Dáil Éireann - Volume 648 - 26 February, 2008
Written Answers. - Overseas Development Aid.
Deputy Jan O’Sullivan Deputy Jan O’Sullivan
Deputy Jan O’Sullivan asked the Minister for Foreign Affairs the work the Government  is doing to ensure that the millennium development goals are achieved by the target year of 2015; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [8079/08]
Deputy Michael Kitt Deputy Michael Kitt
Deputy Michael Kitt: The eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), adopted in the year 2000 as part of the commitments undertaken by Heads of Government at the Millennium Summit, represent a framework for international economic and social development up to the year 2015. As such they are at the heart of the Government’s work in our development cooperation programme. Irish Aid’s focus on reducing poverty and supporting the provision of basic services to the poorest people is wholly consistent with the MDGs.
The latest MDG progress report, issued in July 2007, gave us a snapshot of the progress achieved at the midpoint of the 2015 MDG target date, broken down by goal and by region. Overall, there has been good progress on some targets, but the geographical disparities are large. While there has been progress towards the goals globally since 2000, largely due to advances in China and other Asian countries, Africa is lagging behind on most indicators. This is attributed to a combination of institutional weakness, civil and international conflict, and funding shortfalls.
In recognition of these problems Ireland continues to focus around 85 percent of its bilateral country assistance on sub-Saharan Africa and Irish Aid will continue to expand its assistance to the region as our aid programme grows. Much of this funding is devoted to areas which are key to achieving the MDGs. These include combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other communicable diseases, assisting countries in emergency situations and in reconstruction following conflict, and continuing our programme of support to education, basic health services, water and sanitation in the countries where we have established cooperation programmes. We also provide substantial support to the work of Irish non-governmental organisations in the development field, as well as through the major UN bodies such as UNICEF, UNDP and the High Commission for Refugees.
Ireland is supportive of all international initiatives which address these geographical disparities, such as the MDG Africa Steering Group convened by the UN Secretary General last September. This brought together high level representatives of the African Union, European Union, African Development Bank, Islamic Development Bank, IMF and World Bank, who will meet regularly to examine how to strengthen Africa’s efforts to meet the Goals.
A further initiative aimed at measuring progress towards the MDGs has been taken by the British Prime Minister Gordon Brown who has proposed that a Heads of State/Government meeting take place at the UN in September 2008 to revitalise the pledges made in 2000 and provide the impetus for more intensive efforts in the period up to 2015. The Prime Minister wrote to the Taoiseach about his proposal and the Taoiseach has replied indicating Ireland’s strong support.
Ireland participates fully in efforts to achieve the MDGs. As set out in the White Paper on Irish Aid, the Millennium Development Goals are the overarching framework for our overseas aid programme. By delivering on the commitment to reach the 0.7% UN target for development funding by 2012, Ireland is also seen as being at the forefront of their implementation internationally.
Dáil Éireann 648 Written Answers. Overseas Development Aid.