Christians Call on World Leaders to Keep Their Promises – MDG Summit 2010

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September 20, 2010

Today has been a day to celebrate the place of faith in development, as agencies gather in New York this week for the UN Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit.

As world leaders started to make their statements about hunger, education, health, conflict and gender, and to discuss how they intend to fulfil the promises made through the MDGs, faith communities gathered to share their experiences of tackling poverty.

Tearfund’s Advocacy Director Paul Cook said: 'It's good to get an opportunity to celebrate the role of faith in so many people's lives, and the way it can bring a unique sense of hope and impetus for change even in the most desperate of circumstances. 

‘The church must be seen as a key player in achieving the Millennium Development Goals, along with the rest of civil society together with governments and business.  Millennium Development Goal Eight talks about a global partnership for development, and the church must be a fundamental part of this partnership.

‘Those of us who work with churches are committed to using the church's strong influence in many of the poorest parts of the world for good, and to support the church to tackle stigma and violence against women wherever we find it.  The church has so much to offer, and is already doing the stuff in many places.'

Following the day’s conference on the role of faith communities in tackling poverty, hundreds of Christians will come together for a worship service in New York City hosted by Micah Challenge, to pray for justice and an end to poverty and to commit the church to being part of the solution to one of the world’s biggest problems.

‘As people of faith, it’s important that we act with integrity and that we keep our promises,’ says Paul Cook.

‘We call upon our world leaders to do the same, and to deliver a concrete action plan for the next five years that will have clear milestones and targets to show in a tangible way how we expect to reduce global poverty by 2015.’

Tearfund’s position on the role of churches in tackling poverty was published last year (2009) in their report In the thick of it, which is available at www.tearfund.org/thickofit

Notes to editors:

The MDG Summit runs from 20 to 22 September in New York.

Tearfund’s MDG Summit asks

Tearfund would like to see an MDG Review Summit that delivers for the world’s poorest people and results in an ambitious five-year rescue plan.  The existing Outcomes Document should be supplemented by country-by-country commitments to be implemented and monitored, with the involvement of civil society, between 2010 and 2015.

In addition, Tearfund believes that churches must be recognised as essential partners in plans to achieve the MDGs.  The MDGs can only be achieved through a global partnership for development, which includes donors, recipients, business, civil society and faith groups.  Churches around the world are often at the forefront of development, providing services such as healthcare and education.

What should the UK Government focus on?

Tearfund believes that the UK Government should ensure that the most off-track MDGs are addressed, including water and sanitation, which is so often forgotten in the debate about child and maternal health.  The Government should put forward proposals to accelerate progress on MDG 6 (to combat HIV, TB and malaria), and should also recognise that addressing environmental issues and the threat of climate change is central to achievement of the other goals.  Tearfund would like to see:

  • World leaders publicly endorsing the Sanitation & Water for All initiative
  • World leaders pledging sufficient finance to replenish the Global Fund to tackle HIV, TB and malaria
  • The UK Government speaking out on climate change, which is often the ‘elephant in the room’ when discussing global poverty, and the need for a global deal through the UNFCCC with additional finance to support mitigation and adaptation in developing countries
  • A robust accountability framework, with civil society participation, to ensure progress on promises made at the summit

The Millennium Development Goals

MDG1 Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

MDG2 Achieve universal primary education

MDG3 Promote gender equality and empower women

MDG4 Reduce child mortality rate

MDG5 Improve maternal health

MDG6 Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

MDG7 Ensure environmental sustainability

MDG8 Develop a global partnership for development

Tearfund is a Christian relief and development agency, and a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).