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Bretten Woods institutions say progress on development goals still wanting

New York, 13 April 2005
Worldwide progress towards meeting the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) is still wanting, and rich and poor countries alike must step up their efforts to reach the set of recommendations and targets designed to reduce or eliminate numerous social ills by 2015, a new report by the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) says.

"The credibility of the entire development community is at stake as never before," World Bank President James Wolfensohn said yesterday in introducing the Global Monitoring Report for 2005, the second annual dossier of its kind.

"Rich countries must now deliver on the promises they have made in terms of aid, trade and debt relief, and the developing countries - especially in sub-Saharan Africa - need to aim higher and do better in terms of their own policies and governance and to make more effective use of aid," he said.

The MDGs were agreed on by 180 countries at a UN millennium summit in 2000.

"Behind cold data on the MDGs are real people and lack of progress has real and tragic consequences," said the lead report author, Zia Qureshi of the World Bank. "Every week, 200,000 children under 5 die of disease. Every week 10,000 women die giving birth. In sub-Saharan Africa alone this year, 2 million people will die of AIDS. Worldwide, more than 100 million children in developing countries are not in school."

The report will be the subject of discussion at the spring ministerial meeting of the two Bretton Woods institutions, which are part of the network of international financial institutions (IFIs), at the July summit of the Group of Eight (G-8) most industrialized countries and at the UN summit in September.

The report calls on developing countries to devise their own poverty reduction strategies and improve their environment for private-sector-led economic growth by strengthening governance, improving the business environment, investing in infrastructure and providing basic human services.

An ambitious Doha Round of the World Trade Organization (WTO), scheduled to end next year, should include "a major reform of agricultural trade policies in developed countries" and "aid-for-trade" policies intensified to help poor countries address domestic obstacles to their exporting, such as inadequate infrastructure.

Official development assistance (ODA) from the donor countries should be doubled over the next five years, particularly for low-income countries, "with the pace of the increase aligned with recipients' absorptive capacity," while innovative financing mechanisms should be explored to complement aid flows.

The European Union (EU) announced yesterday that it was raising its aid targets and providing an additional $25 billion by 2010.

The report says the IFIs, which include the multilateral development banks, should deepen poverty reduction strategies in low-income countries, streamline conditionality and investment lending to middle-income countries and support the efforts of countries "to manage for development results," which would include strengthening their ability to collect development statistics.

Giving hope to economic planners were recent results in certain countries, the report says. China's growth between 1981 and 2001 reduced the proportion of its extremely poor to 21 per cent from 40 per cent of the population, while Viet Nam reduced extreme poverty to 14 per cent in 2002 from 51 per cent in 1990.

The goal to halve poverty by 2015 would likely be met at the global level, but not in sub-Saharan Africa unless progress there was accelerated quickly, it says.

In this regard, the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) and its African Peer Review Mechanism are promising African-led initiatives to strengthen institutions, it says.

Twelve African countries are currently experiencing growth spurts above the trends for the region, with average gross domestic product (GDP) growth over the last decade of 5.5 per cent or more, the report says.
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