Informal Development Ministers meeting: Focus on the achievement of UN Millenium Development Goals

The European Union website reports that one of the main objectives of this meeting, held in La Granja (Spain) on 17-18 February, and chaired by the Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation, Soraya Rodríguez, was the preparation for the review of the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG), which will be assessed at the UN MDG Review High Level Event in September 2010.

In 2000, the UN set the challenge of achieving a series of goals before 2015, including wiping out hunger and extreme poverty, advancing toward universal education and gender equality, and reducing infant mortality.

The EU remains firmly committed to poverty eradication and the MDGs. But the situation is worrying. Many countries are still far from reaching the agreed MDG targets by 2015. Developing countries are particularly lagging in improvement of the situations on child mortality, maternal mortality and sanitation. Africa in particular is lagging behind on almost all indicators (the UN MDG Report, 2009).

The EU is proactive in collective efforts to reduce poverty and for the achievement of the MDGs. In June 2008, we adopted an EU Agenda for Action on the MDGs. This is an EU offer to partners in development and the international community to accelerate progress towards the MDGs. It builds on and is consistent with the work of the UNSG Africa MDGs Steering Group in 2008.

In the face of growing challenges to developing countries’ efforts to achieve sustainable economic growth and poverty reduction (including food insecurity, climate change and energy), there is a need for reinvigorated collective action on the MDGs.

In April 2010 the European Commission will present its annual Development Communication package, which this year will focus on how the EU can support accelerated and sustained progress towards the MDGs. The Communication and its accompanying Staff Working papers will review EU actions in support of progress towards the MDGs and put forward a comprehensive approach that addresses not only the financial aspects but also the policy dimension.

Four sectoral policy papers (on health, education, gender and food security) will be issued before the date of adoption of the spring package, but will be part of the framework.

This Development Communication “package” will be considered by Foreign Affairs Council and the European Council, and will provide an opportunity to shape a common EU position in view of the forthcoming UN High Level Event to be held in New York in September 2010.

The meeting agenda included also discussions on aid effectiveness criteria, the international division of labour, as well as innovative mechanisms for financing development.

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