Secretary General Ban Urges Focus on Development as G20 Leaders Meet in Seoul

NEW YORK–(ENEWSPF)–11 November 2010 – As leaders of the world’s major economies gather in Seoul to discuss currency policies and trade imbalances, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today stressed the need to focus on improving the lives of the poor and achieving development goals such as slashing poverty and hunger.

“I believe that promises made must be promises kept,” Mr. Ban said in remarks to the Korean National Assembly’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Forum.

The MDGs, which world leaders agreed upon in 2000, encompass eight internationally-agreed targets which aim to reduce poverty, hunger, maternal and child deaths, disease, inadequate shelter, gender inequality and environmental degradation.

At a high-level summit in New York in September, some 140 heads of State and government renewed their commitment to achieving these objectives by the target date of 2015.

Mr. Ban noted that with only five years left, strong political leadership, coupled with smart investment and the provision of adequate financial resources, is crucial to achieving the Goals.

Speaking at the Seoul Foreign Correspondents Club yesterday, he stressed the need to keep the promise on the MDGs, which he described as a “blueprint” for decent jobs, education, health care, women’s empowerment, clean water, and a clean environment.

“The MDGs are about building sustainability, building global growth, building a better world,” said the Secretary-General, calling the MDGs ‘weapons of mass construction.’

“The economic crisis should not be an excuse to do less. It is a reason to do more. We must be accountable to the most vulnerable,” he added.

Noting that the global economic recovery remains fragile, with 64 million people pushed into extreme poverty this year, Mr. Ban emphasized that the world cannot afford to think narrowly about development and economic growth.

He will address the G20 leaders on Friday, when he will make the case that development is not a side issue, and that investing in development is investing in everyone’s recovery.

While in Seoul, Mr. Ban met today with President Jacob Zuma of South Africa and thanked him for his country’s role in co-chairing the G20 development working group, which will help to coordinate the work by the G20 and the UN to achieve the MDGs by 2015.

“They agreed that it was highly significant that development would figure prominently on the agenda of the G20 summit for the first time,” said UN spokesperson Farhan Haq.