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Save the Children urges UN Panel to adopt plan to end extreme poverty within 20 years

A United Nations panel should use its influence by adopting a new plan to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, Save the Children says.

The High Level Panel – co-chaired by Indonesian president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, and British Prime Minister David Cameron – will meet later this month to discuss a new system to replace the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which expire in 2015.

Save the Children’s new report Ending Poverty in Our Generation outlines an ambitious new development framework which, it says, can help all countries end extreme poverty in the next 20 years. This is the first time that an organisation proposes specific new targets to replace the MDGs.

“We have an historic opportunity to put an end to the devastating cycle of poverty. By committing to these ambitious but achievable new targets, we really can become the generation that ends extreme poverty forever,” said Save the Children International’s Chief Executive, Jasmine Whitbread.

The MDGs were eight international targets adopted by every United Nations member state in 2000 with commitments to tackle global ills such as extreme poverty, child deaths and a lack of free education. Progress has been mixed, with some developing countries on track to achieve all targets and others looking unlikely to meet any.

Ms Whitbread added: “The Millennium Development Goals have lifted 600 million people out of poverty and helped 56 million more children to go to school. But there were gaps in that framework that must be addressed and we call on the UN Panel to commit to new targets to secure a prosperous, sustainable future for the world's poorest children.”

The report says the end of extreme poverty is now in sight because of remarkable progress made in improving the lives of millions over the last two decades. For example, the number of under-five deaths worldwide declined from nearly 12 million in 1990 to under 7 million in 2011, and an additional 56 million children enrolled in primary school from 1999 to 2009.

The report warns of three major threats to the process:

-     A failure to tackle inequality in the framework will mean progress will be too slow and some groups will be left behind.

-     A desire to cram too much into the framework leading to a lowest common denominator outcome.

-     A fragmented and already fractious political process at UN level. A copy of “Ending Poverty in our Generation – Save the Children’s Vision for a Post 2015 Framework” is available for download.