UN: 1 April 2008- The UN General Assembly kicked off on Tuesday a special two-day debate to review the progress made so far to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and to identify the challenges as well as the methods to address them.
"We will only emerge victorious and meet most, if not all, of the MDGs by 2015, with more commitment and dedication," said General Assembly President Srgjan Kerim at the opening session.
"The stakes are high," he said. "If we achieve the MDGs on time500 million people will be lifted out of poverty, 300 million more people will be adequately fed, and 30 million young children’s lives will have been saved."
But Kerim pointed out that progress so far is "too slow" as the world stands at the mid-point toward meeting the 2015 deadline.
"On our current trends none of the goals will be met in Sub-Saharan Africa," he said. "We are facing a crisis — a development emergency."
"This year, we have a critical window of opportunity to accelerate progress by translating our commitments into actions," he noted.
The thematic debate, titled "Recognizing the achievements, addressing the challenges and getting back on track to achieve the MDGs by 2015," will concentrate on the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger, achieving universal primary education, reducing child mortality, improving maternal health, and combating malaria and other diseases.
The first day will be made up of panel discussions that will focus on the issues related to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger as well as lessons learnt and action needed to achieve the education and health goals. During the debate on Wednesday, member states will discuss the issues of poverty, health and education.
According to UN statistics, the absolute number of poor in sub-Saharan Africa is still rising and projected to stand at 360 million by 2015. Globally, around 72 million primary age children are not enrolled in school. And every year, more than half a million women lose their lives to causes related to childbirth, almost 10 million children die before reaching their fifth birthday and an estimated 1.7 million people in Africa become infected with HIV.