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Impact of global financial crisis on MDGs

By Dharam Shourie in United Nations
October 24, 2008 15:40 IST
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UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon held parlays with the UN Development Programme (UNDP) chief and five other eminent economists to discuss the impact of the global financial crisis on the agency's efforts to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The 90-minute meeting at UN Headquarters focused on prospects for the world economy, and how the present financial crisis will affect emerging economies and those of the least developed countries (LDCs), a UN spokesperson said.

After the meeting, Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz backed Washington for expanding the scope of the meet beyond G-7 industrialised countries to include developing nations especially India, China and Brazil but said the venue was wrong.

Talking to mediapersons, Stiglitz, who won Nobel prize in 2001 and is now Columbia University professor, said it would have been better if meeting was organised at the UN headquarters so that voices of all countries can be heard as all 192-member States had been affected by the financial crisis.

Ban who has been invited to the Nov 15 Summit will have to represent the views of developing nations who would not be there, Stiglitz said.

Stiglitz has been appointed by the president of the UN General Assembly Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann to chair a high-level task force to review the global financial system.

The task force is expected to recommend, among other things, how to reform the international financial institutions to enable them to meet the challenges of the current century.

Meanwhile, UN officials are expressing concern that the financial crisis might lead to cut in aid to the developing nations which in turn could adversely impact MDGs which aim at eliminating or drastically reducing several economic and social ills.

Diplomats say Ban is expected to press the rich to fulfill their commitments to the developing countries, something he has repeatedly emphasised.

Ban, UNDP Administrator Kemal Dervis and the economists also discussed financing for development, the international reserve system, trade, the regulatory role that multilateral institutions can play and reforms of the existing institutions.

The participating economists were Stiglitz, Kenneth Rogoff of Harvard University; Dani Rodrik of the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard; Nancy Birdsall, President of the Centre for Global Development, a think tank; and Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at Columbia.

The UN spokesperson said the November 15 meeting of world leaders in Washington, convened by US President George W Bush, was also discussed at talks, as was the upcoming conference in Doha at the end of next month that will review progress on financing for development.

Ban in a speech delivered earlier this week at Harvard, said, "Now more than ever we must be bold. In these times of crisis, when we are tempted to look inward, it is precisely the time when we must move pursuit of the common good to the top of the agenda."

"While recently we have heard much in this country about how problems on Wall Street are affecting innocent people on Main Street, we need to think more about those people around the world with no streets," he added.

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