The Arab Region can achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 through following suitable economic and social policies
Egypt __ The League of Arab States will launch “The Third Arab Report on the Millennium Development Goals 2010 and the Impact of the Global Economic Crises” today during the opening session of the 30th Session of the Arab Ministers of Social Affairs (12-13 December 2010) taking place at the headquarters of the League of Arab States Secretariat in Cairo.
This report reviews the progress made in the Arab region towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) after ten years since the declaration of the Millennium Development MDGs at the world summit in 2000 and with only 5 years left until the target date of achieving them in 2015. This report was prepared in collaboration between the members of the Thematic Working Group (TWG) on MDGs in the Arab region which include the different UN agencies working in the region, with the ESCWA being the convener of the TWG. The report comes in the context of close coordination between United Nations Regional Offices and the League of Arab States in all fields, especially those related to achieving the MDGs
Performance marked by a lot of variations- the first section of the report studies the region’s performance in each goal of the MDGs separately and the corresponding policy recommendations that aim at improving the performance towards achieving the MDGs.
With regard to the first MDG that deals with reducing extreme poverty and hunger, Arab countries are on track with respect to halving the proportion of people living below $1.25-a-day. However, the picture changes when considering national poverty lines whereby the Arab region did not experience significant progress in reducing income poverty, which is concentrated in rural areas. Moreover, labor markets in most Arab countries are characterized by a wide spread of unemployment. Unemployment is particularly evident among the youth. The report also points to serious concerns from the increase in hunger, particularly in the Least Developed as a result of rising food prices and food insecurity.
With regard to achieving universal primary education- MDG 2-the Arab region has seen improvement in net enrolment rates, literacy rate of young adults aged 15-24 and gender parity in primary schooling. Despite this, some Arab countries have shown signs of regression in terms of achieving education .
With regard to MDG 3, women’s economic and political participation remains very limited in the Arab region. Additionally, women’ representation in national parliaments still remains low, despite the fact that some governments have adopted some temporary measures, such as the quota system, to allow more space for women’s political participation.
The report shows that most Arab countries are on track for achieving MDG 4 which aims at reducing child mortality rates. Under-five mortality rates have declined by half in the Arab region over the period 1990-2008. But the Arab LDCs are still off track whereby they exhibit the highest child mortality rates in the region. The report also concludes that universal immunization coverage will not be achieved by 2015 without addressing problems of accessibility to vaccines, low health facility coverage, suboptimal delivery strategies and unavailability of services in conflict areas and for mobile and displaced populations.
There are great variations in reducing maternal mortality rates (MDG 5) among countries of the region – ranging from levels below 10 per 100,000 live births in some GCC countries to around 1,600 per 100,000 in Somalia. The LDCs indicate a worsening situation and are unlikely to fulfill MDG5 other countries made significant achievements in reducing maternal mortality.
With regard to goal 6 which aims at Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, although the prevalence of HIV/AIDS continues to be relatively low in Arab countries, although risks and vulnerability is high amongst specific population groups and locations. Malaria has been successfully eliminated in the majority of Arab countries .
With respect to MDG7, all Arab Countries share, in varying degrees, the major challenge of improving environmental governance and integrating environmental resources management into poverty reduction strategies and national development plans. The Arab region as a whole only contributes less than 5% of global carbon dioxide emissions, but the impacts of climate change on the region are of major concern to policy makers who recognize that the Arab region will be negatively impacted by climate change.
In the last three decades, rapid population growth and the acceleration of social – economic development in the Arab countries were linked to significant increases in the demand for water.The proportion of population receiving access to improved drinking water sources is still low.
MDG8 seeks to develop partnerships for international development. With regard to providing development assistance, Arab Donors have played a significant role in providing assistance whereby they have often either reached or exceeded the target of providing 0.7 per cent of GDP as aid, which was not met by most International Development Assistance Committee countries. ODA to the region was also characterized by being highly erratic and was actually lower, in real per capita terms and a significant portion of this aid remained either tied or partially tied.
The Impact of the Global Economic Crises on achieving the MDGs in the Arab Region__ the second section of the report provides detailed analysis of the impact of the Finance, Food and Fuel (FFF) crises on development in the Arab region while stressing on the impact of these crises on achieving the MDGs. The report draws into attention that the achievement of economic diversification is a major challenge in the Arab region. Reducing the risks resulting from external shocks require greater diversity of trading partners, regional flexibility, and product diversity. The international financial crisis and its repercussion on the real economy worldwide have also translated into lower Foreign Direct Investments Inflows into Arab countries. Oil exporting economies were the most affected from this crisis because oil and gas represent the major portion of their exports. It’s also worth noting that the global Food and Fuel crises have left a negative impact on the MDGs, particularly the targets related to poverty and hunger.
Six priorities for accelerating progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals in the Arab region - the last section of the report summarizes the main conclusions, with emphasis on the recommendations of each of the MDGs. The report identified six priorities that have a strong effect to reduce the constraints identified in the Arab region. These priorities include: food security, poverty reduction; adaptation to climate change; and youth employment and decent work; and to promote gender equality.
The launch will be followed by an open dialogue session between the Arab Ministers of Development and Social Affairs and members of the UN Thematic Working Group of the MDGs, to strengthen the cooperation to help achieve the MDGs.