UN urging nations to accelerate anti-poverty work

GENEVA (AP) - The world's nations will have to pick up the pace to meet some of their key anti-poverty targets set for 2015, United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon said on Monday at the outset of a monthlong session of the organisation's main economic arm.

Some major areas will require vastly more effort, Mr Ban told the UN Economic and Social Council, with many nations still struggling to make good on pledges such as cutting child mortality by two-thirds and maternal mortality by three-quarters.

Other areas with lagging progress, he said, include protections for forests and fish stocks, universal access to antiretroviral therapy among people living with HIV, primary education, sanitation and foreign aid.

He did not blame either donors or developing nations for the lagging progress. A UN report issued on Monday, however, noted the impact of an 18-year high in the number of people uprooted by conflict or persecution, and slowing economic growth which means continuing job losses, which hits young people the hardest.

The maternal mortality ratio declined by 47 per cent over the last two decades, while the mortality rate for children under 5 dropped by 41 per cent, from 87 deaths per 1,000 live births in 1990 down to 51 in 2011, according to the report on the anti-poverty Millennium Development Goals that were set for the first 15 years this century and are measured against 1990 statistics.

Since taking office in 2007, Mr Ban has pushed to fulfill the anti-poverty goals. They include cutting extreme poverty by half, ensuring that every child has a primary school education, halting and reversing the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and reducing by half the number of people without access to clean water and basic sanitation.

He also appointed a panel last year to recommend a new development agenda after the goals expire in 2015.