Institutional Changes Needed to Achieve MDGs, Manila Meeting Told

MANILA, PHILIPPINES - Institutional changes are needed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in Asia and the Pacific that involve greater regional cooperation, learning from indigenous knowledge, and building stronger partnerships at every level, a meeting in Manila heard today.

Real progress has been made on achieving the goals in the region, but the real promise of the MDGs remains distant for many millions of people, the meeting heard, held to launch a report on the Asia and Pacific's progress toward achieving the MDGs.

The report, A Future Within Reach: Reshaping Institutions in a Region of Disparities to Meet the Millennium Development Goals in Asia and the Pacific, tracks progress of the region's countries in each MDG target and recommends institutional changes to achieve them.

Produced jointly by ADB, United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP), the report says none of the region's developing countries is on track to achieve all the goals.

Held at ADB's Manila Headquarters, the launch meeting was attended by about 150 participants from Asia and the Pacific. Philippine Vice-President Noli de Castro delivered an opening statement.

Following the presentation of the report, by Kim Hak-Su, Executive Secretary of UNESCAP; UNDP Regional Director for the Bureau of Asia and the Pacific Hafiz A. Pasha; and ADB Vice President Geert van der Linden; roundtable discussions were held on the way forward for service delivery, regional cooperation, and advocacy of the MDGs.

Going forward on regional cooperation, Asia and the Pacific countries have to better utilize the region's foreign exchange reserves, avoid fragmented projects that are inappropriate to the region, and bring in more intra-regional sharing of expertise, the meeting heard.

On the way forward for service delivery, participants were told that harnessing indigenous knowledge is important, as is learning from good practices within the region in service delivery for replication. Achieving the MDGs is only possible through fostering partnerships at every level: public, private, and civil society, including religious leaders, participants said.

To achieve greater advocacy of the MDGs, the meeting heard, a more populist approach is needed that achieves wider outreach to the people, sticks to the issues, and develops trust. Greater dialogue needs to be established between different sectors of society on the issue.

The MDGs were established in 2000, following the Millennium Summit in New York, when the world's 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.

On 14-16 September 2005, world leaders will reconvene in New York to assess progress toward the goals and future actions required to ensure they are achieved. A Future Within Reach will be a key input, bringing the perspectives of the countries of the Asia and Pacific region to the meeting.

For more information, please contact:

ADB:
Graham Dwyer
External Relations Specialist
Tel: 63 2 632 5253
gdwyer@adb.org

UNDP:
Kay Kirby Dorji
kay.kirby@undp.org

UNESCAP:
David Lazarus
lazarus.unescap@un.org