Spain Donates $700 Million to Advance Millenium Goals

NEW YORK, New York, December 22, 2006 (ENS) - The government of Spain has donated $700 million to help achieve the Millennium Development Goals, a set of eight globally agreed targets that aim to improve environmental conditions, combat poverty, and encourage democracy by 2015.

The largest donation yet offered to advance the goals, the money will be used to establish a dedicated fund for projects that help developing countries meet the targets.

The UN Fund for the Achievement of the Millennium Development Goals will be managed jointly by Spain and the UN Development Programme, UNDP.

Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation Leire Pajín and UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis signed the agreement setting up the fund on Tuesday at UN Headquarters in New York.

Pajin

Spanish Secretary of State for International Cooperation Leire Pajin (left), UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis (center), and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan signed the agreement establishing the fund at the UN in New York. (Photo courtesy UN)
José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero, Spain’s Prime Minister, and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan witnessed the signing.

“I would just like to acknowledge the magnificent announcement by the Spanish prime minister yesterday, that Spain is donating $700 million to the effort to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015,” Annan said in his last press conference before handing over the reins of the world body to his successor, Ban Ki-moon of South Korea.

“This is the largest contribution yet made to the UN for this purpose by any country," Annan said, "and I believe it is a splendid example of international solidarity which I hope other members will follow."

Through this contribution, Spain intends to support the efforts of the United Nations system to coordinate and streamline its work on the ground and strengthen the UN reform process.

The new Achievement Fund will focus on environment and climate change; democratic governance; gender equality; basic social needs, including youth employment; economic development, including the role of the private sector; conflict prevention and peace building; and cultural diversity and development.

Ban

Ban Ki-Moon was the foreign minister of South Korea before he was elected to be the eighth secretary-general by the United Nations General Assembly. He was sworn in on December 14, 2006. (Photo courtesy UN)
National ownership and leadership is the guiding and operating principle of the new MDG Achievement Fund, the agreement states.

A single steering committee composed of representatives from the government of Spain, the UNDP, and internationally recognized independent development experts will approve projects for funding.

At the country level, UN Country Teams, under the leadership of UN resident coordinators, who often serve as UNDP resident representatives, will be invited to submit consolidated proposals, reinforcing and strengthening the coherence of UN development activities.

Thematic advisory sub-committees will review the projects submitted by developing countries in collaboration with the UN system.

Measurable results indicators in each of the seven priority areas will be defined and progress against these results will be tracked, assessed and published and reviewed annually by the steering committee.

State-of-the-art transparency, reporting and access to information about the new fund and its operations is promised in the agreement.

Progress on actually attaining the Millennium Development Goals is slow, says Jeffrey Sachs, the secretary-general’s special adviser for the goals.

Sachs

Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, Dr. Jeffrey Sachs is author of "The End of Poverty." (Photo courtesy Earth Negotiations Bulletin)
In his year-end review, the American economist said Wednesday that while there has been a "long, slow start" after world leaders adopted the goals at the UN’s Millennium Summit in 2000, countries now are "realizing the importance of the life-and-death targets and increasingly know what needs to be done to attain them."

"The biggest reason for optimism is that we are a world that is rich in knowledge, science and technology and proven approaches to fighting poverty, hunger and disease and I think the world’s going to get the job done,” Sachs told reporters at UN Headquarters in New York.

Sachs paid tribute to Secretary-General Annan for initiating the idea of the Millennium Development Goals, saying they will be one of his "great legacies."

He expressed confidence that incoming Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will continue to stress their importance when he takes over January 1, 2007.

The Millennium Development Goals cover eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, promoting gender equality, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensuring environmental sustainability and fostering a global partnership for development.