SCIAF tells world leaders: 'stop window dressing and put poor first'

 As the eyes of the world turn to New York and the disappointing outcome of the biggest meeting of world leaders in history, lthe Scottish Catholic aid agency, SCIAF is calling on them to stop window dressing and put the poor first. SCIAF Chief Executive, Paul Chitnis, in his capacity as President of CIDSE said: "The time has come for a dramatic change in our leaders' approach to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which committed to halve poverty by 2015. To date, they have treated the MDGs as an elaborate window d essing exercise with little substantive policy change. While the concrete indicators set by the MDGs demonstrated a step in the right direction, the lack of progress proves that there is a real danger in adopting targets without exploring how they will be achieved." SCIAF as a member of CIDSE has criticised the current approach to development as ignoring local knowledge, participation and needs in favour of global agendas and targets which benefit the rich. They are calling for an acknowledgement that developing countries should be in control of their economic, social and political decision-making and 'accountable primarily to their people'. Mr Chitnis continued: "The UN Summit was an opportunity for our leaders to prove they did not only hear the voices of the millions across the world who supported MAKEPOVERTYHISTORY but that they listened to their demands for justice. Regrettably the Summit struggled to maintain the focus on the billion people who live on less than a $1 per day and, consequently, earlier commitments on trade suffered. "Our leaders must demonstrate their commitment to achieving the MDGs by making the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation more democratic and transparent. The latter must endorse the MDGs as its overarching principle and leaders must provide additional finance through a reformed aid system to ensure sustainable reform. Unpayable debts must be cancelled to ensure development is placed firmly at the heart of the international agenda. " The world will hold their elected representatives to account if they continue to deem it acceptable that by 2010 a child will die every 3.5 seconds."

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