A Christmas present to reflect upon

Posted on: 18th May 2011

Please Note: This article was originally posted on 22/12/08

So, 2008 was the year when the world could assess its progress in dealing with the terrible problems in the poorest countries. It was the halfway point towards meeting what are known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).  The promises made at the United Nations in the year 2000 and to be achieved by 2015. After a World Summit in New York this year and as 2008 draws to a close, we can see for ourselves what has been achieved… I summarised this on my Christmas card this year as follows: “To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger in the world’s poorest countries would cost an estimated £30 billion a year. …a lot of money. About the same as Wall Street and City bankers awarded themselves in bonuses last year.”

The objective “to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger” was the first of the eight MDG agreed by the United Nations in September 2000. Precious little progress has been made. The shameful failure of the richest countries to live up to their promise was reported to the UN Summit this September. News of the failure was drowned out by media concern about the impact of the credit crunch – the product of poorly regulated banks and the financial sector in the US and Europe. The figures set out above are from authoritative sources – a World Bank estimate on eradicating poverty and hunger, and regulatory reports on Wall Street and London City bonuses. The contrast is powerful. It reminds us that ‘Christmas present’ does not amount to a better than ‘Christmas past’ present to the poorest which we can be proud of. Nadelik Lowen and Blethen Noweth da.

Andrew George MP for the West Cornwall & Isles of Scilly constituency of St Ives