kids-round-earth.jpgDespite the global economic downturn, the world is still on track to meet a key U.N. goal of halving the number of people living on less than $1 a day by 2015, according to a report released Wednesday.

The UN confirmed that the overall poverty rate is expected to fall to 15 percent by 2015, which is half the number seen in 1990, meaning the U.N. goal would be met.

Cutting global poverty is the first of eight Millennium Development Goals adopted by 189 world leaders at a U.N. summit in 2000.

This week’s UN report provides a mixed picture of past efforts to achieve all 8 goals, with progress lagging in the areas of sanitation, women’s equality, and maternal mortality.

With these challenges in hand, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon named a star-powered committee on Wednesday that will try to spark progress against all the welfare problems targeted in the Millennium Goals (MDGs).

Joining the anti-poverty committee will be two Nobel Peace laureates, Muhammad Yunus and Wangari Maathai (Kenya Green Belt), Microsoft founder Bill Gates, Nelson Mandela’s wife Graca Machel, and CNN founder Ted Turner, who also created the United Nations Foundation in 1998, endowed with his historic $1 billion gift, a public charity that supports UN causes particularly related to children and women’s health and the environment.

The group will be led by co-chairs President Paul Kagame of Rwanda and Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero of Spain, and also include former Chilean president Michelle Bachelet, and Jeffrey Sachs of The Earth Institute, a professor at Columbia University.

“As you can see, (this is) a real collection of superheroes in defeating poverty,” the UN secretary general said. He also noted that “distinguished” personalities from China, India, Japan and Britain will also join the panel.

With these top thinkers and doers joining the new MDG Advocacy Group, progress could quicken in the final four years of the humanitarian race.

sudan-kids-smiling.jpgThe good news is we have already made progress. Childhood deaths have been reduced from 12.5 million in 1990 to 8.8 million in 2008. The proliferation of technology and mobile devices has created new pathways for information-sharing and enhancing the delivery of health care. Today we are using smarter, cleaner ways to provide energy for the planet.  And the number of people receiving antiretroviral therapy increased tenfold from 2003-2008. 

“In September, world leaders will meet in New York for the UN’s MDG Summit,” said Ted Turner in a statement this week. “I encourage others to join me – as citizen advocates for the MDGs – to contribute to this fight.”

“Private Philanthropy has got to take on the toughest challenges. Everyone has something to contribute and there are ways that people can dedicate their time, energy or money to help the UN in its work. We can’t do it alone. By working together, we can improve the lives of people around the world.”

Visit the Millennium Development Goals website.

Image courtesy of Sun Star

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