|A 10 minute video film produced by TVE Asia Pacific opened a major United Nations meeting to review the Asia Pacific region’s progress in pursuit of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).
The meeting, held in Manila, the Philippines, on 7 September 2005 was attended by over 200 senior representatives from governments, civil society and UN agencies from across the Asia Pacific. It was hosted by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) at its headquarters.
The ADB was one of three co-organisers of the meeting, the others being the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UN Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific (UNESCAP).
Together, the three organizations released a new report on Asia's progress in MDGs – the time-bound, measurable goals for socio-economic advancement that were adopted by heads of state meeting at the UN Millennium Summit in 2000.
There are eight MDGs: eradicate extreme poverty and hunger; achieve universal primary education; promote gender equality and empower women; reduce child mortality; improve maternal health; combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases; ensure environmental sustainability; and develop a global partnership for development.
The new report, titled A Future Within Reach: Reshaping institutions in a region of disparities to meet the Millennium Development Goals in Asia and the Pacific, uses the latest data to track the movement of each country or territory in the region for each of the MDGs and assesses whether the goal will be met by 2015.
Asia and the Pacific is one of the world’s most dynamic regions and many of its countries are making progress toward achieving the MDGs. But none of the region’s developing countries is on track to achieve all the goals, the report said offering a detailed analysis covering goal by goal, and sub-region by sub-region.
In addition to assessing Asia's progress so far, A Future within Reach also outlined the critical actions and changes that need to happen now to improve the region's chances of achieving the MDGs.
TVE Asia Pacific – a regional leader in using television, video and new media to communicate development issues -- was commissioned by UNESCAP to produce the official video to accompany the report. It was developed by TVEAP programme staff in Colombo in close consultation with UNESCAP experts in Bangkok. It was edited at Video Image (Pvt) Limited, a production house in Colombo.The video drew information and analysis from the new report, based on an advance copy made available. The film’s main thrust is the same: how a region of such diversity and disparity is engaged in creating better living conditions, livelihoods and choices for all its people – which is more than 60 per cent of humanity.
Countries in the Asia Pacific developed national plans and strategies to achieve the MDGs by 2015. Five years on, there has been some remarkable progress, the film notes.
|The region is doing relatively well on the first three MDGs:
||Over 250 million people have moved out of poverty – the best reduction in recorded history.
||More children are going to school than ever before – and stay there for longer.
||Importantly, this includes almost equal numbers of girls and boys.
But the region is not doing so well on the other goals. “Many countries have a long way to go before they achieve the other MDGs,” the film notes.
A worrying trend is the worsening conditions in some countries. National averages hide disparities across different localities. Overall figures also mask gender differences. Echoing the report, the film says some countries – particularly the least developed countries – have much catching up to do.
The film then focuses on the sub-region where most major development gaps exist: South Asia. It takes a closer look at how the health and lives of mothers and young children are at risk due to inadequate social investment, wrong priorities and lack of awareness.
“Every year in the Asia Pacific region, 5 million children die before they are five years old,” the film notes. It adds: “South Asia has more under-weight children below five yeRs than in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa. Malnourished children are weak, and become easy prey to many childhood diseases.”
“By adding a human touch to the mass of statistics and expert analysis, our video film has brought the discussion closer to the real world issues and real people that the MDGs try to serve. This is exactly what we are about: moving images moving people towards more equitable and sustainable development for all.”
-- Nalaka Gunawardene, Director, TVE Asia Pacific.
The film looks at the situation in Bangladesh to illustrate the situation.
Water and sanitation is another major development challenge the film focuses on. Quoting the report, the film says some 700 million people in the Asia Pacific don’t have access to safe drinking water. Finding any fresh water is a daily struggle for many. Often when water is found, it is too polluted or poisonous for drinking.
The film zooms into Manila, where most at risk are those living on the edge of Manila Bay: they receive much of the city’s raw sewage and industrial waste. This is typical of Asia’s mega-cities.
The film – just like the report – not only identifies the stark problems but also highlights solutions already attempted, as well as choice and options available to countries. “Solutions emerge when local communities, government agencies and private companies work together for change,” says the film.
As an example, the film showcases the experience of the Orangi Pilot Project in Karachi, Pakistan. There, local communities used people’s resources and skills to build and maintain hundreds of kilometers of low-cost underground sewers, as well as affordable toilets. Over 92,000 families are covered by this self-funded, grassroots initiative.
Such efforts are promising, but they need to be scaled up and replicated, the film notes. “The next 10 years up to 2015 are crucial. A better future is within our reach – if we act now,” is how the film sums up the reports conclusions.
As it ends, the film makes the point that the Asia Pacific region’s performance is crucial for the global success of MDGs. It also notes that collectively, the region has the resources, skills and expertise for a massive surge forward to 2015.
Click here for separate news story on Manila meeting