On the margins of the 68th session of the United Nations General Assembly, the Director-General, Irina Bokova chaired the Millennium Development Goals Achievement Fund (MDG-F) event “Fulfilling the promise of the Millennium Declaration: The MDG Achievement Fund Experience“ -- with the participation of Mr Mariano Rajoy, Prime Minister of Spain, Mr José Manuel García-Margallo, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain, Ms María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, and Ms Helen Clark, UNDP Administrator and Chair of the United Nations Development Group.
The event was held on 25 September in New York, and it showcased a very special and innovative experience, as well as the success outcomes and mechanisms of the MDG-F. This is one of the largest, most comprehensive and collaborative development efforts devised to support at the same time the MDG attainment while demonstrating the impact of the “Delivering as One”. It revealed how the MDG-F’s 130 joint programmes in 50 countries across the world have captured lessons which can inform and start shaping the evolving post-2015 development vision.
The MDG-F was established in December 2006 with the generous contribution of US $710 million from the Government of Spain to speed up progress towards the achievement of the MDGs worldwide. Building on the comparative advantage of United Nations organizations and their complementary expertise in the framework of the United Nations Reform, the MDG-F supported national governments, local authorities and civil society organizations in their efforts to reduce poverty and inequality through eight thematic areas known as “thematic windows”.
Culture and development constitutes one of the thematic windows of the Fund and comprises a total of 18 development programmes on culture -- implemented in Africa, the Arab States, Asia, Latin America, and South-East Europe over a period of three to four years. These entail work to strengthen cultural and creative industries, sustainable cultural tourism, safeguard of cultural landscapes and of cultural heritage, promote cultural diversity and pluralism and support inclusive policies and ethnic minority development. UNESCO, as the specialized agency of the United Nations system with a specific mandate for culture, was designated by UNDP to lead the UN interagency effort under the thematic window on culture and development.
Outlining its government’s vision on the Post 2015 Agenda, Mr Rahoy reiterated the need for the international community to sustain its efforts in the last push to the full achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. He also voiced the importance of reaching a development based on a comprehensive partnership and, in doing so, he highlighted the advantage of having shared the lessons learned through the experience of such a Fund with all development stakeholders.
Ms María Ángela Holguín Cuéllar, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Colombia, emphasized the contribution of the Fund and of its Programmes for strengthening national and local leadership as well as for the involvement of local organizations and civil society in reducing the poverty gap.
UNDP Administrator Helen Clark, speaking on behalf of the United Nations Development Group (UNDG), underlined the importance of the MDG-F programmes in sustaining the “Delivering as one” process and in providing cohesion of all efforts of the UN system to reduce poverty, ensure access to primary education, eliminate gender gap and provide equal opportunities. She further outlined the contribution of all the United Nations Country Teams in working together to implement programs for the achievement of the MDGs.
Irina Bokova raised the important contribution of the Culture and development thematic windows in demonstrating powerfully that culture is a driver and enabler of development and that as such it should find its rightful place in the post 2015 agenda.
“The Joint Programmes have shown the multidimensional role culture plays in achieving the MDGs” she said. “Fundamentally, the Fund has shown that culture is a key force to underpin efforts to achieve sustainability in the key areas of education, environment and health over the long-term,” she declared.