New York, USA, 26 September 2013: Reports outlining the progress of Pacific Island Forum Countries towards achieving the globally agreed Millennium Development Goals and their efforts towards strengthening development coordination were launched last night in New York.
The Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat launched the two Reports at an event jointly hosted by the President of the Republic of Marshall Islands (current Chair of the Pacific Islands Forum) and the Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat.
“The Millennium Development Goals are our promise to the world’s most vulnerable. These Reports are a reflection of the realities of the Pacific people and the challenges faced in improving their lives,” says Tuiloma Neroni Slade, Secretary General of the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat. “The deadline to achieve these goals is 2015 and as we look beyond that, we must ensure that our Pacific people remain at the centre of the development agenda.”
One of the greatest achievements highlighted in the 2013 Pacific Regional Millennium Development Goals Tracking Report is that 10 of the 14 Forum Island Countries are reducing child mortality and the majority of countries are achieving universal primary education.
“However, we are making uneven progress towards improving maternal health, combating major diseases and ensuring environmental sustainability,” says the Honourable Phillip Muller, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of the Marshall Islands. “Our biggest challenge is reducing poverty, and ensuring gender equality and empowering women.”
In the face of these results – Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu are pursuing acceleration strategies to improve their performance.
”There are strong signs of good progress at the country level to strengthen country systems and processes,” says Minister Muller. “As a result, more Forum Island Countries are exerting stronger leadership over their development agenda and engaging more effectively with development partners. The challenge now is for Forum Island Countries to sustain this momentum.”
The 2013 Tracking the Effectiveness of Development Efforts in the Pacific Report highlights that by the end of this year, 13 Pacific Island Forum Countries would have undertaken peer reviews of their country systems of planning, budgeting, public financial and aid management.
“My country has benefited from this process and we are and will make every effort to implement the recommendations of that Peer Review,” said Minister Muller.
The eight international development goals were agreed by 189 United Nations member states in 2000. They include eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, providing every child with at least a primary education, empowering women, reducing child mortality rates and others. They agreed to achieve them by 2015.