UNITED NATIONS – A high-level U.N. panel recommended an ambitious roadmap Thursday to tackle the world's major challenges, from climate change to equality for women, with a key goal of ending extreme poverty everywhere by 2030.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appointed the panel last year to recommend a new development agenda after the U.N. Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs, expire in 2015. World leaders agreed in 2000 on anti-poverty goals including cutting extreme poverty by half, halting the HIV/AIDS pandemic and increasing the number of people with access to clean water and sanitation.
The extreme poverty and clean water goals have been met, but many other of the goals probably won't be achieved.
The 27-member U.N. panel expressed "deep respect" for the MDGs, saying: "The 13 years since the millennium have seen the fastest reduction in poverty in human history: there are half a billion fewer people living below an international poverty line of $1.25 a day. Child death rates have fallen by more than 30 percent, with about three million children's lives saved each year compared to 2000. Deaths from malaria have fallen by one quarter."
The panel proposed a major expansion of the MDGs — with a special focus on the more than one billion people still living on less than $1.25 a day — to tackle the causes of poverty such as weak government institutions, corruption, a lack of basic freedoms, conflict and hunger.
The panel's report will kick-start two years of discussions and negotiations on what the development agenda after 2015 should be
The co-chairs, Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and British Prime Minister David Cameron, called it a "bold and practical" proposal with 12 goals and 54 targets.
"Our vision and our responsibility are to end extreme poverty in all its forms in the context of sustainable development and to have in place the building blocks of sustained prosperity for all," the panel said.
The recommended goals include ensuring food security, sustainable energy and sustainable natural resources management; creating jobs and promoting economic growth and good governance; achieving gender equality and ensuring stable and peaceful societies. Targets include promoting free speech and the rule of law, ending child marriage, protecting property rights, encouraging entrepreneurship and ensuring that every child has at least a primary school education.
Mexico's former foreign relations secretary Patricia Espinoza, a panel member, said the vision for 2030 won't be achieved "if the world continues to do business like we have been doing for the last decades."
U.S. panelist John Podesta, who served as President Bill Clinton's chief of staff and co-chaired President Barack Obama's transition team, told a press conference that one of the MDGs' failings was that it didn't include proposals to promote the peace and security that world leaders talked about in 2000.
The panel rectifies this by recommending "building blocks" to peace and stability, but Podesta said "more than 40 percent of the extreme poor now live in conflict and conflict-affected states, so until we tackle that problem with real vigor, I think ... it's hard to finish the job."