Australia has rare chance to lead world in tackling poverty

Australia has rare chance to lead world in tackling poverty

Australia has a unique global opportunity to resuscitate the ailing Millennium Development Goals following the appointment of Prime Minister Julia Gillard as co-chair of a powerful UN forum established to tackle world poverty and climate change.

The Prime Minister ‘s appointment by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon, to the prestigious forum, puts her alongside a series of famous faces and world leaders with long histories fighting for the rights of the poorest of the poor.

“As global financial markets across Europe take the focus away from where our support is needed most, the Prime Minister now has a tremendous opportunity to get poverty back on the agenda,” Caritas Australia CEO, Jack de Groot, said.

“With the economic uncertainty facing leaders in the Eurozone, unfortunately the MDGs seem to have fallen by the wayside. We saw that only this week when the G20 summit in Mexico was completely dominated by the European situation.

“The Millennium Development Goals are an excellent guideline for the outcomes we need to achieve for the world’s poor, while offering clear-cut timelines for when we should be achieving these outcomes.”

Mr de Groot said increasingly international financing put people at the service of the economy rather than the global economy at the service of all men and women, especially the poorest of the poor.

“There is no doubt people are struggling across Europe and potentially throughout the United States and the rest of the world. But with a billion people going hungry in developing nations every single day, development and poverty alleviation has to be our top priority,” Mr de Groot said.

“It is the right of all human beings to live in dignity, to know they won’t go hungry, to know their food sources are secure and malnutrition will not be their realities.

“We encourage Ms Gillard to take Australia’s excellent recent track record in dealing with global poverty one step further and get the MDGs back on Australia’s and other nation’s agendas.”

As co-chair, Ms Gillard will lead the forum that includes high profile celebrities and politically-respected leaders including singer Sir Bob Geldof, CNN founder Ted Turner, UN special adviser Jeffrey Sachs and Graca Machel, the wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela. The announcement was made at the Rio+20 conference, which Prime Minister Gillard is currently attending.

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