Prime Minister Gordon Brown: Poverty Can be Eradicated
The British Embassy, Washington DC, 7/24/2008

Prime Minister Gordon Brown called on the international community to renew its efforts on the Millennium Development Goals in a speech at the Lambeth Conference in London.

Speaking to assembled bishops and the archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, the prime minister said that poverty can, must and will be eradicated "if we can all work together for change". With adequate technology and knowledge already available "the will to act must now be found", he said.

Addressing the gathering, Archbishop Dr Rowan Williams, also sent the clear message that world leaders must keep their promises on aid and development if global poverty is to be beaten.

Earlier in the conference, Church of England leaders from around the world took part in a walk through London to highlight the need for greater progress against poverty.  The "walk of witness" saw hundreds of Anglican bishops, accompanied by representatives from other faiths, march past the Houses of Parliament to the archbishop of Canterbury's residence at Lambeth Palace.

Prime Minister Brown called on the bishops to return to their countries and press their governments to make three commitments:

  • To work to get 40 million more children in education by 2010 and all children by 2015;
  • To help train 4 million more doctors, nurses and healthworkers and eradicate diseases such as polio and tuberculosis; and
  • To contribute to a $20 billion fund for food aid and investment aimed at boosting agricultural production and creating a "green revolution" in Africa.

The prime minister highlighted the emergency UN session on MDGs scheduled for September 25 as a chance for the world to "redeem the pledges that have been promised".

On current rates, child and infant mortality will not be cut to the proposed 2015 levels until 2050, universal child education will not be achieved until 2115 and poverty will not be halved "in this century or the next", he said.

The archbishop described the event as a "public act of commitment by the Anglican communion and other faith groups to continue to put pressure on those who have the power and resources to help end extreme poverty across the globe." It was also, he said, an opportunity for the church to commit to play its part in developing lasting solutions against poverty.

Faith Groups Crucial for Development
Speaking on July 23 at the Lambeth Conference, International Development Secretary Douglas Alexander emphasized the crucial role played by faith groups in improving the lives of the world's poorest people:

"For centuries faith groups have been working to eradicate poverty, often providing health and education services to the poor. Through their network of followers they have the power to mobilize millions across the world to make poverty history.

"We are pushing to accelerate progress on the Millennium Development Goals and truly form a global partnership for development. In this year of action on the MDGs we must keep the promises we’ve made to the world’s poorest.

"In September, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be hosting a special high-level event on the MDGs, with faith groups, NGOs, government ministers and the private sector, to celebrate successes and agree how the international community can achieve the MDGs."

Notes to editors :

1 GBP = 1.98 USD as of July 24, 2008.

Image copyright: ACNS/Gunn

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