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16 Dec 2010

Novartis Foundation Symposium discusses the Millennium Development Goals

Over 500 representatives from NGOs, the private sector, universities and international organizations took part in the annual symposium of the Novartis Foundation for Sustainable Development on 3 December in Basel.  

Focusing on “10 years of Millennium Development Goals – Progress to date and the road ahead,” the symposium continued the dialogue started at the Millennium Summit in New York in September 2010.

In his opening speech, Joseph Jimenez, CEO of Novartis, stressed that the healthcare industry is committed to providing solutions to global challenges. In the case of Novartis, this commitment is about improving access to healthcare – from the donation of leprosy drugs, to the delivery of anti-malarial treatments at no profit as well as pro-bono neglected disease research.

Rich countries are falling short of their commitments

Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Earth Institute at New York’s Columbia University and special advisor to the UN Secretary-General, said the MDGs would be achievable only if the governments that had adopted them ten years ago honored their pledges. The world’s richest countries – the US and Japan in particular, but Switzerland too – were setting aside far less than the 0.7 percent of their economic output originally agreed for development cooperation.

Following on from Jeffrey Sachs, Salim Abdulla and Flora L. Kessy from the Ifakara Health Institute in Tanzania shared their experiences in reducing child and maternal mortality. Thanks to improved health services and ongoing education programs, Tanzania should succeed in halving under-five mortality by 2015.







Eveline Herfkens, the former Minister for Development Cooperation of the Netherlands and executive coordinator for the UN Millennium Development Goals Campaign, shared her belief that governments, not charitable institutions, were responsible for funding development. Yet, “financial aid is not a blank check,” she told the audience. It requires a dialog to understand what a country’s development strategy is and how the funds will be used.

Pragmatic idealism is needed to sustain progress

Klaus M. Leisinger, President and Managing Director of the Novartis Foundation, discussed the cooperation between NGOs and private companies. In recent year, relationships have improved significantly and both parties have learned to think about the results achieved rather than their individual contribution. In development cooperation as elsewhere, one should look at the return on invested funds and payments should be linked to the achievement of jointly-agreed goals.

Amir Dossal, who was responsible for the UN’s partnerships with private donors, also put forward the case for more cooperation. He reported that the privately-funded UN Foundation, currently supports more than 450 projects on women’s and children’s health, climate change and biodiversity protection.

In an effort to dispel common myths about the developing world, Swedish Professor Hans Rosling pointed out that it had taken African states just a few decades to develop compared to a century or more in Europe. And in a few years, countries like Ghana and Nigeria will be emerging economies, as they currently stand where the “Asian tigers” were forty years ago.

Like Rosling, Gesine Schwan, political scientist and President of the Humboldt-Viadrina School of Governance, sees hope for developing countries. She believes we need to globalize “the social market economy” and this can happen with politicians, the private sector and civil society joining forces to deliver solutions.

There was one common denominator: The goals in the fight against poverty can only be achieved if all stakeholders do what they have promised to do, governments in the South to promote good governance, governments in the North to live up to their pledges, NGOs and the private sector to constructively cooperate for a world where misery becomes the rare exception.

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Find out more about the speakers and listen to their speeches.

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Annual report 2012

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