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Africa and MDGs High Level
UNGA Events Bulletin

Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
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Volume 153 Number 3 - Wednesday, 24 September 2008
Partnership events took place at United Nations headquarters and nearby venues in New York Tuesday, in conjunction with the High-Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals, which is to take place on 25 September 2008. Highlights of the day included events linking the MDGs to climate change and the environmental agenda, to various local contexts, and to health and equity issues.


This event was presented by UNDP, SNV, ActionAid, UN-Habitat, UNCDF, and the Millennium Campaign.

Session Chair Ad Melkert, UNDP Associate Administrator, introduced the roundtable on the localization of MDGs in the context of bridging the gap between local and national levels, and said the key challenge is to scale up current initiatives.

Mel Senen Sarmiento, Mayor of Calbayog City, the Philippines, said localization means making the MDGs relevant at the local level and to each individual, and attributed the project’s success to engaging with all levels of government, making MDGs meaningful to families, and the availability of baseline data.

Rodrigo Costa da Rocha Lourse, President of the State of Paraná Industry Federation, Brazil, emphasized the need to align MDGs with public policy, sensitize state and municipal authorities, and combine action, monitoring and dissemination, as they are self-reinforcing.

Alex Magereko, Kasese District Development Network, emphasized that: localizing the MDGs requires public-private partnerships; raising awareness on MDG stimulates community demand for services and for accountability; and involving community-based organizations broadens the implementation platform.

Participants discussed the role of the various actors, such as parliamentarians and local leaders, and the involvement of the private sector and micro-finance institutions, particularly in Africa. Some inquired about the extent of women’s involvement in the MDGs and decision-making, and the use of the Agenda 21 guidelines on local participation. Participants also drew attention to the problem of “pockets of poverty,” commended efforts to customize MDGs to children, and proposed recommending that local and national development plans be related to the MDGs.

Aisa Kacyira, Mayor of Kigali, Rwanda, chaired the roundtable on “Empowerment of communities, sustainability and ownership.” She said the presenters would address how best practices can build institutional capacity to ensure that MDGs are met sustainably. Chair Kacyira, on behalf of the Rwandan Minister of Local Government, Musoni Protais, highlighted Rwanda’s implementation strategy, and underscored the need for effective and focused planning, public accountability, and stakeholder workshops to evaluate progress.

Gbleh-bo Brown, Community-Based Recovery and Development, Liberia, called for increased citizen participation, support for local economic development activities, joint programmes and government support in MDGs monitoring.

Nalangu Taki, Narok Community Group, Kenya, said poverty and hunger are the main problems, and called for the monitoring of MDGs at the grassroots level and for government accountability. Minar Pimple, Millennium Campaign in Asia, emphasized: the local monitoring of MDGs to empower marginalized groups; ownership and collaboration of stakeholders; and the linkage of MDGs to government planning processes.

Participants noted that MDGs are similar to traditional development initiatives, but are revolutionary in their integration of planning and monitoring, and the international community’s commitments on resources and coordination. They also noted the importance of indigenous knowledge, accountability, the use of mobile technologies and political will.

In their concluding remarks, Colm Cuanacháin, Action Aid International, noted: the distinction between sensitization (top-down) and mobilization (bottom-up); concerns about discrimination; resources; and hunger as the litmus test for MDG implementation. Father Smangaliso, United Cities and Local Governments of Africa, noted the spirit of solidarity in the MDGs initiative, said beneficiaries should be the agents of MDGs and called for more coordination. Session facilitator Moises Venancia, UNDP, highlighted the need to focus on the voice of the poor, accountability in social services provision, clear budgetary strategies, and South-South dialogue.


This event was presented by the Poverty-Environment Partnership.

Angela Cropper, Deputy Executive Director, UNEP, introduced the event, emphasizing the importance of partnerships in order to meet the MDGs, and said unless environmental sustainability is achieved, humanity will have a difficult time in meeting the other development goals.

Ad Melkert, UNDP Associate Administrator, emphasized that climate change must be tackled as an aspect of human development, and stressed the need for: restructuring the economy, including setting a low carbon track for every country; climate change to escape the confines of environmental ministries and enter those of finance, trade, and economy; and for the Follow-up International Conference on Financing for Development to Review the Implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, to be held in Doha in November, to recognize that more resources are needed to tackle development needs and goals.

Noting that almost no funds have been mobilized for the environment to achieve the MDGs, Puka Temu, Deputy Prime Minister of Papua New Guinea, used the example of deforestation to underscore the need for a broad framework of ecosystem service markets, which require stringent regulatory systems and a mobilization of resources, that must also support sustainable development.

Paolo Galizzi, Fordham Law School, moderated the roundtable on “turning ideas into action.” Jonathan Lash, World Resources Institute, lamented that environmental issues are often neglected during financial crisis, noting that it will not be possible to “bail out” natural systems once they collapse. He highlighted several examples of community-driven development, where establishing long-term secure tenure over resources resulted in more sustainable behavior. He stressed the need to foster both ecologic and economic resilience, adding that this holds the best hope for adaptation to climate change.

Richard Carey, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, stressed that in order to ensure the effectiveness of development assistance, sources of weakness must be identified, including: high transaction costs; low predictability; multiple conditionalities; and weak accountability. He highlighted the Accra Agenda for Action, on implementing the Paris Declaration on Aid Effectiveness.

Philip Dobie, Poverty-Environment Partnership, said that major gains have been achieved in reshaping the development agenda and recognizing that environmental protection is a benefit and not a cost. He noted that environmental issues are being mainstreamed in a way that was unimaginable a decade ago, and added that addressing climate change will require economic transformation.

Jumanne Maghembe, Minister of Education and Vocational Training, Tanzania, noted that when ecosystems are in equilibrium, local communities benefit from the services they provide. He noted gains that could be achieved in agriculture, but lamented that the price of fertilizer is linked to the rising cost of fuel. He encouraged supporting small-scale farmers as a means of ensuring food security.

Kevin Conrad, Coalition for Rainforest Nations, described efforts to include the issue of deforestation in climate change agreements, and emphasized that market forces are making it more attractive to turn forests into plantations, estimating that it would take US$20 billion a year to cut deforestation in half. He said that forests can be part of both climate change mitigation and development.

Graeme Wheeler, World Bank, discussed environmental health and child survival, pointing out that in many developing countries poor environment-related health outcomes cost between two to four percent of GDP. He added that when malnutrition is included the figure could rise to nine percent of GDP and has an impact on all the MDGs.

Margaret Batty, Water Aid, presented on Water and Sanitation, observing that inadequate sanitation is the biggest cause of child deaths under the age of five, and emphasized hand washing as a preventive measure. Batty said that poor sanitation and inadequate water undermine all development efforts and linked the achievement of the MDGs to realizing water and sanitation goals.

Paul Esptein, Harvard University Medical School, discussed climate change and health impacts, observing that diseases such as malaria are now moving to higher latitudes and altitudes, and the incidence of asthma is also increasing. For achieving the MDGs, he emphasized clean energy systems, noting their relevance for mitigation as well as adaptation.

Angelique Ngoma, Minister of Health, Gabon, gave an overview of the first inter-ministerial conference on Health and Environment, which took place in Libreville in August 2008 and the resulting Libreville Declaration on Health and Environment in Africa.


This event was presented by the Permanent Mission of Ethiopia to the UN and UNAIDS.

Andrew Jack, The Financial Times, opened the event, which focused on equity issues in health services. Michel Kazatchkine, the Global Fund (GF), explained the role of the GF as the major multilateral fund to fight malaria, tuberculosis, and AIDS. He remarked that the GF has committed US$11 billion toward these three diseases and strengthening national health systems. He stressed the importance of, inter alia: access to and quality of care; self-care financing, health protection and social insurance schemes; and the inclusion of end-users in the design and implementation of services. He also stressed the need to address equity concerns both within and between countries, including horizontal equity, such as providing “equal treatment to equals,” and vertical equity, to target the most marginalized groups.

Julian Lob-Levyt, the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, said his organization has successfully mobilized finance to change national priorities and increased fund availability for vaccination. He stressed the importance of service delivery platforms, highlighting that the success achieved in the education sector opens the possibility of school-based health programmes as a delivery mechanism for vaccines.

Tedros Adhanom, Minister of Health, Ethiopia, emphasized the importance of equity issues, including the geographical and temporal dimensions of access to health services and their affordability. He noted that access to health services is insufficient in Ethiopia, especially for women in pastoral areas. He explained that his government has redesigned the health system to overcome these constraints by 2010, including through the deployment of twenty thousand women healthcare workers, in partnership with UN agencies and local communities.

Ann Veneman, UNICEF, highlighted the continued decline in childhood mortality, but noted the need to focus on Africa and Asia, which together account for over 90% of childhood and maternal mortality. She called for a focus on sustainable, integrated basic health care systems at the community level, with attention to the roles of water, sanitation and nutrition.

Peter Piot, UNAIDS, credited progress toward equity in the AIDS movement to: countries’ acceptance of a rights-based approach; acceptance of HIV prevention as a global good; results-driven national and global targets; an inclusive global approach; and a strong sense of accountability supported by targets, agreements on measurement, and civil society participation. He urged strengthening of social systems, including efforts to prevent HIV and protect those orphaned by AIDS.

In the ensuing discussion, participants considered, inter alia: the roles of the scientific and business communities; issues of intellectual property; balancing resource allocation between “high-tech” products and basic health care; the impacts of education, water and sanitation and nutrition on health; the shift in aid for health care from acute to chronic systems; and alternative funding models for the development of new drugs.

The Africa and MDGs High Level UNGA Events Bulletin is a publication of the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) <>, publishers of the Earth Negotiations Bulletin © <>. This issue was written and edited by Asheline Appleton, Robynne Boyd, Claudio Chiarolla, Wagaki Mwangi, and Peter Wood. The Digital Editor is Dan Birchall. The Editor is Soledad Aguilar <>. The Director of IISD Reporting Services is Langston James “Kimo” Goree VI <>. Special funding for coverage of the High-level Meeting on Africa’s Development Needs and selected side events has been provided through IISD’s African Regional Coverage project by Germany’s Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) and Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Funding for our coverage of the Partnership events associated with the High-level Event on the Millennium Development Goals has been provided by UNDP’s Poverty Group. IISD can be contacted at 161 Portage Avenue East, 6th Floor, Winnipeg, Manitoba R3B 0Y4, Canada; tel: +1-204-958-7700; fax: +1-204-958-7710. The opinions expressed in the Bulletin are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of IISD. Excerpts from the Bulletin may be used in other publications with appropriate academic citation. Electronic versions of the Bulletin are sent to e-mail distribution lists (in HTML and PDF formats) and can be found on the Linkages WWW-server at <>. For information on the Bulletin, including requests to provide reporting services, contact the Director of IISD Reporting Services at <>, +1-646-536-7556 or 300 East 56th St., 11A, New York, NY 10022, USA. The IISD Team at the High-Level Meeting on Africa’s Development Needs, High-Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals, and other related events can be contacted by e-mail at <>.
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