Mr. Roddy Heylier on Keeping the Promise

A public lecture given by the Department for Development Cooperation in the Netherlands Antilles, and the United Nations Development Program, in collaboration with the University of St. Martin (USM) for Tuesday, June 8 at USM from 6.00pm – 8.30pm, is about achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). 

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The MDG goes back to September 2000 when 147 heads of State and Government, together with 42 ministers and heads of delegations, gathered at the General Assembly of the United Nations to explore ways of pooling their combined will and efforts to revitalize international cooperation on behalf of the less developed countries and, in particular, to mount a frontal assault on extreme poverty.

On that occasion they identified goals for their efforts to combat poverty and hunger, reverse environmental degradation, achieve improvements in the fields of education and health, and promote gender equality. Because of the lack of development, the formation of a partnership to enrich and reinvigorate international cooperation was considered as one of the eight MDGs.

At the moment, there are five years left until the 2015 deadline to achieve the MDG. The United Nations (UN) Secretary General (SecGen) has called for the adoption of a global action agenda for accelerating progress towards the MDG, when world leaders meet at a UN Summit in New York in September.

The UN SecGen says that if nations around the world fail to meet the MDG, the result will be a multiplication in global instability, violence, epidemic diseases, environmental degradation and runaway population growth.

A number of countries have achieved major successes in combating extreme poverty and hunger, improving school enrolment and child health, expanding access to clean water, strengthening control of malaria, tuberculosis and neglected tropical diseases, and providing increased access to HIV treatment. These successes have taken place in some of the poorest countries, demonstrating that MDG are achievable.

According to the UN SecGen, progress has been uneven and without additional efforts, several goals are likely to be missed in many countries. The challenges are most severe in the least developed countries, land-locked developing countries, some small island developing states, those vulnerable to natural hazards, and countries in or emerging from conflict.

Based on 10-years of global effort to achieve MDGs, a preliminary report identifies a number of key lessons learnt. While economic growth is necessary, it is not sufficient for progress. The growth process must be inclusive and equitable to maximize poverty reduction and progress on other MDGs.

The report says that forward looking macroeconomic policies to support broad-based stable growth, e.g. by sustaining public investment strategies and universal social protection, for achievement of the MDGs.

The USM lecture comes at a time as another milestone nears. As part of the follow-up process, the General Assembly reviewed in September 2005 the state of affairs leading up to 2015. This September 2010 another review will take place just five years before the 2015 deadline.

Financing MDGs starts at home. As Sint Maarten heads towards country status, in the post 10-10-10 era, the nation will also be responsible for achieving the MDGs. In our national planning and development, we will need to take stock of where we are at when it comes to the eight MDGs.

As a nation, we will have to carry on where the Netherlands Antilles left off. Our national leaders will have to make a renewed commitment to build on our own achievements so far and to bridge the gaps so we can deliver on our shared responsibility to build a better Sint Maarten for generations to come and that would be part of keeping the promise.

Roddy Heyliger