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Ireland to call for Urgent Action on World Hunger at the MDG Summit in New York

The Government will today urge world leaders gathered at the UN Millennium Development Goals Summit in New York to accelerate action to tackle the global hunger crisis.

Speaking at a major roundtable discussion on the opening morning of the MDG summit, Minister of State for Overseas Development, Peter Power TD, will underscore the urgency of achieving Millennium Development Goal 1 – to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger – as statistics show that almost one billion people in the world go hungry every day.

Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin and Minister Peter Power are attending the two-day summit at the United Nations in New York, where world leaders will review progress towards achieving the eight Millennium Development Goals by 2015. Minister Martin will deliver the national statement to the Summit on Tuesday.

Speaking from New York today ahead of the summit, Minister Power, said:

“With just five years to the target date for achievement of the goals, this summit is an important test of our commitment to the world’s poorest people. It is crucial that we candidly examine the uneven nature of our progress and the challenges we have yet to overcome.

“I will focus strongly on the importance of eradicating hunger, given our own history of famine and our long-standing role as advocates for the millions of people who suffer its terrible effects. The eight MDGs are interconnected, but the hunger crisis lies firmly at the heart of the challenges facing families and communities across the developing world.

“We must acknowledge that failure to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger will impede progress across the other goals. It will perpetuate the cycle of poverty for generations to come: Hunger leaves families more vulnerable to illness; seriously hampers people’s capacity to earn a living and forces children to drop out of school. A young child who is stunted physically and intellectually because of hunger can never realise his or her full potential.

“I firmly believe that if we take a comprehensive approach to tackling hunger – which incorporates agriculture, health and social supports - we can generate progress across a range of MDG’s including maternal mortality, education, employment and gender equality. This must be our first step on the road to 2015”

Minister Power will address the roundtable on “Poverty, Hunger and Gender Equality” at the United Nations this morning. The forum will be attended by representatives of 50 countries, including Heads of State and Government, and representative of the United Nations, private sector and civil society.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin T.D. and Hillary Clinton, Secretary of State of the United States, will co-host a high-level political event on addressing world hunger in New York.

The event, 1,000 Days: Change a Life, Change the Future Partnering to Reduce Child Undernutrition, will be attended by world leaders, international organizations, civil society and the private sector. It is designed to highlight action to reduce child under-nutrition, focusing on programmes targeted at the 1,000 day window of opportunity, the period beginning with a woman’s pregnancy and continuing until a child is two years old.

Minister of State for Overseas Development, Peter Power and USAID Administrator Rajiv Shah will moderate a round-table discussion as part of the meeting, which will be attended by 275 guests.

Note for editors:

Irish Aid is the Government’s programme for overseas development. It is an integral part of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

• The MDG summit takes place at the United Nations from September 20 to 22.
• The eight Millennium Development Goals were agreed in September 2000 by the United Nations. The target date for the achievement is 2015. The MDG Summit in New York is designed to review progress towards their attainment.

The Goals are:

  • Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
  • Achieve universal primary education
  • Promote gender equality and empower women
  • Reduce child mortality
  • Improve maternal health
  • Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases
  • Ensure environmental sustainability
  • Develop a global partnership for development