Celebrities and dignitaries call on leaders at UN Summit to step up their commitments to Millennium Development Goals

General, Media Releases, Organisation news article written on the 22 Sep 2008

New York – Oxfam Ambassadors Annie Lennox, Scarlett Johansson and Kristin Davis are among 25 celebrities who will call on leaders, including Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, to step up their commitments to reducing poverty as they review progress on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) at the UN Summit in New York this Thursday.
As a part of a global campaign led by Oxfam called in my name, celebrities and dignitaries have recorded video clips to pressure governments to work harder to meet the MDGs that aim to halve global poverty by 2015.
These testimonials will feature in a video clip to a song written and produced by Black-eyed Peas lead singer Will.i.am titled in my name that will be performed live outside the United Nations in the presence of world leaders on September 25. It will also be released internationally on the same day as a free download.
Archibishop Desmond Tutu, Mary Robinson and leading economist and Special Advisor to the UN Secretary General on the MDGs Jeffery Sachs, will join celebrities including Australian artists Missy Higgins and John Butler, and Annie Lennox, Bill Nighy, the singer Fergie, Kristin Davis, Mischa Barton and Scarlett Johansson who are all among the faces of the in my name campaign.
Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said the in my name campaign aimed to re-energise governments to fight poverty in light of the increased challenges of climate change and the food crisis.
“A world wide increase in food and oil prices and the global credit crunch have pushed a further 100 million people into hunger. Governments are at real risk of failing to halve global poverty by 2015,” Mr Hewett said.
“The effort to halve global poverty is achievable. We need the political will and popular support for the Millennium Development Goals to ensure that that they do not go down in history as a failed attempt.”
In her video testimonial signer-songwriter Missy Higgins called on the Australian government to recognise the additional threat that climate change poses to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals, especially in our region.
“It is devastating that some of Australia’s neighbours – small island countries in the Pacific – are at risk of disappearing completely because of severe changes to their environment,” Missy Higgins said.
“Australia is a large regional neighbour to Pacific nations but also the second largest emitter of carbon dioxide per person in the world so we have a responsibility to act.
“If Australia is serious about the Millennium Development Goals and wants to halve poverty by 2015, it needs to increase its help to its Pacific neighbours to help them cope with climate change.”
in my name is a Global Call to Action against Poverty campaigning action supported by Oxfam, Save the Children and Comic Relief.
Key Information:
Monday Sept 22: Release of documentary Chance or Choice: The generation to end poverty
This 7-minute documentary will be released featuring celebrities talking about how the Millennium Development Goals are achievable and includes Kristin Davis talking about HIV/AIDS and healthcare, Missy Higgins talking about climate change, Mel B talking about child mortality and Sergio Mendes talking about hunger.
Thursday Sept 25: Release of song and video clip titled in my name
The 3-minute video clip and song titled in my name will be internationally released. This has been written and produced by Black Eyed Peas lead singer Will.i.am, and features accompanying lyrics by Angelique Kidjo, and a video clip that includes 25 celebrities and people from around the world signing their name in support of ending poverty.
Thursday Sept 25 10:00 NYC TIME: Live performance of in my name outside the UN
Will.i.am and Angelique Kidjo will perform in my name live in Dag Hammarskjöld Plaza on September 25. They will be joined by UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Mary Robinson, Kristin Davis, Rahul Bose, Queen Rania of Jordan and Millennium children born in 2000 from around the world.
Facts and Figures:
In September 2000, leaders from 189 nations committed to achieving the following Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and at the halfway point the world is not on track.
Goal 1: Eradicate extreme poverty & hunger
Increases in the price of food have had a direct and adverse and may push 100 million people deeper into poverty.
Goal 2: Achieve universal primary education
In Southern Asia, the enrolment ratio has climbed to 90 per cent, yet more than 18 million children of primary school age are not enrolled.
Goal 3: Promote gender equality and empower women
Oceania has seen a deterioration in gender equality in primary school enrolment and sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia both have some of the largest gender gaps in primary enrolment.
Goal 4: Reduce child mortality
Vaccinations have slashed deaths from measles, however in Eastern Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean, child mortality rates are approximately four times higher than in developed regions.
Goal 5: Improve maternal health
The high risk of dying in pregnancy or childbirth continues unabated in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia, with the two regions accounting for 86 per cent of deaths in 2005.
Goal 6: Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria & other diseases
Despite small victories, the number of people living with HIV rose from an estimated 29.5 million in 2001 to 33 million in 2007.
Goal 7: Ensure environmental sustainability
Carbon dioxide emissions reached 28 billion metric tons in 2005 and continued upward.
Though access to improved drinking water has expanded, nearly one billion still have no access.
Goal 8: Develop a global partnership for development
Total aid remains well below the United Nations target of 0.7 per cent of the Gross National Income.

For more information, to obtain images, the song or to arrange interviews, please contact:
Sunita Bose, Oxfam Australia Media Liaison on +61 407 555 960, sunitab@oxfam.org.au