The Words of the Oswald Family

World NGOs Debate UN Millennium Goals

Rachel Oswald
Published November 20, 2005
Special to World Peace Herald

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic -- Some 300 leaders of more than 70 non-governmental organizations from around the globe met here Saturday to discuss the implementation of the United Nations' Millennium Development Goals.

All 191 member states of the United Nations have pledged by 2015 to meet the eight MDGs which were established in 2000. These goals include the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, universal primary education, and environmental sustainability.

Half of the world's population, nearly 3 billion people, lives on less than two dollars a day according to a World Bank report.

"Poverty is another word for disempowerment, disenfranchisement, weakness, and marginalization," said Solo Dowuona-Hammond, founder of Community Services Systems, an NGO dedicated to poverty alleviation, especially in third world nations.

The U.N. 2005 progress report on Millennium Development Goals (MDG) revealed that global poverty rates are falling, particularly in Asia, but that millions more have sunken further into poverty, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

"The time is to create, not to review, not to discuss," said Richard Zeif, advisor with the U.N. office of the undersecretary general and high representative for the least developed countries. Zeif called for greater NGO and U.N. cooperation.

"The key word of the day is partnership," Zeif said.

Punyabrata Basak, another event speaker and an advisor on environment and disaster management for the Indian government said that the most important goal to focus on was sustaining environmental stability, because it would be have the greatest impact on the other seven MDGs.

According to Basak water scarcity coincides with hunger, economic poverty and high rates of child mortality and maternal mortality.

"None of the MDGs can be effective or sustainable without addressing the basic issues of clean water and sanitation," Basak said.

Adipya Sharma, medical student and conference participant said that "70 percent of hospital beds are occupied due to water born diseases."

Access to clean drinking water has increased according to the report, but half of the developing world still lacks toilets. Nearly one billion people live in urban slums because the growth of the urban population has outpaced improvements in housing and adequate jobs.

Dowuona-Hammond said that the MDGs should be approached from three angles; focus on the family, on education and on poverty alleviation.

"Family is the first agent of socialization which is an enormous responsibility. Schools and religious institutions should be there to supplement the work of the family," said Dowuona-Hammond.

Five developing regions are approaching universal enrollment but in sub-Saharan Africa, less than two thirds of children are enrolled in primary school according to the U.N report.

"Education is the essence of human development, without education development cannot be sustained," said Dowuona-Hammond.

The conference was sponsored by the World Association of NGOs, an international organization that unites NGOs worldwide through common causes such as economic development, inter-faith dialogues and human rights. WANGO considers Rev. Sun Myung Moon to be the source of its founding vision, and he remains its major supporter. Rev. Moon founded News World Communications, which publishes World Peace Herald.

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