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From goals to achievements

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Almost two thirds of developing countries reached gender parity at the primary school level by 2005. Maternal mortality rates have dropped by a third. As many as 76 developing nations are on track to reach the goal of access to safe drinking water. 

The statistics tell us there is a clear path to achieving the goals.  So in New York, the focus should be on action and the next concrete steps to turning the goals from paper targets to reality. Given a decade has passed, the time for just more talk has also passed. 

We know about the needs of people behind the statistics. Think of the agony of a woman about to give birth not knowing if she and her unborn child will live through the experience. There is also the young girl, working in the fields, yet dreaming of sitting in a classroom.

And think of the farmer, worried about losing some of his crop because he doesn’t have access to adequate weather information.

Action is about saving lives – a Tanzanian woman who hears on the radio about bed nets at the local clinic. It is about girls and boys in classrooms learning.  It is about farmers being able to double or even treble the amount of crop they get from their soil.

We’re all too familiar with the pain inflicted by the global financial crisis, and the steep rises in food, fuel and fertilizer prices.  For the developing world – and for Africa in particular – it was a harsh setback.

But the developing world – and Africa specifically with its billion consumers - can contribute to the recovery.  Helping countries achieve the Millennium Development Goals should also be about a recognition of the economic potential of these countries on the global stage.

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Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala

Director General, World Trade Organization

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