Knut Ostby: Remarks at the Launch of the Nauru MDGs Report Launch

24 Oct 2012

Hon. Minister Ronald Kun
Secretary for Finance
Heads of Departments
Ladies and Gentlemen  

Introduction

On behalf of the UNDP Fiji Resident Representative, Mr. Knut Ostby, I thank you for the opportunity to provide some remarks on this important occasion. Firstly, I would like to congratulate the Government of Nauru on producing the country’s first National MDG Report.

As you would recall, when the eight Millennium Development Goals were launched at the beginning of the new millennium, they were then, and still are now, the most comprehensive and universally agreed development goals to tackle poverty across its many dimensions.

The MDGs are about eradicating extreme poverty and hunger through the empowerment of women; increasing access to essential services of education, healthcare, clean water, and sanitation; reducing the incidence of the most prevalent deadly diseases; protecting the environment; and forging strong global partnerships for development.

For the world’s most vulnerable people, achieving the time bound and specific commitments of the MDGs represents the most important promise to keep in order to make huge needed changes in their lives.

As 2015 draws near it is timely for a close review of our progress made towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals in light of Government priorities for sustainable socio-economic development and the work of our strategic partners in the private sector, civil society organizations and development partners.

MDGs progress at the Global Level

According to the latest Global MDG report, the world has met some important targets ahead of the deadline. These include:

  • The proportion of people living on less $1.25 a day fell from 47% in 1990 to 24% in 2008 – a reduction from over 2 billion to less than 1.4 billion,
  • Between 1990 and 2010, over 2 billion people gained access to improved water sources, such as piped water and protected wells,
  • The share of urban residents in the developing world living in slums declined from 39% in 2000 to 33% in 2012,
  • Enrolment rates of children of primary school age increased markedly, especially in sub-Saharan Africa – from 58% to 76% between 1990 and 2010,
  • Despite population growth, the number of deaths of children who are under five years old fell from more than 12 million in 1990 to 7.6 million in 2010,
  • In terms of access to treatment for people living with HIV, at the end of 2010, 6.5 Million people were receiving antiretroviral therapy for HIV and AIDS in developing regions. This constitutes an increase of over 1.4 million people since December 2009.
  • The estimated incidence of malaria has decreased globally by 17% since 2000.Malaria specific mortality rates decreased by 25% over the same period and reported malaria cases fell by more than 50% between 2000 and 2010 in 43 of the 99 countries with ongoing malaria transmission.  

Although good progress has been achieved, the latest global MDG report also highlights many areas that require improvement. These include:

  • Employment of the vulnerable accounts for about 58% of all employment in developing regions in 2011. Women and youth are more likely to find themselves in such insecure and poorly remunerated positions than the rest of the employed population,
  • Improvements in maternal health and maternal deaths has been slow, also, reductions in adolescent childbearing and expansion of contraceptive use have been slow,
  • Hunger remains a global challenge, FAO estimates that 850 million living in hunger in the world in the 2006/2008 period – 15.5% of the world population,
  • Despite a reduction in the share of urban populations living in slums, the absolute number continued to grow from 650 million in the baseline year of 1990 to an estimated 863 million in 2012,
  • Gender inequality persists and women continue to face discrimination in access to education, work and economic assets, and participation in government,
  • Violence against women continues to undermine efforts to reach all goals.    

Nauru MDGs assessment

In terms of MDG achievement in Nauru, the Nauru National MDG Report highlights progress made particularly in terms of; achieving universal basic education; eliminating gender disparity in education; reducing maternal mortality; providing universal access to treatment for HIV/AIDS; halting and reversing the spread of tuberculosis; providing access to essential drugs; and making available the benefits of new technology in cooperation with the private sector.   

The report indicates that there is potential to accelerate progress in terms of reducing child mortality and improving access to safe drinking water and basic sanitation. More focused interventions are required in terms of promoting gender equality in leadership positions, improving access to reproductive health, reducing the prevalence of non-communicable diseases, reducing biodiversity loss and dealing comprehensively with debt problems to make debt more sustainable in the long term.   

Among the recommendations proposed in this report, key considerations include the provision of;  sustainable income generating opportunities and adequate social protection services for the poor and vulnerable, more opportunities for girls and women, greater attention on neo-natal health and improving education on reproductive health including family planning, promote regular exercise and healthy nutrition,  and establish and maintain the necessary foundations for good governance across all levels of decision making.

Based on this background information, the most important question for us is “what can be done to accelerate achievement of the MDGs”?

You will be pleased to note that in addition to efforts by other bilateral and development partners, UNDP’s Administrator, Helen Clark has proposed eight action points to accelerate and sustain the achievements of the MDGs over the next three years:

  1. Support country level  development;  
  2. Foster inclusive economic growth;
  3. Improve opportunities for women and girls;
  4. Continue to target investments in health and education, in clean water and sanitation, and in the professionals who run these services;  
  5. Scale up social protection and employment programmes;
  6. Expand access to energy and promote low carbon development;
  7. Improve domestic resource mobilization;  and
  8. Commitment by the international community to provide development assistance and improve the predictability of aid effectiveness.

The UN’s programming framework for the next cycle (i.e. the United Nations Development Assistance Framework, UNDAF 2013 – 2017) captures the majority of these eight action points. For Nauru, your draft country results matrix, which is aligned to your National Sustainable Development Strategy, has 4 main outcomes: (1) Environmental Management, Climate Change (Mitigation & Adaptation), Water Resources Management, and Disaster Risk Management; (2) Gender Equality & Social Protection; (3) Inclusive Economic Growth & Poverty Reduction; and (4) Governance. This will build on the work that is supported in the current programming cycle – majority of which you will be aware of.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I would like to leave three key messages tonight: (1) Improving the quality and availability of date is important for developing effective policies to advance towards the MDGs; (2) Costing of the required MDG related programs in the form of Medium Term Budgeting Frameworks is another crucial element. This requires adequate capacity to plan, cost and resource the development process around short and longer-term targets; and (3) A focus on pro-poor and gender sensitive policy formulation and budgeting is essential to ensure that those at the lower end of the social strata are suitably targeted.

Concluding remarks

To conclude, I would like to acknowledge the valuable guidance and contributions provided by the National MDG Taskforce as well as from government departments, non-state actors, the private sector as well as fellow development partners that has added much value to the analysis of MDG progress, challenges and recommendations for the way forward that is well documented in the report.   

UNDP hopes that the Report’s insights will promote and guide further discussions and work towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals. I wish you all the very best in pursuing the development agenda for Nauru.

Thank you very much.