The World Economic Forum tends to wield significant
clout but is usually associated more with conservative
business positions calling for smaller government.
Here the WEF seems to be revalidating the State’s role
as primary service provider and criticizing current
efforts to address the root causes of poverty. Ed.
21 April 2004 :
New Zealand Herald
GENEVA - The world's governments are failing miserably
to meet goals they have set themselves to reduce
poverty, war and hunger, a leading business group
The World Economic Forum (WEF), in an unusually
scathing report, said not enough was being done to
raise standards of education and health, the basic
"building blocks of global stability", as agreed by
189 countries at the United Nations in 2000.
The UN's so-called Millennium Declaration established
a series of goals to act as yardsticks for world
progress, such as halving hunger or water and
sanitation shortages by 2015.
"Too often the governments are scarcely trying," said
the report. "The non-state actors on the international
scene -- businesses and civil society groups -- are
neither able nor willing to compensate for the
inadequacies of government."
The WEF, organisers of the annual Davos meeting of the
rich and powerful in the Swiss Alps, said the report
attempted to hold governments accountable as political
and financial leaders gather this week in Washington
at a joint meeting of the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund.
In none of the categories outlined by the WEF -- peace
and security, poverty, hunger, education, health,
environmental protection and human rights -- were
international bodies and governments doing even half
of what is needed to meet UN goals.
In some areas -- such as hunger in the Middle East,
and South Asia
-- conditions were worsening, the WEF said.
"History is likely to judge all of us more for our
progress towards these goals than for marginal changes
in GDP (economic output) or the rise of stock indices.
Given the record in 2003, history's judgment is
unlikely to be flattering," it added.