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Urgency needed over UN goals to slash global poverty, inequality

Monday, July 11, 2016 - 07:28
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A global commitment to combat extreme poverty and inequality agreed in a blaze of publicity last year needs to be put into action before it is too late, a UK-based think tank on development and humanitarian issues warned on Monday.

[LONDON] A global commitment to combat extreme poverty and inequality agreed in a blaze of publicity last year needs to be put into action before it is too late, a UK-based think tank on development and humanitarian issues warned on Monday.

The Overseas Development Institute (ODI) warned in a report that slow implementation of the UN's global goals, the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), would stall advances against rising global inequality.

UN member states agreed last September to a 15-year blueprint with 17 ambitious goals and 169 targets to try to tackle the world's most troubling problems.

The ODI report, titled "Leaving No One Behind", was released ahead of a high level political forum in New York from July 11-20 to follow up on the goals.

ODI researcher Liz Stuart said the first 1,000 days for the goals that came into effect on January 1 this year, replacing the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), were critical.

"This report is a stark warning that leaving this for three years could be too late ... these goals have been designed with governments so there are no excuses for a slow start," Ms Stuart told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

"It is clear that all governments need to do more to reach out to the very poor and marginalised people in their countries."

Ms Stuart said some countries had started to look at ways of implementing the SDGs but others had yet to start, with all countries allowed to develop their own targets best suitable for delivering the targets by 2030.

The report points out that sub Saharan Africa is the continent that has the furthest to go in terms to eliminate extreme poverty - or people living on less than US$1 a day - saying that the current rate of progress needs to double.

The ODI study also showed African countries need to reduce preventable child deaths at a rate of over 7 per cent a year between 2015 and 2030 to meet the targets in the global goals.

"If no action is taken until 2018, the rate increases to over 9 per cent a year, or 12 per cent by 2021," the report said.

Ms Stuart said it would be difficult to achieve the 2030 agenda if action was not taken in the first few years while stressing that major results can be delivered in three years.

She cited examples such as Eritrea introducing an educational programme that put 5,000 children of nomadic herders into school in two years and a Senegal electricity project that increased the number of people with power in 191 villages to 90,000 in 2012 from 17,000 two years earlier.

"This is the art of feasibility and not fantasy policy making," she said.

REUTERS