Uneven progress and gaps slows MDG progress in the Pacific

24 October 2012 (Suva, Fiji) – Unless focused action is taken, many of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets are expected to be missed in the Pacific by 2015.

 Mr Knut Ostby, United Nations Resident Coordinator and United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Resident Representative made this comment while opening the MDG Acceleration Framework Pacific Methodological Workshop in Suva yesterday. The workshop was attended by over 50 representatives from government and civil society from Fiji, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu as well as development partners.

“Although important progress has been made on many of the MDGs, worldwide as well as in the Pacific it is equally clear that progress has been uneven and significant gaps exist,” Mr Ostby said.

At the 42nd Pacific Islands Forum in New Zealand last year, accelerating the achievement of the MDGs was an issue that Pacific Forum Leaders identified as requiring attention. In a joint statement with the Secretary-General of the United Nations, Mr Ban Ki-moon and the Pacific Forum Leaders said that they had “discussed ways of enhancing the work of the United Nations system in the region to support these efforts, including the possibility of utilizing the MDG Acceleration Framework to help identify national priorities for action in each Pacific island country.”

“It is very important that we contextualize international goals and programmes such as the MDGs and Education for All to ensure that they are compatible with, relevant and meaningful in the multiple contexts of the Pacific in which they are applied,” said the Honourable Dr ‘Ana Maui Taufe’ulungaki, Tonga’s Minister for Education and Training during the workshop opening.

“We, the peoples of the Pacific, must first of all know and understand our own Pacific values, beliefs, assumptions, knowledge, processes and practices, before we make attempts to contextualize development goals. The instruments that we develop and apply will, then, become relevant and meaningful,” said Dr Taufe’ulungaki.

The MDG Acceleration Framework will assist participants from Fiji, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu to develop a plan to fast track the achievement of specific MDG targets that have been identified as lagging behind.

“The thrust of the MDG Acceleration Framework is built around focusing efforts and resources on the highest priorities at the national level, identifying challenges and bottlenecks and devising innovative solutions to address the identified challenges and bottlenecks,” Mr Ostby said.

Mr Ostby concluded by saying that “with three years remaining to 2015 deadline, there is an urgent need for a more concerted effort to  accelerate progress at the national level. This is a challenging task, but we strongly believe it could be achieved.”

The MDG Acceleration Framework is an innovative approach designed to help countries identify and resolve barriers to eradicating extreme poverty and achieving sustainable development. It provides a systematic way for countries to develop their own action plan based on existing plans and processes to pursue their MDG priorities. It also helps governments to focus on disparities and inequalities, two of the major causes of uneven progress, by responding to the needs of the vulnerable.

-Press Release UNDP