Monday, November 03, 2008

UN tries to stay focused

Jeffrey Sachs was interviewed by US News and World Report about the credit crisis. Sachs says that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon has tried to keep the focus of poverty, hunger and rising food prices despite the other attention grabbing crisis.

November 3rd US News and World Report

Jeffrey Sachs, special adviser to Ban on the antipoverty Millennium Development Goals and an economist who directs the Earth Institute at Columbia University, says that the financial crisis "is front and center in the secretary general's attention," with particular focus on coordination efforts aimed at positioning the U.N. system—including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank—so that it "can help to moderate a very deep crisis."

Of particular concern to Ban and his advisers is ensuring that the wealthier donor countries hurt by the financial and economic turmoil do not neglect other global problems in their quest to ease the economic pain being felt by their domestic publics.

Sachs says that the U.N. was seeking "an interconnected and holistic way [of addressing those issues] so we don't throw all our attention only to one problem—say, the financial markets—and then end up with an aborted recovery and an even more unstable world because we've taken our eye off the other challenges."

Sachs adds that there needs to be special care to ensure that aid to poor countries "doesn't dry up." In many cases, including in the United States, current aid falls short of the millennium development aim set in 2000 for developed countries to spend 0.7 percent of their gross national product on such aid.

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