World leaders have discussed what will replace the current Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) as the focus of world development in their annual General Debate at the UN General Assembly in New York. The theme of the 68th General Assembly is the so-called post-2015 agenda,which aims to set the stage for sustainable development in the decades after the expiry of the 15-year anti-poverty MDGs cycle by the end of 2015.
The issue was approached from different angles by the first 33 speakers as they kicked off the debate yesterday.
Dilma Rousseff, the President of Brazil, which traditionally starts the General Debate, emphasized in her speech that "in the debate on the post-2015 Development Agenda we must focus on the result of the Rio+20."
Horacio Manuel Cartes Jara, the President of neighbouring Paraguay, highlighted the importance of education and stressed that opportunities, not hand-outs, helped countries achieve progress in a dignified manner. "Education is the key," the President said.
Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt also emphasised the role of education: "Educating girls and women leads directly to an increase in a country's economic output," he stressed.
Two African statesmen addressed the causes of under-development. President Joyce Banda of Malawi explained that the problems facing developing countries would not be solved unless it would be possible to create decent incomes at the household level: "The issue that affects population growth, malnutrition, girls' access to education, maternal health are all rooted in poverty."
For her colleague President Ali Bongo of Gabon particular attention would have to be given to the priorities of Africa in a post-2015 agenda: "which would integrate the non-achieved MDGS in the sustainable development goals and which would take account of the specific issues of energy, access to drinking water and sustainable agriculture."
Development does not only benefit developing countries. François Hollande, the President of France pointed out that the best chance for peace and security was through policies supporting development, not least because there were links between poverty and support for terrorism.
Meanwhile Prince Albert of Monaco emphasized his personal commitment in fostering the role of the ocean and sea in the post-2015 development agenda, stressing that climate regulation, food security, energy, tourism, transport, and international trade were all directly or indirectly linked to oceans.
Many speakers commended the success that has already been achieved in reaching many of the MDGs."Without any doubt, Uganda and much of Africa are moving forward robustly," said Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni
Turkish President Abdullah Gül emphasized that relations with Africa was a key priority and its approach to Africa was one of equal partnership: «It is best captured in the African proverb which says: 'If you want to go fast, go alone. But if you want to go far, go together.'», President Gül told the General Assembly.
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