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Last Updated: Monday, 16 February, 2004, 15:53 GMT
Brown calls for anti-poverty war
By Ben Richardson
BBC News Online business reporter at the Treasury

UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown at the globalisation conference
Mr Brown wants more to be done for developing nations
UK Chancellor Gordon Brown has warned that the developed world is failing in its promises to reduce global poverty and sickness.

At a conference in London, he called on governments to give an extra 50bn ($94bn;74bn euros) in aid per year.

Countries must open their markets to competition more quickly, cut protectionism and write off larger amounts of Third World debt, he said.

The presidents of Brazil and the World Bank and singer Bono backed his stance.

Air of apathy

Back in 2000, world leaders and governments agreed upon a number of targets aimed at halving poverty in developing nations, boosting the number of children in school and cutting the infant mortality rate.

Mr Brown complained that the lack of progress on the so-called Millennium Development Goals during the past five years means the first target will be missed.

World Bank President James Wolfensohn at the globalisation conference
Wolfensohn: Provide health, education and prospects of the poor

More worrying, he said, was the prevailing air of apathy that means many of the goals are unlikely to be met within the next hundred years, let alone by the planned 2015.

"Too often we have set goals, reset them and recalibrated them again so that all we end up doing is mitigating the extent to which we have failed," Mr Brown said in his keynote speech at the "Making Globalisation Work For All" conference in London.

"And if we, knowing what we have to do, fail to act now, we will not only fail the poor this time but they will never believe our promises again."

Speaking with passion and force, Mr Brown said 2005 would be a "crucial, defining year; a year of challenge but also one of opportunity".

New aid plan

It was not good enough, he stressed, that 80% of the world's resources were still controlled by only 20% of its total population.

Neither was it good enough that 115 million children did not go to school this morning; that people still died of treatable diseases such as tuberculosis and malaria; or that there were one billion people living on less than $1 a day.

To accelerate the process of change, Mr Brown laid out plans for an new International Finance Facility which would double the amount of international aid available to the poorest countries to $100bn a year until 2015.

The World Bank's Mr Wolfensohn gave his support to the plan, underling the fact that governments were often happy to allocate billions of dollars to their defence budgets but not to raising living standards around the world.

The irony of that strategy, Mr Wolfensohn said, was that the best way to ensure a prosperous, stable and peaceful world was to improve the health, education and prospects of the poorest people.

Terrorism, he added, was not about religion, but about prospects and hope.

Political will

Brazil's President Luis Inacio Lula da Silva picked up on these comments, adding that "hunger in itself is a weapon of mass destruction," killing 24,000 people a day and 11 children every minute.

One of the main obstacles to solving problems is the culture of cynicism that has developed, he said.

"Political will is required because we often become hardened to the problems people face and cease to believe they can ever be solved."

He added: "Rich countries know full well that it is in their own self-interest to give a hand to those who are still far from achieving these goals."

The BBC's Mike Donkin
"Asking whether a newer approach is needed"

Brown's poverty plan well-received
16 Feb 04  |  Business
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15 Jan 04  |  Science/Nature
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28 Nov 03  |  Business

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