The Millennium Development Goals' antipoverty targets are off track in Africa, Asia and Latin America. People are still living beyond poverty level. Credits: Caritas

The Millennium Development Goals’ antipoverty targets are off track in Africa, Asia and Latin America. People are still living beyond poverty level. Credits: Caritas

One year ago British Prime Minister Gordon Brown travelled to UN headquarters in New York to meet with Secretary-general Ban ki-Moon to urgently challenge Member States and the UN to pursue the Millennium Development Goals with much greater urgency.

He offered a compelling “Call to Action” to confront the looming lethargy and inaction. Sanctioned by UN leadership this initiative was incorporated into the ongoing MDG Campaign with its timeline to 2015. When the 63rd Annual General Assembly unfolds at UN next month, Member States will also address the Call to Action on September 25, 2008.

In 2000 Member States (189 countries) signed the Millennium Declaration they wrote together at the United Nations. Concern for expanded and integrated development led world leaders to make a bold commitment to work for the eradication of poverty.

The declaration was the springboard for the Millennium Development Goals, eight highly focused targets to be implemented and achieved by 2015.

By October 2008 the MDG Midpoint will be reached. Regrettably, while there has been some substantive movement in some countries, we are tragically far from where we need to be, especially in parts of Africa, especially where poverty is staggering.

Caritas Internationalis wants to see action now on the MDGs. Antipoverty targets are off track in Africa, Asia and Latin America. We need to see past aid pledges delivered in earnest development schemes. To counter the effects of climate change on communities around the world new, increased financing is critical.

Caritas has been a constant champion of the MDGs reminding governments that their promises matter, that billions of lives are in their hands. They need to act now, immediately, sooner not later. We know every day delayed costs human lives.

Caritas involvement with the Call to Action follows from work done at the Davos World Economic Forum, the G8 in Hokkaido, Japan and the Accra Aid Effectiveness Forum in Ghana.

During the last eight months the Caritas Internationalis Delegation in New York has served as convener organizing the interests and investments of NGO partners from religious and humanitarian sectors.

Civil Society contributions with expert inputs have been planned for maximum impacts on the UN General Assembly’s High-level Event.

Demands have been made to insure fuller participation at the Call to Action next month.

As Head of the CI International Delegation to UN in New York, Joseph Donelly chairs the MDG-NGO Convening Group, a “2015 NGO Working Group”, which meets regularly with NGO networks and Member States. Caritas itself meets often with the UK Mission to UN and other Member States. More than forty countries have signed onto the UK-led Call to Action. Coordination and advocacy with the UN’s MDG Campaign, its regional representatives and other UN agencies has been an ongoing priority for the NGO Convening Group.

Caritas has pushed for key voices from the South and from Africa, as well as high-level Church representatives, to be among limited civil society reps invited to address Member States on September 25, 2008.

The MDG NGO Convening Group will host an interfaith event on Monday, September 22 at the UN Church Center with planned participation from heads of state, Mission Ambassadors, UN executives, religious leaders from all faiths and NGOs from all sectors. The venue launches an updated interfaith NGO policy statement to the UN General Assembly.