What will it take to achieve the Millennium Development Goals? A lot. Economies need to grow to provide jobs and more incomes for poor people. Health and education systems must deliver services to everyone, men and women, rich and poor. Infrastructure has to work and be accessible to all. And policies need to empower people to participate in the development process. While success depends on the actions of developing countries, which must direct their own development, there is also much that rich countries must do to help. This is what Goal 8 is for – it complements the first seven.

Goal 8 calls for an open, rule-based trading and financial system, more generous aid to countries committed to poverty reduction, and relief for the debt problems of developing countries. It draws attention to the problems of the least developed countries and of landlocked countries and small island developing states, which have greater difficulty competing in the global economy. It also calls for cooperation with the private sector to address youth unemployment, ensure access to affordable, essential drugs, and make available the benefits of new technologies.

Providing effective development assistance

Aid is one way for rich countries to transfer resources to developing countries and is most effective in reducing poverty when it goes to poor countries with good policies and sound governance. Between 1990 and 2001 aid flows had been falling, both in comparison with the size of donor country economies and in nominal terms. In 2002, however, net official development assistance rose to $58.3 billion.

Increasing aid flows

After falling throughout most of the last decade, aid levels rose in 2002, and commitments made during or following the International Conference on Financing for Development held in Monterrey, Mexico in 2002 would increase the real level of aid by $18.6 billion dollars more in 2006. This is a substantial increase, but it will fall short of the $30-50 billion extra needed to meet the identified needs of the poorest countries to set them on the path to achieving the Millennium Development Goals.

Types of aid

Aid can take many different forms, and the official development assistance is only one of them. In fact, it is not even the largest source: more than half the total aid flow comes from private sources. Aid can also be categorized into grants or loans. Grants have always been the major form of official development assistance, but the tendency is even stronger in recent years.

Aid per capita

Official development assistance and net official aid record the actual international transfer by the donor of financial resources or of goods or services valued at the cost to the donor, less any repayments of loan principal during the same period. Grants by official agencies of the members of the Development Assistance Committee are included, as are loans with a grant element of at least 25 percent, and technical cooperation and assistance. Aid per capita includes both ODA and official aid, and is calculated by dividing total aid by the midyear population estimate.

The Monterrey Consensus

In March 2002 leaders from developing and high-income countries came together in Monterrey, Mexico, to discuss new strategies for attacking global poverty. Rich countries made new commitments that would increase official development assistance in real terms by about $16 billion a year by 2006:

• Members of the European Union: to strive to raise development assistance to at least 0.33 percent of gross national income (GNI) by 2006, with the EU average rising to 0.4 percent or more of GNI.
• United States: to achieve a $5 billion increase (almost 50 percent) over current levels by 2006.
• Canada: to double its aid by 2010.
• Japan: to reduce its development assistance budget in fiscal 2002 and 2003 as part of necessary fiscal consolidation.
• Norway: to increase its development assistance to 1 percent of GNI by 2005.
• Switzerland: to increase its development assistance to 0.4 percent of GNI by 2010.
• Australia: to increase its development assistance by 3 percent in real terms in 2002–03

Increasing market access

Tariffs and quotas on textile exports to high-income countries cost developing countries 27 million jobs. And rich countries’ agricultural subsidies, more than $300 billion a year in 2002, hurt growth in the agricultural sector, where many of the poorest people work. The World Bank estimates that full liberalization of trade could increase growth enough to lift 300 million more people out of poverty by 2015.

Easing the burden of debt

The Debt Initiative for Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPCs) provides debt relief to the world’s poorest and most heavily indebted countries. As of March 11, 2004, commitments of debt relief to the 27 countries, which had reached decision points, totaled $52 billion, compared to $34.5 billion that had been committed to 22 countries at end-2000.

Growing youth unemployment

Youth are being badly affected by the slowdown of the global economy through both growing unemployment and more precarious forms of employment. Youth employment has become a political priority for countries at all level of development, but actions have been lagging behind. The International Labour Organization (ILO) estimates that around 74 million young men and women were unemployed throughout the world in 2002. This means that young people account for about 41 per cent of the global 180 million persons classified as unemployed. Globally, the number of young unemployed rose by 16 million between 1995 and 2002 and this negative trend has been particularly steep in the most recent years. In most regions, youth unemployment rate has deteriorated since 1995. In Asia and in Latin America and the Caribbean, the rate has been steadily increasing since 1997. The condition has always been severe in Middle East and North Africa, where estimated 26% of the youth population is unemployed in 1999. Transition economies and Sub-Saharan Africa have seen some improvement since 1998, but in the former the level is still very high – 18% in 1999.

Information and communication technology for development

Effective communication among individuals and groups involved in the development process is not possible without the necessary infrastructure. Giving people the means to exchange their experiences and to learn from each other, will guarantee a higher return on investment and avoid problems such as duplication and lack of information. The use of ICT also has many other positive development effects. It can make governments more transparent and therefore reduce corruption and improve governance. It can help people in rural areas to find out about market prices and sell their products at a better and fairer value. It can also overcome traditional barriers to better education by making textbooks available online and opening the door to e-learning.

Latin America and the Caribbean leads the developing regions in personal computers with more than 60 per 1,000 people

Access to Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), especially mobile services and the Internet, has grown rapidly since 1990. Latin America and the Caribbean leads the developing regions in access to personal computers, with almost 67 per 1,000 people – 12 times more than in 1990. Europe and Central Asia, as well as the Middle East and North Africa, also made a huge progress in the last decade. Still, the difference in quantity and quality of telecommunication services varies from country to country, and even within a country. In order for all individuals to effectively participate in and benefit from the global information society, this “digital divide” has to be bridged

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