In the year 2000 the community of nations agreed on eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) in an effort to reduce world poverty by half by 2015, among other objectives. The United Nations General Assembly issued its first report on the subject on the occasion of a High-level Plenary Meeting in 2005. A new interim report will be drawn up at an MDG Summit in September of this year, to be attended by government representatives from all over the world. The Federal Council, with this in mind, approved the second interim report on Switzerland’s contribution to achievement of the MDGs, on 30 June.
The report of the Federal Council shows that the international community as a whole has made progress with the various development goals. The success varies however according to the agreed objective and the region. A number of Asian countries in particular have had notable successes. Other countries however are lagging behind, particularly those south of the Sahara and in general countries that have suffered from conflict and natural disasters. The effects of the global economic and financial crisis and the unabated change in climate are creating additional difficulties for efforts to combat poverty, undermining the achievements already made and in some cases reversing them.
The report provides concrete examples of Switzerland’s contribution to achievement of the MDGs. In the water sector Swiss development programmes between 2002 and 2007 helped at least 1,850,000 people to gain access to clean drinking water as well as basic sanitation in Bangladesh, Kirghizstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Moldavia, Hungary, Mozambique and Niger. In southern Africa the Confederation’s efforts are focused on health issues, while in West Africa, Bangladesh and Bhutan the focus is on education. The least satisfactory results have been in countries and regions that currently find themselves in a post-conflict situation and with difficulties at the level of public administration.
The Federal Council will in the second half of the year submit to parliament the message it adopted on 23 June, calling for an increase in Swiss development aid to reach 0.5% of gross national income by 2015. The Federal Council is committed to ensuring coherency in Switzerland’s external relations. Particular attention is being paid to the effectiveness of all programmes and projects, with a results-oriented approach to all such activities.
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