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UN urging nations to accelerate anti-poverty work

July 1, 2013

GENEVA (AP) — Some of the world’s key anti-poverty targets set for 2015 will not be met unless nations do more to achieve them, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday at the outset of a monthlong session of the organization’s main economic arm.

Ban said that many nations are still struggling to make good on pledges made in 2000, such as cutting child mortality by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-quarters.

He said other areas with lagging progress include protections for forests and fish stocks, universal access to antiretroviral therapy among pheileople living with HIV, primary education, sanitation and foreign aid.

He did not blame either donors or developing nations for the lagging progress. A U.N. report issued Monday, however, noted the impact of an 18-year high in the number of people uprooted by conflict or persecution, and slowing economic growth which means continuing job losses that hits young people the hardest.

The maternal mortality rate declined by 47 percent between 1990 and 2010, while the mortality rate for children under 5 dropped by 41 percent in the same period, according to the report on the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals.

Since taking office in 2007, Ban has pushed nations to meet the anti-poverty goals. They include cutting extreme poverty by half, ensuring that every child has a primary school education, halting and reversing the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and reducing by half the number of people without access to clean water and basic sanitation.

He also appointed a panel last year to recommend a new development agenda after the goals expire in 2015.

But many of the world’s poorest countries, especially in sub-Saharan Africa, have made little headway in eradicating poverty. The council’s president, Colombia’s ambassador at the U.N., Nestor Osorio Londono, opened the session emphasizing that 1 billion people still live in “extreme poverty.”

Ban called for more innovation, saying 19,000 children under age of 5 die each day, mostly from preventable disease, and almost 2 million people a year still die from smoke inhalation because they still burn traditional fires to produce energy.

But with some of the targets already met — such as halving the proportion of people who live in extreme poverty and who lack access to safe drinking water — the U.N. report says the goals already rank as “the most successful global anti-poverty push in history.”

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