Gillard to co-chair UN group tackling poverty
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has appointed Prime Minister Julia Gillard to co-chair a group of global leaders and celebrities making a “final push” for implementation of the millennium development goals by the target date of 2015.
He said Ms Gillard’s “vision, leadership and commitment” had caused him to choose her to lead the group, which includes singer Bob Geldof, CNN founder Ted Turner, UN special adviser Jeffrey Sachs and Graca Machel, formerly a minister in Mozambique and also wife of former South African president Nelson Mandela.
The goals include alleviating poverty, increasing access to clean water, food and education and for developed countries to meet targets on foreign aid spending, although Australia had to delay meeting the aid target for one year in this year’s budget as part of its push to return to surplus.
After the announcement, she and Mr Ban sped through the crowded conference grounds in a golf buggy to their next public event – the launch of Korea’s Global Green Growth Institute, to which Australia has pledged $15 million. Scores of golf buggies are being used to ferry VIPs around the huge site.
Arriving in Rio, Ms Gillard conceded the formal agreement to be reached at the summit will not “make an indelible mark on world history”.
But she said it was still important that world leaders meet to put “a spotlight” on sustainable development goals and on the need for regulation on the world’s deep sea oceans.
“I am not going to stand here before you and pretend what is in this [agreement] is going to make some indelible mark on the world’s history … this is a consensus-driven process and obviously everyone’s views get put into the melting pot,” Ms Gillard said.
Ms Gillard flew overnight from the G20 conference in Mexico, arriving in Rio in time for the official opening ceremony yesterday.
Her first public event was to launch a global indigenous network, to link up indigenous communities with expertise on land and sea management.
She said the network, backed by Norway, New Zealand and Brazil, was seeking more partners from across the world.
The leaders in Rio are expected to endorse a 49-page non-binding agreement on sustainable development and poverty eradication, already settled by their negotiators.
The fact that agreement was reached at all was hailed as a great success by Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, but environment groups and other observers said the document had been watered down so much it was almost meaningless.
As expectations about the conference outcome lowered and the global economic crisis deepened, the number of leaders attending also fell.
After earlier saying more than 100 world leaders would be attending, organisers yesterday said they were expecting 56 heads of state and 31 heads of government.