Knut Ostby: Closing Remarks MDGs and Media Workshop

27 Aug 2010

Participants, representatives of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community and the UN Communications group, 

I am glad to be given the opportunity to close this week long workshop on the importance of Reporting on the Millennium Development Goals.

The MDGs, as you may have heard during the week, are the most broadly supported and specific development goals the world has ever agreed upon. Through the commitment to the Millennium Declaration, countries are bound by eight goals on income poverty, hunger, universal primary education, maternal mortality, disease, inadequate shelter, gender inequality, environmental degradation and the global partnership for development.  Adopted by world leaders in the year 2000 and set to be achieved by 2015, the MDGs are both global and local, tailored by each country to suit specific development needs.

The MDGs represent a minimum standard for development for all people across the world. As such they represent a basic right to development for all. The goals have been agreed by all countries and they belong to everyone. Therefore, to achieve them is not only the responsibility of developing country governments or of donors or UN agencies; they will only be achieved when everyone works for them, also NGOs, communities and media.

In September this year countries will gather at the UN Millennium Summit to review progress made in the past 10 years. Governments and communities in the Pacific - need to be more aptly aware of the need to attain the MDGs and it is for this purpose we believe that using the media as an advocacy tool for the attainment of the goals is crucial.

Across the world we have made major progress on the MDGs. For example, we are slated to reach the global goal on poverty by 2015. But when we look at specific regions the progress is mixed. For example, in some parts of the Pacific we are doing well on indicators for education and child mortality. But when we measure basic needs poverty, or gender empowerment for example, there are many challenges remaining and we need to redouble our efforts in the last five years before 2015.

We hope this one week training has brought about a more heightened awareness on the very issues that touch the lives of our people, on the very issues that will ensure development for each of your own countries.

It is the prerogative of the media in the important role they play to relay to the people of what the MDGs are all about. You as journalists must be able to tell people what the MDGs are in a language that they understand. The messages must be simple and clear,yet effective.

In this way, people get a sense of feeling that they can directly connect or link themselves to the MDGs. Our people will know that they can also participate in asking the Government or the people they voted for how they are going about achieving the MDGs for the country. I urge you all to also think about providing human interest angles on how Governments, CSOs, private sector organizations and the communities are working together in supporting actions to help achieve the goals.

The series of events like the Pacific Conference on the Human Face of the Global Economic Crisis held in February this year, the Food Summit held in April both in Vanuatu and the most recent Pacific Islands Forum Leaders meeting ties in well with the MDGs and contextual linkages are made in promoting the reporting of the MDGs based on how the people are being affected by the progress of development in terms of accessing health services, urban infrastructure, transportation and even access to land.

As most of you will be aware, next month world leaders will gather in New York for the MDG Summit – a chance to review progress and map out what needs to be done in the next five years.  The Pacific will be part of this process and through the MDG Declaration made by Forum Island Leaders in Vanuatu earlier this month, the region is well placed to contribute positively to the Summit outcomes.  As journalists you can play an important role before the Summit in writing about what your leaders will be doing in New York and after the Summit in reporting on how the Summit outcomes will impact on the work of Pacific island governments, civil society, the private sector and communities.

I acknowledge and appreciate the partnership with SPC and the support of the Pacific Islands News Association, Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat, Pacific Disability Forum and Pacific Islands Applied Geoscience Commission.

I take this opportunity to officially close the training workshop.

Finally, I hope you will have a chance to enjoy the Hibiscus Festival tonight;

Vinaka Vaka Levu!