e-CIVICUS 408 - Issued 25 September 2008 

Poverty Hearings Press conference,
12.30pm , Tuesday 23 September 2008 in the Tillman Chapel, UN Church Center , 777 United Nations Plaza, New York

Tuesday 23 September: As world leaders prepare for this week’s UN Summit on the Millennium Development Goals, people living in poverty and activists are gathering on the steps of the UN Headquarters, demanding to be involved in the decision-making that will impact their daily lives.  

The Global Call to Action against Poverty, the world’s largest civil society alliance, is calling for a fundamental re-think of the international response to poverty. With the financial markets in meltdown, and soaring food prices hitting impoverished people the hardest, maintaining the status quo is no longer an option. Overcoming poverty will not be possible without challenging the current model of globalisation and development, which too often puts profits before human rights, security and welfare.  

“What could have been a real dialogue with civil society has turned into another elite and cosy gathering. World leaders need to learn from people with experience of poverty to make sure the MDG action plans really work. The Summit is an ideal opportunity for people who live in poverty to feed in their ideas on quality education for all, empowering women, and investing in local agriculture, as well as new deals debt and trade. Instead they are locked out,” said Kumi Naidoo, Chair of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty.  

In response, GCAP has organised an International Poverty Hearing next door to UN Heaquarters. Community representatives from Africa, Asia and Latin America are today giving powerful first hand testimonies on the daily realities of the food crisis, lack of access to education and healthcare, and the impact of climate.  

They might push us out of the corridors of power but we will not stay silent, ”said Lysa John, National Coordinator of Wada na Todo Abhiyan (‘Keep Your Promises’) campaign, in India.We our governments accountable for the MDGs and, the for promise they made in 2000 to work in partnership with us,” she added.  

These hearings are a great weapon for change,’ said Archbishop Ndugane, founder of the first poverty hearing in South Africa, 10 years ago. ‘You cannot ignore the words of a mother who cannot feed her children calling for justice.”  

The UN Summit is a crucial opportunity to initiate the necessary power shift and make sure that governments are held accountable for the impact of their decisions on the lives of billions of people living in poverty. 

“Since 2000, the Millennium Development Goals have provided a common framework for rich and poor countries, governments and non-government organizations, to work together and there have been some very impressive results in reducing poverty and improving health and education levels,” said Salil Shetty, Director of the Millennium Campaign. “But at the current speed, we will not be able to achieve the Goals by 2015.  Today’s poverty hearings make it clear that, for the poor, the cost of further delay is unacceptably high. During this week’s High Level meeting, world leaders need to sign on to an accelerated and time-bound plan of action to get back on track toward achieving the Goals by 2010.”  

For more information, to book an interview contact;

Ciara O’Sullivan, GCAP Media Coordinator on Cell +1 917 587 9591 or mail ciara.osullivan@civicus.org.  

Notes to editors:  

The Global Call to Action against Poverty ( GCAP ) is the world’s largest civil society alliance of social movements, international NGOs, trade unions, community groups, women’s organizations, faith and youth groups, local associations and campaigners working together across more than 100 national coalitions/platforms.   GCAP is calling for action from the world’s leaders to meet their promises to end poverty and inequality. In particular, GCAP demands solutions that address the issues of; public accountability, just governance and the fulfilment of human rights; trade justice; more and better aid; debt cancellation and gender equality and women’s rights.  www.whiteband.org.  

GCAP has prepared a policy demands paper which is being handed over to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and will inform the discussions. It says that:  

“At this High-Level Event, the Global Call to Action Against Poverty, reaffirms our strong resolutions and responsibility to hold governments accountable for the promises they have made. Specifically, we commit to:

·                             Empowering citizens to hold their governments to account through regular poverty hearings involving the poorest and marginalized groups

·                             Producing shadow civil society reports in the North and South to monitor Government progress on the MDGs between now and 2015

“In return GCAP wants governments to:

·                             Announce specific, significant and measurable commitments and sustainable initiatives to accelerate progress on the MDGs between now and 2015

·                             Establish a process for open accountability with civil society through the publishing of all relevant data and information and the participation of civil society, especially the most marginalized and impoverished, in the conceptualisation, delivery and evaluation of all initiatives.”

Minar Pimple, the United Nations Millennium Campaign’s Deputy Director for Asia, will be available for interviews at the event. The Campaign’s Director, Salil Shetty; Deputy Director for Africa, Tajudeen Abdul-Raheem; Deputy Director for Europe, Marina Ponti; and North America Coordinator, Anita Sharma, are also available for interviews. To schedule an interview, contact Kara Alaimo at Kara.Alaimo@undp.org. For more information, visit www.endpoverty2015.org.   Cel 646 207 3511.  

On October 17-19th, millions of people around the world will “Stand Up and Take Action” to tell their leaders that they expect them to deliver on the concrete commitments made in 2000 and reiterated at this week’s High Level Meeting. Last year, 43 million people stood up against poverty. This year the number is expected to double. The global movement in support of the Millennium Development Goals is growing. We will no longer stay seated in the face of poverty and the broken promises to end it. For more information on the “Stand Up” mobilization, visit www.standagainstpoverty.org

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