Japan meeting keeps momentum going on MDGs


The Government of Japan welcomed world leaders to Tokyo to discuss and review progress made toward achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) since the United Nations MDGs Summit in September.

With less than five years remaining before 2015, the target year for achieving the MDGs, the meeting brought together high level delegations from more than 100 countries and international organizations, and provided a unique opportunity to exchange knowledge, as well as to discuss more effective measures to strengthen coordination among a broad range of stakeholders.

The meeting was opened by Japan’s Prime Minister Naoto Kan, who expressed deep appreciation for the solidarity shown by the international community in the wake of the unprecedented earthquakes and tsunami on 11 March 2011. With aftershocks rattling the summit venue as he spoke, Mr Kan assured the audience that Japan remains committed to the achievement of MDGs.

Mr Takeaki Matsumoto, Japan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, underlined this commitment saying, “Japan remains fully dedicated to carrying out faithfully the international commitments it has expressed in the past to achieving the MDGs.”

At the UN MDG Summit in September 2010, Japan launched its “Kan Commitment,” pledging a total of $8.5 billion from 2011 until 2015 to help improve the health of mothers and infants as well as education services in poor countries.

An equity approach

A major theme at the meeting was the importance of achieving well-being for all in a time of new challenges. Participants identified human security, equity, mutual support and sustainability as guiding principles toward meeting the MDGs by 2015.

“Even if we otherwise succeed in achieving the MDGs as a whole, our societies will remain unstable if their vulnerable populations are left behind,” said Foreign Minister Takeaki Matsumoto. “In order to achieve the MDGs in a sustainable way, it is vital that we correct social inequalities and build ‘caring societies’ that are considerate of their vulnerable members.”

Private sector involvement

Many speakers at the Tokyo summit, which was jointly organized by the World Bank, UNDP, and UNICEF, called for greater involvement by the private sector in helping countries meet the 2015 deadline, especially as they battle ongoing food, fuel, and financial crises.

Several ministers remarked that where governments create the right business environment, private companies —including international firms—were quick to develop new markets while also helping to meet the health and education MDGs.

The World Bank’s Managing Director Mahmoud Mohieldin noted the role of public/private partnerships will be vital in leveraging the potential of the private sector over the next four years, as the MDG deadline nears.