UNDP chief calls for scaled-up efforts to fight poverty

Oct 17, 2012

New York — Disparities within and between countries remain "striking," requiring more work toward global anti-poverty goals, UN Development Programme (UNDP) head Helen Clark said today.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) have already helped hundreds of millions of people on the path to better lives and “have succeeded in creating a common agenda which unites countries and peoples around the world,” Helen Clark said in a statement marking the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

“But more effort is needed to sustain these gains and reach those still untouched by this progress,” she added. “Disparities within and between countries remain striking. Overburdened and ill-equipped institutions, neglected agricultural sectors, missing sanitation and energy services, chronic malnutrition, and discrimination against women and girls, ethnic minorities, and other groups remain barriers to progress in many countries.”

According to the most recent MDG progress report, the global target of halving the proportion of people living on less than US$1.25 daily was met in 2010.

“The targets of expanding access to improved sources of water and significantly improving the lives of at least 100 million slum-dwellers have also been met,” Miss Clark said. “In the last decade, global malaria deaths declined by nearly a third, and many countries have achieved near parity in primary education enrolment between girls and boys.”

Gender equality, health improvements, and access to energy can drive progress to meet the MDGs, while partnerships and targeted investments can play a critical role.

“Today, we do have reason to celebrate the progress made to eradicate extreme poverty, but we must continue to work together on its eradication.  I hope that the global development agenda beyond 2015 will reflect this level of ambition,” Miss Clark said.

The MDGs are eight international development goals established following the UN Millennium Summit in 2000, after adoption of the UN Millennium Declaration. All 193 UN Member States and numerous international organizations agreed to achieve the goals by the year 2015.

They include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education; promoting gender equality and empowering women; combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases; and launching a global partnership for sustainable development.

UNDP has been designated as the MDG scorekeeper for the United Nations, and a vast segment of UNDP's work is devoted to poverty eradication.

Miss Clark also serves as Chair of the UN Development Group (UNDG), a committee comprising the heads of all UN funds, programmes, and departments working on development issues.

UNDG has endorsed UNDP’s field-tested MDG Acceleration Framework, which offers a way to target MDGs lagging behind in specific countries, as well as prioritize solutions to these bottlenecks.


  • 1.2 billion people worldwide are hungry, 70 percent of them female
  • Two-thirds of people living with HIV worldwide are in Sub-Saharan Africa, most of them female
  • Children in developing regions are more than twice as likely to die before their fifth birthdays as children born to mothers with secondary or further education
  • Millions of children start school but drop out, leaving them without basic literacy and numeracy

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