War on poverty 'doomed' by US apathy
Developed nations fail to meet promises on fighting deprivation
Published 21/09/2010 | 05:00
Global efforts to tackle poverty are doomed to failure because of an apparent lack of interest in Washington, according to an expert behind the plan.
Professor Jeffrey Sachs, a New York-based economist, said the world would fail to meet the eight targets to reduce deprivation adopted as Millennium Development Goals in 2000 because the US had effectively turned away from the process.
World leaders gathered in New York for a three-day conference yesterday to discuss progress on the goals, which are aimed at halving poverty, ensuring every child completes primary school, tackling killer diseases and addressing the impacts of environment change.
"In the US, it's not as if people are debating whether we are going to meet the promises or not, there is simply no debate at all," said Prof Sachs.
"If the Obama administration began committing what it promised it would, all the goals could be met in Africa by 2015."
Developed nations had delivered less than half the €38bn of increased aid promised at the Gleneagles G8 summit in 2005, with Britain one of the few showing sustained commitment to meet its promises. It was on target to meet a pledge to give 0.7pc of national income in aid by 2013, while the US fell behind, giving just 0.2pc in 2009.
Italy, Spain, Greece and Ireland were slipping behind on their promises, said Prof Sachs, director of the Earth Institute and an adviser to Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary General.
"Even before the financial crisis, many countries were heading for failure in terms of meeting their obligations," he said.
Activists believe the goals provide a framework for working with impoverished African and Asian nations.
Michael Keating, director of the Africa Progress Panel, took a positive view. He said the "sense of common purpose and direction" created by the goals meant a great deal had been achieved. (© Daily Telegraph, London)