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Progress toward development targets mixed: UN

As clear progress has been achieved toward implementing the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), their overall success is far from assured, said a report released by the United Nations on Monday.

Halfway to a 2015 deadline, there has been significant progress toward the target of halving extreme poverty, with the proportion of people worldwide living on the equivalent of a dollar a day dropping from 32% to 19%, said the Millennium Development Goals Report 2007. If that trend continues, “the MDG poverty reduction target will be met for the world as whole and for most regions,” the report estimated. It added that it has found reason for hope in the fact that some progress is being made “even in those regions where the challenges are greatest.” For example, in sub-Saharan Africa, the number of desperately poor people has “leveled off,” and the region's poverty rate has fallen by nearly 6% since 2000.

Positive news also comes from Asia, where rapid economic growth has put the region comfortably on track to achieve the MDG poverty target. The report cited other signs of progress, including improvement of women's rights, decrease of child mortality worldwide, control of major diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria, and development of sustainable energy technologies. “The results presented in this report suggest that there have been some gains and that success is still possible in most parts of the world,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who presented the report to the UN Economic and Social Council on Monday.

Ban said, however, much remained to be done if the world were to fully meet the eight targeted Goals set by world leaders at the UN-sponsored Millennium Summit in 2000. He pointed to the failure of most developed countries to live up to their commitments to providing “adequate financing within the global partnership for development and its framework for mutual accountability.” “In particular, the lack of any significant increase in Official Development Assistance since 2004 makes it impossible, even for well-governed countries, to meet the MDGs,” Ban said in the report.

According to the report, although impressive reductions in extreme poverty have been achieved in Southern, Southeastern and Eastern Asia, the poverty rate in Western Asia actually doubled from 1990 to 2004. And despite the gains in sub-Saharan Africa, the region's poverty gap remains the highest in the world. Great challenges also remain in the fight against AIDS, reducing women deaths in pregnancy and childbirth and providing access to basic sanitation in poor countries. “There is a clear need for political leaders to take urgent and concerted action,” Ban said. (english.people.com.cn)