The Guadian newspaper has launched a development blog at the time of MDG summit. Hopefully, others will follow!
Millennium development goals: governments pledge £25.5bn to eradicate world poverty
22 September 2010, 20:19:46 Sarah Boseley, Polly Curtis
Nick Clegg backs drive to combat malaria which kills many pregnant women and children under five
Governments, businesses and aid organisations today made commitments totalling $40bn (£25.5bn) backing the UN secretary general's plan to reach goals on alleviating world poverty and ill-health by 2015.
At a set-piece session at the United Nations, one leader after another stood up to promise to back Ban Ki-moon's strategy to achieve the eight millennium development goals (MDGs) by concentrating on the health of mothers and their children.
"We all know what works to save women's and children's lives, and we all know that women and children are critical to all of the MDGs," said the secretary general. "Today we are witnessing the kind of leadership we have long needed."
Britain's deputy prime minister, Nick Clegg, committed the UK to double the number of women's and children's lives saved by reorienting Britain's aid programme to put their needs at its core – in addition to new funding for malaria.
He acknowledged that all countries found it tough to justify more spending on aid during a recession but urged other leaders not to give up.
"We have a job to explain to people back home that this isn't only the right thing to do for moral reasons, to heal the grotesque divisions between wealth and poverty in the world, to tackle human suffering, to restore a greater sense of balance between one part of the world and another, but that it's also in our own financial and our enlightened self-interest – 22 of the 24 countries that are furthest away from the MDGs are steeped in conflict. Conflict breeds radicalism, extremism, terrorism."
In his first major address on the world stage – his speech was followed by an address from President Obama – Clegg also issued a demand that other countries do not shy away from their responsibilities. "My message to you today, from the UK government, is this: we will keep our promises and we expect the rest of the international community to do the same."
The fifth goal – a pledge to cut the numbers of women dying in pregnancy and childbirth by three-quarters – is the furthest behind of those agreed by the G8, the world's richest countries, in 2000. The deadline set for their achievement was 2015. In some countries, one woman in eight dies in childbirth, Ban said. A major push to improve their health will not only reduce deaths but help keep children alive and in education and out of poverty.
"In many parts of the world, women have yet to benefit from advances that made childbirth much safer nearly 100 years ago," he said. "Millions of children die from malnutrition and diseases which we have known how to treat for decades. These realities are simply unacceptable." The strategy, he added, included women's empowerment. "Women must lead the way," he said.
Not only donor countries but also developing nations promised to spend more on the poorest people in their societies. Tanzania promised to increase health spending from 12% to 15% of the national budget by 2015 and increase the numbers of health workers it trains and employs. Rwanda's president, Paul Kagame, who has played a prominent role in the summit and was warmly praised a few days ago by Ban as a "stellar leader", pledged to spend 15% of the budget on health by 2012. His country has already brought maternal mortality down from 1,071 to 383 per 100,000 births between 2000 and 2008.
Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, announced a new alliance on maternal health between USAID, the UK, Australia and the Gates Foundation, which will focus on the dearth of family planning in developing countries. Norway, Australia and France were among those promising substantial new money. Pledges also came from aid organisations, philanthropic foundations and businesses.