A global social response, by President Bachelet

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The world is facing an extraordinarily challenging moment, marked by the emergence of a series of different crises that, together, will require the international community’s maximum attention and efforts. Following the 2007 food crisis, in 2008 we faced the most serious global financial and economic crisis since 1929. Both coincided with the growing realization that mankind must deal with another deeper and larger crisis; climate change.

As a response to these crises, over the past year the international community has seen an unprecedented degree of mobilization aimed at reactivating the international economy and laying the foundation for an international agreement on global warming. In some cases there has been real progress. The G-20 has agreed on a series of global policies whose implementation has succeeded in stopping the economic crisis and jumpstarting the economy. The Copenhagen Summit focused the world’s attention. Although its results might have been much more ambitious, Copenhagen is a milestone, showing that climate change has become central to international politics and that the process towards a new binding agreement must continue

The extraordinary efforts we have witnessed in 2009, however, should not be lead us to sit on our laurels.

Although the economic crisis has begun to subside, some of its social consequences are serious and will persist in our communities for many years to come. In 2009 the number of people living in hunger surpassed one billion, while millions of families have joined the ranks of the poor.

If the international community was able to react as quickly as it did to an economic emergency and spend trillions of dollars to rescue the financial system, surely we should be able to implement a global counter-cyclical social response of a similar magnitude that would allow us to stop the social reversal that is serious threat to the 2015 Millennium Development Goals.

With this in mind, the international community must redouble its efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals, and must seek new forms of financing.

The innovative mechanisms implemented so far are important. Good ideas like taxing airline tickets have led to the distribution of hundreds of millions of dollars worth of medication to hundreds of thousands of children suffering from HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis. The hope is that, with the creation of the Millennium Foundation – financed by customers making voluntary contributions when purchasing airline tickets online – the impact will even be stronger.

Nevertheless, these creative financing mechanisms are far from sufficient if we are to reach the Millennium Development Goals. The latter must be financed mostly by the Official Development Assistance programs of developed countries, which should reach 0,7 % of their respective GDPs by the year 2015, as was committed during the Millennium Summit. However, we know they will not be enough.

This is why today, more than ever, the international debate and the efforts spearheaded by the Leading Group on Innovative Financing for Development are so important and urgent.

The next meeting of the Leading Group, that will take place in Santiago, Chile, on January 28-29, 2010, will therefore be a very relevant gathering. The Government of Chile supports this task and favours a wide ranging and inclusive agenda. We await with great interest new proposals that some countries have formulated.

The meeting in Santiago has the potential, therefore, to be an important event in the continuing struggle against hunger and poverty within the framework of the international crisis. It is a moment that we hope will be part of an even wider international effort to ensure that 2010 becomes a turning point in the struggle to reach the Millennium Development Goals.

Let us not tread on the hopes of millions!

Michelle Bachelet

President of the Republic of Chile

5 January 2010

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