“Action now will save lives, build a solid foundation for sustainable development far beyond 2015 and help lay the groundwork for lasting peace and human dignity,” the Secretary-General said at a special event at the UN Headquarters in New York.
He was joined by more than 500 young people, including Ms. Yousafzai, who became an education advocate after being attacked by the Taliban on a school bus.
“The ideas and inspiration of young people have been especially critical in this effort and their role must grow even more,” Mr. Ban said, underscoring the progress made in development and the importance of youth involvement in national plans to accomplish even more.
The eight MDGs, agreed by world leaders at UN summit in 2000, are described as a 15-year roadmap to fight poverty, hunger and disease, protect the environment and expand education, basic health and women’s empowerment.
“Against the predictions of cynics, the MDGs have helped unite, inspire and transform,” Mr. Ban noted. He highlighted that poverty has been cut in half, more girls attend school, and fewer people are dying from malaria, tuberculosis and other deadly diseases.
Inequality remains a challenge, however, as does childbirth, maternal mortality, universal education, and environmental sustainability, according to a report Mr. Ban presented to Member States in July.
“Now is the time for MDG Momentum,” the UN chief stressed, noting that the international community now has many more tools at its disposal than when the targets were created, ranging from the expanding reach of technology to the growing understanding of what works and what does not.
“The MDGs are the most successful global anti-poverty push in history, opening the doors of opportunity to millions of people around the world. Over the next 500 days, our mission is clear: Keep the MDG momentum going so we pave the path for an end to extreme poverty. While we’ve come far, we have farther to go. We have an opportunity in the next 500 days to accelerate action on issues such as poverty, health, access to education, hunger, water and sanitation, and gender equality. We also have the chance to lay a strong foundation for the development agenda that will follow the MDGs.
“As MDG Advocates, our aim is to foster support for and commitment to these important goals among governments, civil society, and the private sector. We look forward to publishing our MDG Advocates report next month at the UN General Assembly, which will include the viewpoints of leaders from around the globe to help focus our efforts as we move toward the MDG target date. We will need the partnership of leaders from all sectors of society if we hope to continue to make the kinds of gains that we have seen in recent years.
“While our commitment to addressing the world’s most pressing challenges will continue far beyond the next 500 days, we must use this moment to encourage the world to accelerate progress and work with unfailing determination to reach these important targets. Please join us by taking part in the worldwide movement for #MDGMomentum and learn more by visiting www.mdg500.org.”