Linkages home page
IDRC           UNDP           BMZ
UN Africa and MDGs High-Level Events Bulletin
Published by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
PDF format
Download PDF version
Volume 153 Number 5 - Sunday, 28 September 2008
22–25 SEPTEMBER 2008
Two High-Level meetings and over 50 partnership events took place on 22-25 September 2008, at UN Headquarters in New York, during the general debate of the sixty-third session of the UN General Assembly. A High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on Africa’s Development Needs took place on 22 September 2008, under the theme “Africa’s development needs: state of implementation of various commitments, challenges and the way forward.” On 25 September 2008, the UN Secretary-General and the President of the General Assembly convened a High-Level Event on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which evaluated progress towards achieving the goals at the halfway point towards the 2015 target. Parthership events were held from 22-25 September on issues related to Africa’s development and the MDGs with the participation of heads of state, directors of key inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, and various celebrities committed to development.

The High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on Africa’s Development Needs featured plenary sessions and roundtable discussions on development priorities for Africa and the implementation of existing commitments . Topics discussed by presidents and high-level representatives included: implementing internationally agreed development goals; addressing the impact of climate change and the high cost of food and energy; financing and debt relief; and peace and security. A UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution with a political declaration on Africa’s development needs was adopted during the closing plenary.

The High-Level Event on the MDGs brought together heads of state, ministers, business and foundation representatives, non-governmental organizations and civil society representatives to evaluate progress and challenges in meeting the MDGs. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the gathering exceeded his most optimistic expectations, noting that it generated an estimated US$16 billion in funding, including over US$4.4 billion for education and approximately $1.6 billion to enhance food security.

Among the initiatives launched at the event were: a global campaign to reduce malaria deaths to near zero by 2015, with initial commitments of over US$3 billion; and a task force on maternal mortality, to be co-chaired by British Prime Minister Gordon Brown and World Bank President Robert Zoellick, which will focus on innovative financing to strengthen health care systems and pay for health care workers. A consultation process will also be initiated to discuss the objectives and modalities of an MDG review summit in 2010.


At the Millennium Summit in September 2000, UN member states unanimously adopted the Millennium Declaration (A/RES/55/2).

At is fifty-sixth session in 2001, the UN Secretary-General presented his report entitled “Road map towards the implementation of the UN Millennium Declaration” (A/RES/56/326). An annex of the report contains eight development goals with 18 targets and 48 indicators, commonly known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The first seven goals are directed toward: eradicating poverty in all its forms: halving extreme poverty and hunger; achieving universal primary education and gender equity; reducing the mortality of children under five by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-quarters; reversing the spread of HIV and AIDS; halving the proportion of people without access to safe drinking water; and ensuring environmental sustainability. The final goal outlines measures for building a global partnership for development. The goals, targets and indicators were developed following consultations held among members of the UN Secretariat and representatives of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank in order to harmonize reporting on the development goals in the Millennium Declaration and the international development goals.

In resolution 56/95 on the “Follow-up to the Millennium Summit,” the General Assembly takes note of the Secretary-General’s report and recommends that the “road map” be considered as a useful guide in the implementation of the Millennium Declaration by the UN system, and invites member States, as well as the Bretton Woods Institutions, the World Trade Organization and other interested parties to consider the “road map” when formulating plans for implementing goals related to the Declaration.

The first comprehensive review of the MDGs, conducted in 2005 at a high-level plenary session of the General Assembly, reviewed progress and considered what further efforts were required to achieve the goals.

AFRICA’S DEVELOPMENT AGENDA AND THE UNGA: In adopting the UN Millennium Declaration, heads of state and government agreed to take special measures to address the challenges of poverty eradication and sustainable development in Africa. The 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development reaffirmed the need to increase international support for Africa’s efforts to achieve sustainable development, and devoted a specific chapter of actions dedicated towards this goal. In November 2002, the UN General Assembly adopted a declaration (A/RES/57/2) and a resolution (A/RES/57/7) on the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), affirming the UN system’s support for the implementation of NEPAD and recommending that the international community use NEPAD as its framework to support development in Africa. Since 2002, the General Assembly has adopted annual resolutions on the implementation of NEPAD, as well as on the Secretary-General’s report on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa.

In the World Summit 2005 Outcome Document (A/RES/60/1), world leaders underscored the need for the international community to meet the special needs of Africa and resolved to strengthen cooperation with NEPAD by providing coherent support for the programmes drawn up by African leaders within that framework, including by mobilizing internal and external financial resources and facilitating approval of such programmes by the multilateral financial institutions.

At its sixty-second session, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution on the report of the Secretary-General on the causes of conflict and the promotion of durable peace and sustainable development in Africa. In the resolution, the General Assembly calls upon the UN system to continue to mainstream the special needs of Africa in all its normative and operational activities. It further reaffirms its commitment to address the special needs of Africa, where some progress can be noted but where some countries lag behind in meeting the MDGs by 2015, in order to enable it to enter the mainstream of the world economy; and to strengthen cooperation with NEPAD by providing coherent support for the programmes drawn up by African leaders within that framework.


The following report summarizes the High-Level Meeting of the General Assembly on Africa’s Development Needs, the High-Level Event on the MDGs, and partnership events on the MDGs. Both High-Level events consisted of plenary sessions and roundtable discussions. A final section highlights the main commitments made throughout the week by various countries and organizations.


Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, President of the UNGA, opened the plenary of the 63rd session of the General Assembly on 22 September 2008. He noted that official development assistance (ODA) went from 0.33% of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2005 to 0.28% in 2007 and highlighted that levels of ODA should increase to meet the commitments undertaken in the Monterrey Consensus. He urged G8 members to double ODA for Africa by 2010 as promised at the G8 Summit at Gleneagles, Scotland in 2005.

Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, pointed out that no African country will achieve all of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, but that they remain achievable in Africa. He emphasized that the MDG Steering Group assessed that US$72 billion per year are necessary to achieve the goals by 2015. He stressed the urgency of taking action to strengthen commitments to change the course of history and bring development to Africa and the rest of the world.

Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania and African Union (AU) Chairperson, observed that resources provided by developed countries are not sufficient to lift Africa out of the poverty trap and called for a renewed effort to meet commitments. He noted that the G8 had only provided US$2.4 billion since 2004 and if current trends continue, it would not be possible to achieve the MDGs. He underscored that Africa is not “a hopeless case,” but needs the support of the international developed community.

Nicolas Sarkozy, President of France, emphasized the European Union’s commitment to Africa’s development, and reaffirmed its commitment to provide 0.7 % of gross national product (GNP) as ODA by 2015. Sarkozy explained that education and health remain at the center of the aid strategy and noted the need to transform family agriculture, increase yields and protect the environment in order to fight against poverty.

Heidemarie Wieczorek-Zeul, Minister for Development Cooperation of Germany, underscored Germany’s commitment to fulfill G8 pledges made at Gleneagles to double aid by 2010. She also supported the use of revenues from the auctioning of carbon credits for development and adaptation to climate change. Attributing the current crisis in the banking system to the lack of transparency in the financial markets, she called for a reliable regulatory framework for global financial markets and to strengthen efforts to build efficient and fair tax systems in developing countries.

Yoshiro Mori, Special Envoy of the Government of Japan, outlined the outcomes of the Fourth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), which pledged to double ODA and private investment to Africa by 2012. He outlined the TICAD Yokohama Declaration, which undertakes to: strengthen Africa’s economic growth; enhance institutional capacity, human resource development, agriculture, trade and investment, education, health, water and sanitation; support African peace-building efforts; and strengthen international community commitments to Africa. Mori emphasized Japan’s priorities for supporting the MDGs, including: health, water and sanitation, education and food security.

John Ashe, Antigua and Barbuda, Chairman of the G77 and China, noted that Africa has enhanced its accountability and governance and stressed that the focus of the meeting should be on: implementation of existing goals and commitments; more effective aid delivery mechanisms; and increased flexibility and predictability of assistance to facilitate long-term planning by African states.

José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission (EC), noted that the EU provides 16% of the aid that Africa receives. He argued that the three most important challenges for Africa are the cost of food, climate change, and energy security, and noted that the partnership between African countries and the EU will help tackle these challenges. Barroso recalled that the European Commission has proposed a new one billion Euro food facility to promote agricultural production by improving poor farmers’ access to inputs, such as fertilizers and seeds.

Jean Ping, Chairperson of the AU Commission, stressed that the time has come for implementation, including the need for a firm schedule, funding commitments and a tangible strategy. He highlighted that NEPAD gives Africa a strong ownership of development processes and emphasized the importance of mobilizing resources and coordinating actions by UN agencies in Africa.

ROUNDTABLES ON AFRICA’S DEVELOPMENT NEEDS: Heads of state and government, ministers, international organizations, NGOs and private corporations participated in roundtable discussions which focused on critical issues to be included in the General Assembly’s political declaration. Key issues addressed include: advancing progress on the Aid for Trade Initiative, including technical assistance; implementing internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs and NEPAD; human resource capacity development; and addressing the impact of climate change and the high cost of food and energy. On the global partnership with Africa, delegates expressed their determination to meet existing commitments, renew political will and strengthen the partnership with Africa at the highest level to ensure that its development needs are mainstreamed in the global economy.

Delegates further stressed the importance of South-South and triangular cooperation, cooperation with development partners, and enhancing the role of the private sector in Africa’s economic regeneration. On financing, delegates called for: the mobilization of new and additional resources, particularly for the agricultural sector; comprehensive debt relief; market access; and fulfilling ODA commitments made at the G8 Gleneagles Summit. Several speakers expressed concern regarding the collapse of the World Trade Organization (WTO) Ministerial Conference in July 2008, particularly in relation to non-agricultural market access. One country called for a new global partnership for Africa and Food Security, in the context of the implementation of the AU/NEPAD Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Programme. Many delegations highlighted country-measures taken and the challenges faced in implementing the MDGs, particularly with regard to resources.

Many developing country delegations acknowledged progress on debt relief. However, they stressed that: these measures are not a substitute for increasing ODA; conditionalities are often imposed; resources are not always fairly allocated; infrastructure development should not be neglected while attending to social concerns; where private sector capacity is lacking, governments should take the lead in implementing development programmes; and that the conclusion of the Doha Round of the WTO is critical. Several delegates stressed the importance of regional and subregional integration. Others noted that while African economies are growing, increasing levels of poverty and inequality overshadow this.

On peace and security, delegates underscored the importance of working together to overcome constraints and secure lasting development. They stressed that development is not possible without peace and highlighted the need to reduce threats to Africa’s development by ending endemic conflicts, respecting human rights, eliminating social inequalities, consolidating the rule of law, ensuring political reforms, and improving governance.

CLOSING PLENARY: General Assembly President d’Escoto, presented a draft resolution entitled “Political Declaration on Africa’s Development Needs” (A/63/L.1), which was then adopted by the General Assembly. The Political Declaration calls for, inter alia:

  • strengthening a global partnership to mobilize the resources required to end poverty, hunger and underdevelopment in Africa;
  • strengthening support for the implementation of NEPAD;
  • fulfilling all ODA-related commitments by developed countries to achieve the target of 0.7% of gross national income (GNI) for ODA by 2015;
  • promoting South-South cooperation and triangular cooperation;
  • promoting Africa’s international trade;
  • achieving further progress towards the goal of a conflict-free Africa;
  • addressing adaptation needs relating to the effects of climate change, including through new and additional financial resources;
  • responding to the food crisis in an integrated manner, to support sustainable agriculture and rural development approaches, as set out in NEPAD’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme;
  • increasing investment in all forms of infrastructure, in particular renewable and clean energy infrastructure;
  • promoting gender equality;
  • increasing efforts to reduce maternal and child mortality;
  • safeguarding the principle of refugee protection;
  • achieving the goal of universal access to comprehensive HIV and AIDS prevention programmes, treatment, care and support by 2010;
  • providing quality basic education and promoting literacy;
  • effectively implementing all commitments to and by Africa.

The Political Declaration also requests the UN Secretary-General to submit to the General Assembly at its sixty-fourth session a comprehensive report, with recommendations, on “Africa’s development needs: state of implementation of various commitments, challenges and the way forward” with a view to the formulation of a mechanism to review the implementation of all commitments related to Africa’s development.

Expressing his view that this was a great day for Africa, President Kikwete of Tanzania, welcomed the strong commitment to Africa’s future, and the renewal of the international community’s partnership for Africa’s development. He highlighted the numerous side events held, dealing with women, development, the food crisis, energy and the challenge of governance, and said that participants can now testify their presence when history was made, “when the world awoke to its moral responsibility for Africa’s development.”

In his closing remarks, UNGA President d’Escoto said the hard part was keeping and not breaking promises, and called on the Assembly not to repeat history, but rather rise to the occasion and “make poverty history instead.” He said the Political Declaration contains an urgent agenda for action, noting that the eradication of poverty in Africa is the greatest global challenge facing the world today. He further stressed that a strong Africa requires a stronger UN. Noting that the High-Level Event is the first in a series of three intergovernmental meetings this year, he said it would be followed by the High-Level Meeting on the MDGs, which will discuss poverty eradication, and the Second Review Conference on Financing for Development in November 2008, which will discuss how to secure the financial resources and political resolve to fulfill the international community’s commitments. He also emphasized it is essential for the General Assembly to ensure that these commitments are turned into actions, noting that the Political Declaration sets the basis for such a mechanism. President d’Escoto further paid tribute to Thabo Mbeki for championing NEPAD, quoting its vision that the African “agenda must give hope to the emaciated African child that the 21st century is indeed Africa’s century.” The Assembly concluded its deliberations at 6:41pm.


On 25 September 2008, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and General Assembly President d’Escoto convened the High-Level Event on the MDGs, to evaluate progress made towards achieving the MDGs at the halfway point towards the 2015 target.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened the plenary session and presented a film on the MDGs titled “Make it happen.” He stressed that while the world is moving in the right direction it is not moving fast enough and urged all stakeholders to send a clear signal of readiness to reach agreement on a way forward at the Doha Review Conference on Financing for Development.

General Assembly President d’Escoto said the eradication of hunger is a political imperative, which requires debt alleviation, trade, and investment; noting that progress in meeting the MDGs is limited, and that few countries have met their aid commitments.

President Kikwete of Tanzania presented a report on the outcome of the High-Level Meeting on Africa’s Development Needs and the adoption of the Political Declaration.

European Commission President Barroso stressed that delivering effective aid is a prerequisite to achieving the MDGs, reaffirming EU member states’ commitments to increase development assistance to 0.7% of their GNP by 2015.

Gordon Brown, Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, stated that financial turbulence cannot put the MDGs on hold, but on the contrary makes meeting them all the more urgent. He urged: recruiting one million additional health workers; ending malaria-related deaths by 2015; enrolling 24 million more children in school by 2010; and investing US$10 billion in African agriculture.

Wen Jiabao, Prime Minister of China, underlined the importance of stepping up assistance to least developed countries (LDCs), and of coordinating the efforts of different international organizations. He outlined China’s commitments to: contribute US$30 million to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to establish a trust fund to increase agricultural productivity in developing countries; provide ten thousand scholarships to developing country students to study in China; and build one hundred small-scale clean energy projects in developing countries.

Hamad bin Jassim Bin Jabr Al-Thani, Prime Minister of Qatar, pointed to the importance of new partnerships and innovative and practical mechanisms for financing. He reaffirmed his commitment to contribute 0.7% of GNI to developing countries, and 0.15% to 0.2% to LDCs.

Baldwin Spencer, Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda, on behalf of the G77 and China, highlighted shortcomings related to the implementation of the MDGs. He proposed a high-level review of MDG 8 (Global Partnership for Development) and the establishment of benchmarks and targets to monitor its implementation, consistent with other MDGs.

Bill Gates, founder and co-chair of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, called for taking an inter-sectoral approach to achieving the MDGs. He said the opportunities for innovation are incredible and the MDGs will attract investment where the development benefits are largest.

Elaben Bhatt, Founder of the Self-Employed Women Association, said the desire to cut poverty by 2015 has had marginal success because the poor are not a priority, emphasizing that poverty is defined by a lack of power, and that poverty eradication is an intensely political issue.

ROUNDTABLE ON POVERTY AND HUNGER: This roundtable, attended by heads of state and government, was co-chaired by José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Prime Minister of Spain, Bingu Wa Mutharika, President of Malawi, and Yayi Boni, President of Benin.

Nancy Birdsall, Center for Global Development, stressed the need to restate MDG commitments in concrete terms and emphasized technology transfer and the development of agricultural and clean technologies. She noted that the UN annually assesses reports by developing countries on the first seven MDGs, but has not assessed progress by developed countries on their commitments and on MDG 8 (Global Partnership for Development) in particular.

Papa Abdoulaye Seck, Director-General of the Africa Rice Center, Senegal, argued that a positive metamorphosis of African agriculture depends on well-adapted technologies, adequate infrastructure, and appropriate governance. He stressed that the agricultural sector should receive appropriate financial support and investments for research activities.

Delegates also highlighted the need to mobilize international cooperation and development assistance, promote gender equity, and promote a global partnership for the MDGs. They assessed progress made and challenges ahead in achieving hunger and poverty eradication; noted the need for a green revolution in Africa and the importance of trade in economic growth, including rural development; emphasized South-South cooperation; and stressed that the lack of political will and solidarity is impairing the MDGs.

ROUNDTABLE ON HEALTH AND EDUCATION: This roundtable was co-chaired in the morning by Danilo Türk, President of Slovenia and Sheikh Naser Al-Mohammad Al-Ahmaad Al-Sabah, Prime Minister of Kuwait, and in the afternoon by Jens Stoltenburg, Prime Minister of Norway and Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile. Willem-Alexander, Prince of Orange, the Netherlands, and Chair of the UN Secretary-General’s Advisory Board on Water and Sanitation, said the goals relating to health and education could not be reached without improved water, sanitation and hygiene.

Referring to smallpox, measles and malaria, Jeffrey Sachs, Special Advisor to the UN Secretary-General on the MDGs, said that highly effective immunization is required first, followed by a plan of action for scaling up effective technology, financing and proper management, within national programmes and internationally.

Delegates reported on progress toward: the achievement of the health and education MDGs; prioritizing basic education and healthcare; reducing maternal and infant mortality; improving maternal health care; and improving school enrollment. Many drew attention to the inadequacy of international financial support, with the general consensus being that increased funding and the political will of donor countries to honor their pledges to contribute at least 0.7% of GNP for development aid is required.

Several developed country speakers highlighted initiatives within developing countries on health and education. Douglas Alexander, Secretary of State for International Development of the United Kingdom, recalled his earlier announcement of a new high-level task force on innovative financing for health and noted that the International Finance Facility for Immunization aims to immunize up to half a billion people in the next ten years. He also discussed the International Health Partnership, launched by the UK in 2007, which will spend 450 million pounds in the next three years in six African countries, Cambodia and Nepal.

Anibal Cavaco Silva, President of Portugal, said the EU-African Joint Strategy, launched in 2007, identified education and health as priority areas for action between Portugal and its partners in Portuguese-speaking African countries, as well as in East Timor. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia, highlighted that Australia’s development assistance will significantly increase in the next four years to strengthen national health-care systems in the developing world, particularly in Africa. Bono, rock musician and renowned campaigner for Africa, noted new actors entering the development arena, such as the Gulf States of Bahrain and Qatar.

ROUNDTABLE ON THE ENVIRONMENT: In the morning, this roundtable was co-chaired by Han Seung-Soo, Prime Minister of the Republic of Korea, and David Thompson, Prime Minister of Barbados. In the afternoon, it was co-chaired by Emomali Rakhmonov, President of Tajikistan, and Tarja Halonen, President of Finland. In the discussion, several delegates emphasized that MDG 7 (Ensure Environmental Sustainability) is a precondition to attaining all of the other MDGs. Delegates presented their national level commitments and projects to address the environment and poverty challenge, highlighting programmes that deliver both environmental protection and eradicate poverty. They discussed the need to address energy, poverty, climate change, biodiversity protection, desertification, forest degradation, and dwindling freshwater supplies as the key global challenges facing the environment. Delegates further stressed the need for the rapid integration of sustainable development into national poverty eradication and development strategies as an important step forward in meeting the MDGs. Throughout the discussion, many speakers described the specific and alarming ways in which climate change is already impacting their countries.

On energy and climate change, delegates stressed the importance of affordable access to clean modern energy services, noting that sustainable energy systems are a prerequisite for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and meeting the MDGs. Some called for a technological revolution, and others emphasized the importance of renewable energy resources and energy efficiency technologies. Some speakers called for a third industrial revolution to transform old fossil-fuel-based economies into low-carbon societies marked by high energy efficiency. Others highlighted the need to reform the global intellectual property rights regime to enable greater access to clean and sustainable technologies for developing countries.

Delegates also stressed that poverty reduction and climate change mitigation are interlinked phenomena that had to be addressed in tandem. Noting the impact of climate change on global instability, delegates called for urgent action at the upcoming climate meeting in Poznan and for the completion of negotiations on a post-2012 climate regime by 2009. Developing countries underscored the importance of increasing financial flows for adaption, creating incentives for reducing emissions from deforestation and forest degradation, and addressing climate finance as part of the Financing for Development review process. Speakers from Small Island Developing States stressed that rising sea levels and other climate-induced catastrophes pose a direct challenge to human security for millions of people around the world, and called for a comprehensive rights-based approach to sustainable and just development.

CLOSING PLENARY: UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the events held during the High-Level Meeting on MDGs reflected a new model of partnership and announced that new commitments made during the meeting totaled over US$16 billion. These include:

  • US$1.6 billion for food security;
  • US$3.1 billion for the eradication of malaria;
  • US$500 million for the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria;
  • US$2 billion for reducing child mortality and improving maternal health by 2009, and up to US$7 billion by 2015;
  • US$12 billion to provide training for birth attendants;
  • US$800 million to support national health plans in poor countries and US$90 million to tackle neglected tropical diseases; and
  • US$4.5 billion for the goal on education.

He said an additional US$30 billion will be mobilized by 2015 for the campaign on health, and invited contributions for the up to US$2.2 billion required to provide clean water and sanitation to 30 million people. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also welcomed: the EU’s commitment to realize the ODA target of 0.7% of GNP; and the attention given to climate change, including the member states’ pledge of US$50 billion to address the problem. He stressed the need to develop a framework to monitor and evaluate progress, and welcomed the member states’ interest in holding a review summit in 2010.

UN General Assembly President d’Escoto said the only way to alleviate poverty is to create just and sound economic systems and shift from a “thing-orientated society to a person-orientated society.” He committed to work with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in preparing for the 2010 review session. Observing that the MDGs on health are lagging in implementation, he committed to convene, with assistance from the Secretary-General, an informal thematic debate on “Strengthening Global Health: the Health MDGs and Beyond,” in late 2008 or early 2009, which will be advanced through a high-level debate to be held by June 2009. President d’Escoto said he would work closely with the ECOSOC President to ensure that the 2009 Annual Ministerial Review leads to meaningful outcomes. He adjourned the session at 6:12pm.


Over 50 partnership events were presented by a wide variety of governmental and non-governmental organizations in conjunction with the Africa and MDG High-Level Events. The events were held throughout the week at UN Headquarters and nearby venues, and included heads of state, directors of key inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations, and various celebrities committed to development. The goal of these events was to facilitate multi-stakeholder discussions, information sharing, and partnership building. Highlights included: major announcements on health, education and environmental initiatives related to meeting the MDGs; focused discussions on how to address the energy and food crises in Africa, and how these intersect with environmental issues such as climate change; and case studies demonstrating how to translate global commitments into local action.

Summaries of events held on 22–24 September can be viewed at: In addition, several of the events held on 25 September are summarized below.

IN MY NAME: This event was presented by Oxfam and the Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP) and moderated by Kumi Naidoo, GCAP who explained that “In My Name” is a global campaign to challenge world leaders to meet their MDG commitments. He drew attention to the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, taking place on 17 October 2008, and invited participants to sign their names on a large board in support of the campaign, which included signatures by celebrities like Kristin Davies and Elle Macpherson; MDG campaigners like Jeffrey Sachs and Elaben Bhat, as well as many other anti-poverty activists.

Mary Robinson, former Prime Minister of Ireland and UN Commissioner for Human Rights, lamented that the world’s politicians can always find billions for arms and financial bailouts but not for poverty reduction, noting that less than a quarter of aid promised has materialized. She added that “people power” can turn globalization into a positive force.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, expressed his support for the In My Name initiative, and signed the wall, as a “citizen of the world” who wishes to end dehumanizing poverty. Rahul Bose, renowned Indian actor and social activist, depicted poverty as an “insane and cruel” condition, and urged delegates to use the momentum generated during the week to implement the commitments made. Rania Al Abdullah, Queen of Jordan, called for donors to redeem themselves by honoring their aid commitments, noting that “half a promise, like half a boat, does not float.”

The event concluded with a performance by hip hop stars “” and “” of the Black Eyed Peas, and singer Angelique Kidjo, of their new song in support of the campaign, which calls for people to “pick world leaders that will lead the world honest.”

EDUCATION FOR ALL: CLASS OF 2015: The event was moderated by Kailash Satyarthi, Global Campaign for Education, and launched the “Class of 2015,” a new effort to build political will to achieve the MDG 2 goal of universal access to education by 2015.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown noted the importance of businesses, NGOs, faith-based organizations, sporting groups and others in achieving education for all. He stressed that education is a right, cautioned that in the absence of free, quality education students may be lured into schools teaching extremist ideologies, and announced an additional contribution of 50 million pounds to the Education for All Fast Track Initiative.

Australia’s Prime Minister Kevin Rudd detailed commitments of US$500 million over three years for education, and described efforts to rebuild schools in Indonesia following the 2004 tsunami, while EC President Barroso highlighted many EC education efforts, stressing the need to avoid donor fatigue by emphasizing successes.

Queen Rania Al Abdullah of Jordan underscored the benefits of educating women, noted important barriers to universal education, and called for urgent action. Robert Zoellick, World Bank President, explained that although the number of children in schools is important, the quality of their education is equally crucial. He described the World Bank’s commitment to provide, through the International Development Association, US$1.5 billion per year in 2008 and 2009 to work with countries to improve education.

Prince Saud al Faisal, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia, described his country’s US$1 billion commitment to combat illiteracy, and Rama Yade, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Human Rights of France, announced that France will increase its contribution to the Education for All Fast Track Initiative to 50 million Euros from 2008 to 2011.

Representatives from corporations, faith groups, and education advocates offered their commitments to continue their work to achieve universal education by 2015. The International Football Federation (FIFA) announced its “football for hope” movement, aimed at increasing awareness of African education needs in the lead up to the 2010 World Cup. The event closed with participants noting that US$4.5 billion had been pledged over the next three years.

MDG 3: GENDER EQUALITY AND EMPOWERMENT OF WOMEN: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, and Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Prime Minister of Denmark, co-hosted this event, moderated by Carsten Staur, Denmark. In her welcoming remarks, President Sirleaf of Liberia thanked Denmark and the company Nike for choosing Liberia as their pilot country to ensure MDG 3 (Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women) is realized, adding that this will support the training of women to senior executive positions in the private sector. She elaborated on Liberia’s campaigns against gender-based violence, and announced plans to co-host, with President Tarja Halonen of Finland, a colloquium on women’s empowerment.

Prime Minister Rasmussen of Denmark announced that between 2008 and 2010 Denmark will double its current assistance towards women’s empowerment, and presented UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon with the 100th torch of Denmark’s Global Call to Action initiative. Receiving the torch, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed his commitment to strengthening the UN’s ability to respond to the needs of the world in meeting MDG 3, and renewed his personal pledge to lead a worldwide campaign to stop violence against women.

Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, announced the company’s launch in 2008 of the “10,000 Women” initiative to provide business and management training to women entrepreneurs at a cost of US$100 million over five years.

Bibiana Aído, Spanish Minister of Equality, committed to contribute 50 million Euros towards the soon-to-be-established multilateral fund on quality and aid effectiveness by the United Nations Women’s Fund.

COMMITMENT TO PROGRESS FOR MOTHERS, NEWBORNS AND CHILDREN: The event was moderated by Geeta Rao Gupta, International Center for Research on Women, and co-hosted by Presidents Michelle Bachelet of Chile, Tarja Halonen of Finland, and Jakaya Kikwete of Tanzania. Following opening addresses by the hosts, participants shared their commitments to progress on MDGs 4 (Reduce Child Mortality) and 5 (Improve Maternal Health).

President Bachelet of Chile noted organizational and financial progress, including G8 attention to the issue, but stressed that maternal mortality is the MDG on which least progress has been made. She described the “Deliver now for women and children” regional campaign to articulate cooperation for achieving MDGs 4 and 5 in Latin America and the Caribbean.

President Halonen of Finland stressed that action must be taken beyond the health sector. She described Finland’s health support partnership with Mozambique, and the Finnish “maternity kit,” a collection of goods or money offered to expectant mothers as encouragement for their participation in pre-natal health care.

President Kikwete of Tanzania discussed the problems raised by lack of proper facilities and trained health workers in Tanzania. He stressed that the key to achieving success was mobilizing both political will and additional resources.

Sarah Brown, White Ribbon Alliance, stressed that saving mothers helps children and Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO), described a joint statement of commitment by WHO, the United Nations Population Fund, UNICEF, and the World Bank to work together on MDGs 4 and 5.

Civil society, foundations, private companies, national governments and international organizations all shared their commitments to the issue. Jens Stoltenberg, Prime Minister of Norway, closed the event, calling for more financial resources, better use of existing resources, and increased awareness of maternal and child health around the world.

2008 MDG MALARIA SUMMIT: This event was presented by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and partners, and was moderated by Peter Chernin, News Corporation, and Raymond Chambers, UN Special Envoy for Malaria. It included presentations by advocates for eliminating malaria, and financial commitments from countries and organizations totaling US$3.1 billion.

Rock musician and MDG campaigner Bono said that Bill Gates is “the real rock star,” and that successes achieved in the fight against malaria showcases the possibilities for the other MDGs. Awa Coll-Seck, Roll Back Malaria Partnership, pointed out success stories in Tanzania, and described the Global Malaria Action Plan as “a bridge between commitment and delivery.” Bill Gates, highlighted successes achieved in Zambia, where malaria has been reduced by 50% in the last two years. He noted malaria’s ability to develop resistance, requiring an adaptive and aggressive eradication strategy, and pledged US$168.7 million to the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative.

WHO Director-General Margaret Chan, said that the 2008 Malaria Report identifies obstacles to the elimination of malaria, including fragmentation of efforts and weak institutions. Ann Veneman, UNICEF Executive-Director, noted that 9.2 million children die each year of preventable diseases, 50% in Africa, and 20% due to malaria. Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, highlighted that the distribution of bed nets must be accompanied by educational programmes. Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania, said that in order to consolidate gains, the disease needs to be suppressed quickly if it re-emerges.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick said that malaria is both a symptom and a cause of poverty, with great economic impacts. He pledged US$1.1 billion for malaria programmes in Africa. Rajat Gupta, Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, announced US$1.62 billion in new funding, and encouraged the exchange of best practices.

UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown celebrated that more has been achieved on the fight against malaria in the past year than in the previous century, and remarked on the diversity of actors committed to the campaign. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the malaria campaign can serve as a model for meeting other MDGs, and that deaths due to malaria can be eliminated by 2015.

Gary Knell, Sesame Workshop, introduced “Kemi,” a new Muppet which is part of a campaign to encourage African children to use bed nets. Kevin Rudd, Prime Minister of Australia, said that the islands of the South Pacific, most notably Papua New Guinea, are his top priority for combating malaria.


The high-level event on the MDGs and associated partnership events generated many commitments for action, including financial commitments amounting to US$16 billion. A selection of these commitments is summarized below.

MDG 1: POVERTY REDUCTION: A total of US$1.6 billion was pledged to bolster food security.

  • The EU reaffirmed its commitments to devote 0.7 percent of GNI to ODA by 2015, and proposed to establish a US$1 billion food facility to promote agricultural production.

MDG 2: ACHIEVE UNIVERSAL PRIMARY EDUCATION: The ‘Class of 2015’ partnership between governments, faith groups, NGOs, sports and private sector organizations made pledges totaling US$4.5 billion to ensure universal primary education by the year 2015. The contributions include:

  • US$3 billion for 2008 and 2009 from the World Bank’s International Development Association;
  • US$500 million from Saudi Arabia;
  • US$450 million from Australia;
  • US$205 million from the governments of Norway;
  • 50 million pounds from the UK Government;
  • 10 million pounds from Comic Relief UK;
  • 50 million Euros from France;
  • FIFA pledged to mobilize support from an estimated 30 million fans watching World Cup 2010.


  • The Government of Denmark pledged to contribute an additional 200 million Danish Kroner to support its Global Call to Action campaign for the years 2009 and 2010.


  • Tanzania has in place a National Road Map Strategic Plan and has made health care for pregnant women free and plans to build dispensaries in rural areas within the next ten years so that a dispensary exists within a 5 kilometer radius of each village.
  • An estimated 450 million pounds from the United Kingdom over the next three years to support national health plans in Ethiopia, Mozambique, Kenya, Zambia, Burundi, Nigeria, Cambodia and Nepal.
  • US$1 billion from Norway over ten years to reduce child and maternal mortality, in addition to a pledge of US$1 billion between 2000 and 2015 for vaccinating children in poor countries.
  • The United States established a goal to support training of 140,000 new health workers over the next five years.
  • US$200 million from the World Bank over the next three years to help Ethiopia achieve better health results for its mothers and children.
  • The UN Population Fund is partnering with the WHO, UNICEF and the World Bank to provide support to the sixty countries that rank the highest on indicators of maternal mortality. It hopes to raise US$500 million through the Maternal Health Thematic Fund.


  • US$1.1 billion from the World Bank to fight malaria in Africa.
  • US$1.62 billion from the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria targeted at malaria.
  • US$168 million from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to the PATH Malaria Vaccine Initiative.
  • US$200 million from the Member States of the Organization of Islamic Conferences to fight malaria.
  • US$14 billion over the next five years from the United States to fight against HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.


  • China committed to constructing 100 sustainable energy projects in developing countries.

For a summary of all commitments made during the High-Level Event, see:


CAPACITY-BUILDING WORKSHOP FOR WESTERN AFRICA, COMOROS AND DJIBOUTI ON NBSAPS AND MAINSTREAMING OF BIODIVERSITY: The Workshop on National Biodiversity Strategies and Action Plans (NBSAPS) and mainstreaming biodiversity will take place from 29 September to 3 October 2008 in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. The meeting will address, inter alia, the status of development and implementation of NBSAPS and integrating biodiversity into sectoral and cross-sectoral policies, including strategies of poverty reduction and the achievement of the MDGs. For more information, contact: CBD Secretariat; tel: +1-514-288-2220; fax: +1-514-288-6588; e-mail:; internet:

UN GENERAL ASSEMBLY PANEL DISCUSSION ON CHALLENGES AND EMERGING ISSUES IN EXTERNAL DEBT RESTRUCTURING: This panel will take place on 10 October 2008 at UN headquarters in New York, and will assess the positive contribution of present approaches to official and commercial debt restructuring, identify gaps and suggest possible ways to move forward. For more information, contact: Finance for Development Office; tel: +1-212-963-2587; fax: +1-212-963-0443; email:; internet:

AFRICA UNION LAND POLICY EXPERT AND MINISTERIAL MEETING: The meeting will take place from 10-12 October 2008 in Abuja, Nigeria, to advance ongoing deliberations on the continent-wide land policy initiative. Using inputs from the regional consultative workshops, the African Task Force on Land Policy will enrich the draft Land Policy Framework and Guidelines in preparation for a continental meeting of African experts and ministers responsible for land. For more information, contact: Dr. Emmanuel Tambi, AU Rural Economy Division; tel: +251-11-551-7700 ext 115; e-mail:; internet:

THIRD GLOBAL CONGRESS OF WOMEN IN POLITICS AND GOVERNANCE: This event will take place from 19-22 October 2008 in Manila, the Philippines.The theme of the Congress is “Gender in Climate Change and Disaster Risk Reduction.” It will focus on how to strengthen women’s involvement in areas of environmental management and governance. For more information, contact CAPWIP: tel: +632-85-16934; fax:+ 632-85-22112; e-mail:; internet:

AFRICA UNION PASTORAL POLICY REGIONAL CONSULTATIONS FOR NORTH AFRICA: This African Union meeting in response to the erosion of pastoral communities’ livelihoods across Africa will take place from 25-26 October 2008 in Algiers, Algeria. It is expected to result in a continent-wide Pastoral Policy document to be adopted by African Union member states at a Summit in 2009. For more information, contact: AU Department for Rural Economy and Agriculture; tel: +251-11-551-7700 ext. 115; fax: +251-11-551-6062; e-mail:; internet:

FIRST CONFERENCE OF THE AFRICAN UNION MINISTERS IN CHARGE OF SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT: This meeting will take place from 27-31 October 2008 in Windhoek, Namibia. Convened under the theme “Towards a Sustainable Social Development Agenda for Africa,” the conference aims to: identify and promote measures to accelerate the attainment of longer, healthier and better lives for Africans; strengthen national systems to provide basic services; and promote the rights of all the sectors of society. For more information, contact: S. Rahim, AU Social Welfare Division; tel: +251 11 551 7700 ext 247; fax: +251 11 553 3616/551 7844; e-mail: or; internet:

THE SEVENTH GLOBAL CONFERENCE ON HUMAN DEVELOPMENT: This meeting under the theme “Unlocking the potential to create a new world together”, organized by the Institute of Cultural Affairs International, UNDP and other partners, will be held from 10-14 November 2008 in Takayama, Japan. It will consider why efforts to address development challenges have failed. For more information, contact: the Institute of Cultural Affairs; tel: +1-514-875-7111; fax: +1-514-287-9687; e-mail:; internet:

FOLLOW-UP INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON FINANCING FOR DEVELOPMENT: This meeting will review the implementation of the Monterrey Consensus, and is scheduled for 29 November - 2 December 2008, in Doha, Qatar. The review conference will address progress made, reaffirm goals and commitments, and share best practices and lessons learned, as well as identify obstacles and constraints and important measures for further implementation of the finance for development agenda. For more information, contact: Finance for Development Office; tel: +1-212-963-2587; fax: +1-212-963-0443; email:; internet:

FAO HIGH-LEVEL CONFERENCE ON WATER FOR AGRICULTURE AND ENERGY IN AFRICA: This meeting will take place from 15-17 December 2008 in Sirte, Libya, under the theme “The Challenges of Climate Change,” and consider topics that include: assessing the challenges faced by the agricultural sector in view of the impending/glooming food crisis in Africa; and taking into account the strong linkages with energy and climate change. For more information, contact: FAO Water; e-mail:; internet:

STRENGTHENING GLOBAL HEALTH: THE HEALTH MDGs AND BEYOND: This informal thematic debate is tentatively scheduled to take place in late 2008 or early 2009, convened by the President of the 63rd UN General Assembly. It aims to advance progress in the global health arena and to feed into the 2009 ECOSOC High-Level Annual Review Meeting. For more information, contact: UN Department of Public Information; e-mail:; internet:

CSD-17: This meeting will convene from 4-15 May 2009, at UN headquarters in New York, to develop policy recommendations for the thematic cluster of agriculture, rural development, land, drought, desertification and Africa. For more information, contact: DESA Secretariat; tel: +1-212-963-8102; fax: +1-212-963-4260; e-mail:; internet:

INTERNATIONAL COLLOQUIUM ON WOMEN’S EMPOWERMENT, LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT, INTERNATIONAL PEACE AND SECURITY: The first colloquium on women’s empowerment to be co-hosted by Liberia’s President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Finland’s President Tarja Halonen will take place from 7-8 March 2009 in Monrovia, Liberia. One of the Colloquium’s goals is to achieve MDG 3 on Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women. For more information, contact: Femmes Africa Solidarite; tel: +44-22-328 8050; fax: +41-22-328 8052; e-mail: or; internet:

2009 ECOSOC ANNUAL MINISTERIAL REVIEW: The Annual Ministerial Review of ECOSOC will be held in July 2009 at the Palais de Nations, Geneva, Switzerland, under the theme “Implementing the internationally agreed goals and commitments in regard to global public health.” For more information, contact: Department for General Assembly Affairs and Conference Management; tel: +1-212-963-4640; fax: +1-212-9635935; e-mail:; internet:

2010 MDG SUMMIT: This meeting is scheduled to take place in 2010 to review the progress made in implementing the MDGs and to galvanize needed efforts and actions in the final five years before the 2015 deadline. For more information, contact: UN Department of Public Information; e-mail:; internet:

African Union
International Football Federation
Global Call to Action Against Poverty
Gross Domestic Product
Gross National Income
Gross National Product
Millennium Development Goals
The New Partnership for Africa�s Development
Official Development Assistance
The Forth Tokyo International Conference on African Development
United Nations Population Fund
UN General Assembly


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, Douglas Bushey, 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.
| Back to IISD RS “Linkages” home | Visit IISDnet | Send e-mail to IISD RS |
© 2008, IISD. All rights reserved.