This week, with the news of the U.S. financial crisis dominating the headlines, the United Nations General Assembly opened its annual meeting. The threat to the entire global economy has created alarm and fear that those in poverty, both in the U.S. and around the world, will be left behind and forgotten. World leaders, including U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, expressed deep concern that the crisis would threaten efforts to fight global poverty. On today's U.N. agenda is a review of the Millennium Development Goals to be achieved by 2015. This ambitious agenda includes cutting global poverty in half, reducing infant mortality, reducing the ratio of women dying in childbirth, ensuring primary education, promoting gender equality, combating HIV/AIDS and malaria, and a setting of benchmarks for environmental sustainability and development.
We already know that progress is mixed, and that the growing cost of food and fuel coupled with the economic crisis threatens that progress. The goal of developed countries spending 0.7 percent of their GNP on aid has not been met by most countries. The New York Times noted this week that
The aggregate aid budget of the most developed nations amounts to 0.28 percent of their gross national income