Saturday, January 15, 2005

[MDGs] Combat evils of Poverty, Disease and Environmental degradation to tackle Global Insecurity: Worldwatch

In its annual report State of the World 2005 released this week by the Worldwatch Institute, a Washington, D.C. based research group, acts of terrorism such as those of September 11th, were declared worst-case symptoms brought about by an atmosphere of insecurity, turmoil created by the interplay of factors such as poverty, infectious disease and pollution, together comprising the true “axis of evil”.

Among the ingredients, cited in the report, in the current state of world affairs leading to a recipe for instability include among others – more than 2 billion people suffering from hunger and chronic malnutrition; roughly half a million people facing scarcity of water; the rapid spread of diseases like AIDS and nearly 21-26 percent of people in the age-group 15-29 unemployed in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were developed by the U.N. as part of a practical strategy to deal with eradication of extreme poverty, establishment of universal primary education, promotion of gender equality, curb of the spread of major disease such as HIV/AIDS, reduction of child mortality and environmental sustainability. Although 191 United Nations signed on to achieve these goals by 2015, the report finds that the world has only put in a third of the effort required to achieve the MDGs. Recent trends have shown that there has been a shift in governments’ global funding priorities from addressing basic social and environmental needs to strengthening military power, as is apparent from the equivalent of a near trillion U.S. dollar sum that is invested in the world’s militaries annually, according to the Worldwatch report.

The MDGs which were originally adopted to address global inequalities, on the other hand, could be achieved with additional funding of 50 billion U.S. dollars each year. But in the post-9/11 world, says Worldwatch Institute, achieving the MDGs would also help break the cycle of poverty, infectious disease, and environmental degradation that threatens global security.

"Do we understand that by doing things like reducing poverty, improving water sufficiency, making sure arable land is not so totally exhausted that food security becomes a huge issue, we also address the stability and security of the world's nations?" Michael Renner, a project director for the report remarked. "In Washington, D.C., that's a very hard sell."