Speaking to a special United Nations commission on world economic and social development, Archbishop Celestino Migliore, the Holy See’s permanent observer to the U.N. told the group that redoubled efforts are needed to seriously reduce poverty levels worldwide and meet the U.N.’s own self-instated goals.
Archbishop Migliore took part yesterday in the 44th session of the Commission for Social Development of the U.N. Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). The commission is meeting in New York to review the results of the first "Decade for the Eradication of Poverty," a U.N. initiative which spans the years 1997 to 2006.
The Vatican observer opened his address by pointing out that although between 1981 and 2001 the proportion of the world population living in extreme poverty declined from 40 to 21 percent, "that still leaves far too many countries and peoples living with high levels of poverty."
He likewise said that despite "encouraging progress being made in poverty reduction in several Asian countries, the global picture is mixed, with sub-Saharan Africa having made little or no progress in reducing the incidence of poverty in the 1990s.”
“If these trends continue,” the Archbishop said, “only eight African countries will halve extreme poverty by 2015."
He also soberly pointed out however, that "the number of Africans now living on less than 1 U.S. dollar a day has nearly doubled since 1980, from 165 million to 315 million."
In light of this, Archbishop Migliore appealed the world body for renewed poverty reduction efforts, adding that "A three-pronged agenda is needed for developing countries: to improve the terms of trade; to double aid assistance; and to provide further debt relief.
He said that "Lessons from the experience of some developing countries, particularly in Asia, make it clear that rapid poverty reduction cannot take place without sustainable economic growth in which the poor share equitably in the benefits.”
“Consequently,” he added leaders of “developing countries'…need to be encouraged and assisted in the pursuit of policies that will enable their countries to attain much higher economic growth rates than so far achieved since 2000."
The Archbishop concluded his English-language address by stressing that the Holy See "continues to see a key role for ECOSOC in monitoring progress towards achieving MDGs (Millennium Development Goals) in the world's poorest countries.”
“Such monitoring needs to be done now,” he said, “on an annual basis, given the close proximity of 2015," the date by which, the U.N. group wants to see levels of world poverty cut in half.