs. We need to set a course towards sustainable practices.


Being true means addressing inequality, both among and within countries. Even in countries that have registered impressive gains, inequality eats away at social cohesion.


And it means reconsidering conventional wisdom. Recovery from the economic crisis should not mean a return to the flawed and unjust path that got us into trouble in the first place.




Despite the obstacles, despite the scepticism, despite the fast-approaching deadline of 2015, the Millennium Development Goals are achievable.


This year I visited nearly a dozen countries in Africa and saw for myself what is possible. At the Millennium Village of Mwandama in Malawi…. at the Songhai community in Benin… I saw innovation… integrated projects… and perseverance.


We must reward such faith with resolve of our own. By using the tools we have. By delivering the resources we need. And, above all, by exercising political leadership. I urge you to make the Millennium Development Goals your own.


As our Nigerian citizen ambassador said in the short video that was screened as we were taking our seats: “We’re waiting on you, world leaders”. And as Mingas of Mozambique sings in the MDG song, “Eight Goals for Africa”: “We have the power, at this very hour.”


None of us can be truly fulfilled while so many lack the basics for a life in dignity. None of us should be able to rest easy knowing the fear and despair that pervade the human family. Let us make this investment in a better future for all. There is no global project more worthwhile. Let us send a strong message of hope, of fundamental hope. Let us keep the promise.


Thank you very much.








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