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09 April 2013

1,000 day call to meet poverty goals

1,000 day call to meet poverty goals

With only 1,000 days left, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby joined calls on G8 countries to fulfil their promises and deliver on the Millennium Development Goals. Financial crisis is not an excuse for missing the goals, say religious leaders.

An open letter, published in the Financial Times and signed by more than 60 religious leaders from around the world, reminds governments of their commitments, including spending 0.7 per cent of national income on aid.

Friday, 5 April, marked 1,000 days until the deadline for completion of the global goals to halve extreme global poverty by 2015.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) were agreed by 182 nations in 2000 and promised to halve hunger, get all children into school, provide clean water and sanitation for millions, tackle diseases like malaria and greatly improve maternal health.

As part of the UN Millennium Declaration, nations around the world promised to "spare no effort to free our fellow men, women and children from the abject and dehumanizing conditions of extreme poverty, to which more than a billion of them are currently subjected".

The Rt Revd Nick Baines, Bishop of Bradford, said: "With only 1,000 days left to achieve the Millennium Development Goals set by the UN, it is imperative that the G8 heads of government set the pace and do not allow this to fail."

Joel Edwards, international director of Micah Challenge, said this week: "Meeting the Millennium Development Goals is possible. Even in hard times we should not waiver from our promise to the poorest people in the world. If we tackle waste and corruption, we could free up billions, more than enough to meet the MDGs."

The letter talks about the great amount still to be done and urges a greater transparency surrounding taxes that cause developing countries to lose out on wealth they are creating. It is hoped that G8 leaders will take action to address poverty and not use financial crisis as an excuse.

"Meeting the remaining targets, while challenging, is possible – but only if governments do not waver from the moral and political commitments made over a decade ago," the letter states.

"The number of people living in extreme poverty has been halved ahead of time and 14,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990. Yet one in eight people still go to bed hungry every night and more than two million die of malnutrition each year."

The letter continues: "Reaching a purposeful consensus on these areas won't be easy. But, if the political will and moral leadership is forthcoming, this year's G8 could help to create an environment that encourages the conditions for inclusive, equitable and sustainable economic growth – conditions that are desperately needed if we are to realise the MDGs and even greater things beyond."

Other signatories include the Reverend Jonathan Edwards, general secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain, the Reverend Roberta Rominger, general secretary of the United Reformed Church, and the Reverend Dr Mark Wakelin, president of the Methodist Conference.

Signatories and supporters have been tweeting #1000DaysToGo to help raise awareness and remind G8 leaders on their responsibility to fulfil the MDGs.

The full text of the letter can be read online at the Financial Times and the copy of the letter on the archbishop's website