Thinking global, living local: Voices in a globalized world

The United Nations General Assembly 2010

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The UN General Assembly started in New York yesterday, 20th September, with several world leaders talking about their commitments to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon said that, “despite the obstacles, despite the skepticism, despite the fast-approaching deadline of 2015, the Millennium Development Goals are achieveable.”

The IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn spoke about economic crisis impact on tackling poverty and President of World Bank, Robert B. Zoellick talked about the success of the International Development Association, a fund for the poorest.

Apart from agreeing that Climate change and global warming were issues, that wastes of war took away from social sector resources, and the need for countries to work towards peace, speakers also focused in on their regions and issues which were closest to them.

President Sarkozy of France said that France had a commitment to eradicate poverty and it truly believed in Africa. He also said that France would replenish the resources of the Global Fund to fight Tuberculosis and Malaria by another 20 percent. It already gives 300 million Euros and he asked that other countries follow Frances example in eliminating malaria in Africa, which kills a million children in Africa each year.

The Jordanian King Abdullah emphasized the need for peace to fight poverty.

“A burden faces development across our region: the lack of regional peace. When warfare and violence divert resources away from social needs and economic growth, economies and community life are undermined and poverty and frustration grow.”

Shimon Perez had a few words for Iranian President Ahmedinajad calling him a “living declaration against the UN Charter.” He said that there was “enough room for friendship in the Middle East” if governments were willing and committed to work towards it. “ A hungry world will never be peaceful,” he said. “A terrorized world will never be governable.”

Bolivia’s President Evo Morales said that the “commitment that developed countries have to give just 0.7 percent of their GDP for official development aid is not a gift. It is a part of their debt” [to poorer nations].

“We will not be able to meet MDG if we don’t put an end to this inequality and this unfair distribution which is the main cause of our not being able to meet the MDG’s.”

Meanwhile Bhutan’s Prime Minister, Lyonpo Jigmi Thinley, surprised the audience with his proposal for a new MDG – “Happiness.” Since happiness is the ultimate desire of every citizen it must be the purpose of development to create enabling conditions for happiness, he said.

According to him enough thoughts and knowledge have been generated in recent years by those who care to convince us that humanity needs to get off the perilous path on which the wrongful use of GDP has set it since its inception in the 1930’s. It does not demand much imagination and intelligence, indeed, to understand that endless pursuit of material growth in a world with limited natural resources within a delicately balanced ecology is just not sustainable – that is dangerous and stupid, he said.

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Sonam Ongmo Twitter: SonamOngmoSonam

Bhutanese writer committed to social justice. Regional Editor for Asia Future Challenges Writer with Global Voices (citizen media) Board member of Bhutan Foundation Communications Consultant for National Environmental Commission of Bhutan Communications Officer for Save the Children Bhutan Journalist with Bhutan's national newspaper Kuensel