Foreign Minister Rudd presents Australia's statement to UN MDG summit

Uploaded by AusAIDvideo on 23.09.2010

KEVIN RUDD: Mr President, Secretary-General,
distinguished delegates.
As nations, we have a responsibility to do that which we say we will do.
A responsibility to keep our promises to fellow member states.
A responsibility to turn our commitments,
solemnly given in this great chamber,
into concrete actions that change the lives of the poorest of the poor
across the world.
A decade ago, we, the nations of the world, assembled here
to offer the world's poor a fairer share in the world's future.
A decade later, we gather once again to take stock.
To celebrate that which we have done,
but, also, honestly, to admit where we have failed.
I want to begin with a story of two children.
The first is a young girl I met on Monday here in New York.
Her name is Nthabiseng. She was born in Soweto.
Nthabiseng is a beautiful little girl with the brightest of smiles.
She's 12 years old, but when she was 7, her mother died.
Normally, this would have consigned her to a life of poverty.
But Nthabiseng was determined to get an education
and she said, and I quote her,
"When children are stopped from going to school,
"they are losing their future and they are losing their tomorrow."
Now she is doing very well at school and has a very bright future.
Children like Nthabiseng will benefit from the UN's One Goal program
that seeks to make education a reality
for all children in the world, not just some.
The second story is of a young boy, who has never been to New York.
He, too, lost his mother.
She died giving birth to him.
His family ekes out a living
in the slums of one of the world's developing mega cities,
not far from the skyscrapers of its booming financial district.
This little boy's days are spent not in school,
but in the traffic of the city,
begging for spare change at car windows when cars stop at the lights.
We have all seen him in our travels.
I haven't given him a name.
He has thousands of names.
And, right now, he is without hope.
Why do I tell these stories?
Because they are the human faces of what happens
when the world acts with compassion and when it does not.
The first story inspires us to further action.
The second should make us determined to act for all.
At the turn of the millennium,
we, the member states of the United Nations,
made a compact with one another.
We said we would put our shoulders to the wheel
to lift a billion people out of poverty.
And we said we should be measured
by these Millennium Development Goals in 2015 -
to halve poverty and hunger,
to give every girl and boy the chance of a good education,
to make big cuts in the number of women dying in childbirth
and children dying from easily preventable diseases,
to promote gender equality and to empower women,
to combat HIV/AIDS, to ensure global sustainability,
and to develop a global partnership for development.
10 years on, it's time to reflect on the report card of our progress.
The truth is we are not yet even on track
to register even the barest of pass marks.
Successes in some areas - poverty reduction and school enrolment -
must be weighed against the failures in other areas,
including maternal health and child nutrition.
Our failures, of course, have vocal critics.
Those who say that international aid does not work, that it is wasted,
that it is poorly managed, that there is just no point.
This is not Australia's view.
Our view is that the richest among us have a profound responsibility
to help the poorest members of the human family out of poverty.
Poverty is degrading.
Poverty is dehumanising.
Poverty destroys human dignity.
As the Secretary-General reminded us in his report 'Keeping the Promise',
the MDGs are an expression of basic human rights.
The rights of everyone to good health, education and shelter.
I believe that these truths are in fact self-evident.
But to those who doubt that there is any self-evident truth alive
in this concept of social justice,
we should consider this.
Eliminating extreme poverty boosts global growth for all.
It grows the global cake.
It grows trade and investment.
It grows jobs.
It acts against political and religious extremism
and radicalisation.
It builds peace.
It enhances stability
and it reduces dangerous, irregular people movements around the world.
In other words,
eliminating extreme poverty is good for the entire human family
and it is good for all nations.
As members of the family of nations, we cannot stand idly by
while 70 million children are unable to attend school.
We cannot stand idly by
when hundreds of thousands of women die through childbirth -
an estimated 358,000 in the year before last.
Nor can we stand idly by
while infectious diseases cut a swathe of devastation
through the communities of the poor.
And the chilling fact is that more than half of the 800 million people
in the least developed countries of the world
are still living in extreme poverty.
Let us be honest.
Donor countries have made commitments that they have not honoured.
For example,
less than half of the funding pledged to Africa five years ago,
in the Gleneagles declaration of the G8, has not been delivered.
The answer is not
to push our commitments even further into the future.
Nor is it simply to sweep it all quietly
under the international carpet.
The answer is to do that which we say that we will do.
To honour our commitments,
even when the global economic environment is hard,
because for the poorest of the poor, it is even harder.
This is what Australia seeks to do.
Several years ago, halfway to the 2015 deadline,
we in Australia saw that our efforts were not sufficient.
We realised we had to do much more.
By 2015, on current projections, our aid budget will double,
just as it doubled between 2005 and 2010.
This will make Australia the fastest growing donor country in the OECD.
And we have maintained our commitment
despite the impacts of the financial crisis,
including a 200% increase in aid to Africa alone.
The Australian Government, under Prime Minister Gillard,
puts the MDGs at the heart of our aid program.
As Australia's aid program doubles over the next five years,
we will increase our support to these least developed countries
through the MDGs.
Today, I'm committing Australia
to working towards providing 0.15% of our gross national income
in aid to these least developed countries
in line with international targets.
Across our entire overseas development assistance program,
Australia expects now, between now and 2015,
to allocate $5 billion to education,
$1.6 billion to women's and children's health,
$1.8 billion to food and security,
$1.2 billion for action on climate change
and adaptation and mitigation in developing countries,
including the 39 small island developing states,
who are the most exposed to, but the least responsible for,
this great threat to our planet - climate change.
Australia will also work
to open world markets to least developed countries
to enable private commerce, trade and investment
to help lift these countries out of poverty.
All of which is made possible by necessary governance measures
to provide transparency and accountability.
These are the necessary stepping stones to development.
I began with a story of two children -
one with opportunities and one without.
The Australian people, by instinct,
want to see that all the little ones of the world are given a fair go.
Through their generous private donations
and through the official aid program paid for by taxes,
Australians want to provide opportunities
for all the peoples of the world to live a decent life.
Australian NGOs are active across the world -
NGOs including World Vision, Oxfam, Caritas, ChildFund,
Plan International, the Red Cross and the Oaktree Foundation.
Let me conclude by quoting a third child.
This time, a young Australian.
A young girl, aged 10 years old.
She wrote to me with the following,
"I think kids in other countries have the same right as kids here.
"Yes, that's right.
"Kids everywhere should have the same things that we have,
"like good teachers, doctors, houses and clean water."
The governments of the world cannot let down the children of the world.
If we want to reform this great institution, these United Nations,
this parliament of humankind,
we should not begin with another grand plan.
We should simply begin by doing that which we say we will do.
We, in Australia, want to do just that.
We want to play our part in bringing these Millennium Development Goals
into reality.
To make a fundamental difference to the world's poor
and to make a fundamental difference to the future of all humankind.