By PATRICK TALU
PAPUA New Guinea needs to do much more if it is to achieve the Millennium Development Goals set by the United Nations, UN country coordinator David McLachlan-Karr said on Tuesday.
Speaking at the 2009 PNG Media Council Awards Night at the Grand Palace Restaurant, Mr McLachlan-Karr said with six years left to 2015, which is the target date for achieving the MDGs, PNG’s progress had been mixed, giving rise to concerns whether the goals would be achieved.
Mr McLachlan-Karr, who arrived in the country to take up his new post only two months ago, said PNG’s first MDGs Progress Report in 2004 showed that the country was unlikely to achieve the MDGs.
Since then, there had been some improvements, most notably in the education sector, he said.
The second progress report, which the UN is assisting the Government to prepare, will provide a more up-to-date status.
Mr McLachlan-Karr said some key challenges remained for PNG in terms of achieving the MDGs.
These included weak governance and accountability; poor monitoring and tracking mechanisms; and a population that is growing at a rate much faster than the GDP growth rate.
On top of that, he said the HIV/AIDS epidemic threatened to undo all the progress that had been made so far, and climate change created a severe environmental impact that exacerbated the vulnerability of the poor and marginalised.
“Given these myriad challenges, it will take everyone – the Government, churches, faith-based organisations, civil society, the private sector, and the media to lift our game, and to work together to achieve the MDGs and through this improve the lives of all people, and especially the poor and marginalised,” he said.
The MDGs have, over the last nine years or so, become the cornerstone of development planning, performance assessment and public engagement in the global fight against poverty and to improving the lives of the world’s poorest.
The UN system and donor partners have been working with the Government to build institutional capacity, policies and programmes needed to achieve the MDGs.
It is also working with non-State actors including churches, faith-based organisations, civil society, the private sector, and the media to help the Government to meet its MDG commitments.