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Ban Ki-moon: Region must stick to UN goals

lNEW YORK
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon is urging Caribbean and other developing countries to keep alive the promise of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
In a message marking 1,000 days before the target date to achieve what he described as “a vital moment in history’s largest and most successful anti-poverty push”, Ban said while a journey of a 1,000 miles begins with a single step ,“starting this week, we can march a thousand days forward into a new future”.
Many Caribbean countries have pledged to be part of the MDGS by 2015, agreeing to the eight goals set out in 2000 to cut global poverty and hunger by half, fight climate change and disease, tackle unsafe water and sanitation, expand education and open doors of opportunity for girls and women. 
The UN Secretary General said it was not the first time leaders had made lofty promises and that cynics expected the MDGs to be abandoned as too ambitious.
He said in the last 12 years, 600 million people have risen from extreme poverty and a record number of children are in primary school, with an equal number of girls and boys for the first time. Maternal and child mortality have dropped. Targeted investments in fighting malaria, HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis have saved millions of lives.  Africa has cut AIDS-related deaths by one-third in just the past six years.
“There are also goals and targets where we need far more progress. Too many women still die in childbirth when we have the means to save them. Too many communities still lack basic sanitation, making unsafe water a deadly threat. In many parts of the world, rich and poor alike, inequalities are growing. Too many are still being left behind.”
But he said to accelerate action, the international community should take four steps now.
He said they must first scale up success through strategic and targeted investments that have a multiplier effect, boosting results in all other areas.
“Ensuring equal access by women and girls to education, health care, nutrition and economic opportunities is one of the most powerful drivers of progress across all the goals.”
Ban also urged countries to focus on the poorest and most vulnerable countries, home to some 1.5 billion people. 
“Often dogged by famine, conflict, poor governance and large-scale organised criminal violence, these countries are finding it most difficult to make progress despite their best efforts...
“Third, we must keep financial promises. Budgets cannot be balanced on the backs of the poorest and most vulnerable. It is ethically unacceptable and it will help neither donor nor recipient.”
The Secretary General said the thousand-day mark should be a call to action to a global movement from governments to the grassroots who have been so critical to success. 
He said success in the next 1,000 days will not only improve the lives of millions, it will add momentum as we plan for beyond 2015 and the challenges of sustainable development. 
“Let us make the most of the next 1,000 days and make good on our Millennium promise,” Ban Ki-Moon added.
—CMC
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