Obama urges global mobilization to end poverty, hunger at UN summit


US President Barack Obama urged global mobilization to meet a set of UN development goals, saying “cynicism is our enemy,” at the ongoing UN summit on development Sunday.

Obama and other leaders spoke at the United Nations on the third and final day of the summit discussing a set of global development goals that were officially adopted on Friday and are to be met over the next 15 years.

Obama vowed to work towards meeting the goals in the US and abroad during his time in office and beyond.

“Development works … we can break the cycle of poverty, people and nations can rise to prosperity,” Obama said.

Many of the current world crises could have been avoided if nations had invested in their citizens and if wealthy nations had been better partners in assisting them, the US president said.

Obama called for better governance, promotion of women’s rights, access to education and an end to social inequalities worldwide.

British Prime Minister David Cameron called on leaders of wealthy countries to deliver on aid promises and hailed the adopted development agenda for making eradication of extreme poverty its central aim.

“I say to my fellow world leaders from developed countries – we have been making these aid promises for years, now let us all deliver on them,” Cameron said.

“We need a new global partnership to ensure that all our policies on things like tax and trade and transparency really help to deliver progress for the poorest,” he said.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said his country would invest in quality infrastructure in Asia and Africa, and help protect people in vulnerable situations, including preparation for public health crises.

Abe noted that Japan will take a lead role in disaster risk reduction and vowed to provide funding for the implementation of the climate change agreement.

French President Francois Hollande, whose country will host a summit at year’s end to finalize a plan to mitigate the impact of climate change, called on countries to exert political will to forge a strong agreement.

Hollande urged nations to step up financing for the plan to ensure the goals can be met by all countries, especially less developed ones.

“My responsibility this coming December will be for us all to reach an agreement to combat climate change and ensure that life on our planet lasts for a very long time,” Hollande said.

He said France would earmark an additional 4 billion euros (4.47 billion dollars) for development aid and would also allocate a portion of a tax on international transactions, which will be introduced in 2017, to combat inequalities and climate change.

In his remarks, Greek Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras stressed the importance of debt restructuring as a basis for development and economic recovery saying the issue of debt was “an international challenge at the centre of our global financial system.”

“We cannot talk about eradicating poverty or unemployment, unless we can discuss how to build or improve welfare states instead of destroying them,” Tsipras said.

“We must distance ourselves from the neoliberal idea that markets are the sole resource allocator in the economy.”

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko told the assembly that Ukraine could not meet the development goals until Russia ended its military aggression against the country.

Noting that peace and freedom are fundamental for development, the Ukrainian president said Russia’s actions set Ukraine back socially and economically, while also damaging the environment.

“Sustainable development is not achievable where explosions are heard and peaceful people are killed,” he said.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who spoke immediately after Poroshenko without making reference to the ongoing Ukraine conflict, called on UN member states to support developing nations and to achieve a more equitable global financial system.

He stressed that Russia provided aid with no strings attached.

“In our efforts, we neither try to lecture our partners on how they should build their lives, nor try to impose political models or values,” Lavrov said.

Earlier, the long-time president of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, warned leaders of a “new world war” if Western countries continued to intervene in the Middle East.

Lukashenko, who has held reign over the former Soviet state since 1994, said that peace and security were prerequisites for development but that actions by the West have led to the destabilization of several regions.

Lukashenko said that “well-known countries” have meddled in Iraq, Libya and Syria under the pretence of creating democracy, and also warned that the Ukrainian crisis could get out hand any moment.

“If we make one more step towards global conflict, then it’s possible that we’ll move towards a new world war at the centre of the civilized and progressed world,” Lukashenko said.