North and Central Asia to draft ‘road map' for UN development goals
Bishkek (United Nations Information Services) - A regional development forum, sponsored by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB), opened today in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. The objective of the forum is to develop a sub-regional plan of action to tackle the challenges in achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in North and Central Asia. The forum intends to build stronger partnerships and networks across a large spectrum of stakeholders from all over the region.
Despite progress in reducing poverty and promoting education for girls, Central Asian countries still have a lot more to do. The sub-region has one of the highest proportions of population undernourished in Asia and the Pacific region. It is also falling behind in meeting some other MDGs, such as curbing the spread of HIV/AIDS and tuberculosis, and providing access to drinking water and improved sanitation in rural areas.
At the opening session, H.E. Mr. Almazbek Atambaev, Prime Minister of the Kyrgyzstan, informed the meeting that Central Asian countries face many challenges in economic development, improving people's lives, and ensuring peace and sustainability in the sub-region. "At the 63rd Commission Session of UNESCAP held in Almaty recently, the Regional MDG Road Map was approved by member countries. This Regional Road Map represents an action platform for all UN Agencies, international organizations and developed countries," added the Prime Minister.
"The Government of the Kyrgyzstan welcomes this regional road map. The Central Asian countries must strengthen coordination and interaction between themselves. Only through joint efforts can we achieve success," the Prime Minister emphasized.
Mr. Shigeru Mochida, Deputy Executive Secretary of UNESCAP, stated that the latest success in poverty reduction at the global level is mostly due to the rapid economic growth in Asia, as highlighted in the newly released United Nations Millennium Development Goals Report 2007. He added that "countries in North and Central Asia have contributed significantly to the overall performance of the Asia-Pacific region and they have become one of the world's fastest growing sub-region."
Mr. Mochida reminded that despite the fact that overall incidence of poverty has been going down, there are indications that income inequality is rising in several countries.
He emphasized that "in the context of North and Central Asia, regional and sub-regional cooperation would play vital role in addressing these challenges." He added that "so would greater economic links as part of the on-going integration processes that are under way in this sub-region."
"The MDGs have perhaps a different meaning in this region than in the rest of Asia or in Africa. Our partner countries talk about improving living standards and less about poverty. We feel they are right in localizing the MDG agenda to their specific needs," said Mr. Ashraf Malik, Country Director, ADB, Kyrgyzstan.
The North and Central Asia MDG Forum brings together a unique mix of high level government officials, representatives of civil society, and the media to assess progress towards MDGs in the region. To best address the remaining challenges, participants of the forums are expected to produce an action plan for North and Central Asia to achieve the MDGs by the internationally agreed deadline - 2015.
"Today we are at the half way towards MDGs. It is now an excellent time for all of us to be focusing our attention on the challenges and opportunities of social and economic development of the countries of this region. It is very critical that we move beyond meetings and discussions to action and implementation of national MDG strategies in order to meet the challenge that we have set for ourselves," emphasized Ms. Kori Udovichki, UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director of the Regional Bureau for Europe and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), UNDP, at the press conference.
She also added, "I believe that Regional Road Map discussed in this Forum will help us to go forward to achieve the goals and enrich the targets set in national MDG agendas."
The Forum is part of a tripartite MDG initiative by UNESCAP, UNDP and ADB. A South Asia regional forum was held in Nepal in October in 2006, and an East and South-East Asia regional forum was in Hanoi in March 2007.
The MDGs were adopted by world leaders at the Millennium Summit in New York in 2000. The governments committed themselves to a series of development targets to be reached by 2015. There are eight MDGs - eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.
More detailed information you can get from: www.mdgasiapacific.org
For additional information, please contact:
Poverty Reduction and Development Unit, ESCAP
Tel: +(66-2) 288-1635
Fax: +(66-2) 288-3007
E-mail address: coeur-bizot(at)un.org
Coordinator on Public Relations
UNDP in Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan
Tel: +996 (312) 61-12-11Fax: +996 (312) 61-12-17
E-mail address: vasilina.brazhko(at)undp.org