SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT/ MILLENIUM DEVELOPMENT GOALS Today, our planet is under severe strain. Depletion of natural resources, loss of biodiversity and impact of climate change are limiting the absorption capacity of the Earth. It is our shared responsibility to achieve sustained economic growth and sustainable development without threatening the planet’s balance. In recent years, global imbalances have steadily increased and negatively affected all countries. The financial and economic crisis as well as high and volatile energy and food prices, in other words energy and food crises, reversed some development gains and exacerbated poverty and hunger. Sustainable development is about providing choices to future generations. It is about ensuring that our actions today do not preclude opportunities tomorrow. It is about choosing to work for environmental protection, for social equity, and for economic growth in an integrated fashion. The three pillars of sustainable development, namely economic, social and environmental dimensions, are equally important and complement each other. People must be at the center of sustainable development and have an equal opportunity in the economic growth process. It is ever more important to achieve sustainable development in an equitable and inclusive manner. The right to development must be fulfilled so as to equitably meet developmental and environmental needs of present and future generations. All stakeholders should cooperate in a spirit of global partnership to address global economic, social and environmental challenges. Complacency is not an option. We must move forward because a world where more than 74 million youth are unemployed, and where more than 450 million workers live on less than one dollar and twenty-five cents a day, as they did last year, is not sustainable. Addressing these challenges effectively will require making choices. We must be pragmatic: some of the choices will be difficult. Prioritizations and action on these priorities are necessary. At a time of general austerity and budget cuts, finding solutions may seem particularly challenging. But we should take inspiration from the knowledge that dedicated and focused work can produce results. Progress based on the Millennium Development Goals offers clear evidence of the potential: the MDGs have helped to lift millions of people out of poverty, and by 2015, it is now expected that the global poverty rate will indeed fall below 15 per cent, well within the target of halving extreme poverty levels. Targeted interventions have also succeeded in reducing child mortality, and today nearly 12,000 fewer children are dying each day than in 1990. Turkey is fully committed to the Millenium Development Goals. We have effectively integrated the MDGs into our development policies. In fact, Turkey represents one of the leading success stories at the global level in terms of progress in achieving the MDGs. Overcoming income inequality and reducing poverty, which are the cornerstone of the MDGs, are at the top of our priorities. Turkey has made steady progress in poverty reduction by allocating considerable resources to social policies. We are supporting projects that generate income and diversify economic activity for the poor segments of society, and we are also encouraging entrepreneurship in rural and less developed regions. We are making efforts to ensure that certain groups, such as women, that are vulnerable to social isolation are incorporated in economic and social life and their living standards are raised. Reforms in favor of low income groups in the fields of education, health and employment have played a particularly significant role in reducing income inequality. While there were 136,000 people in Turkey who lived on less than $30 a month in 2002, by 2009 no one had a monthly income below $30. While in 2002, 2 million people were living on less than $65 a month, this number fell to 159,000 by 2009. We were able to reduce the number of people who lived with a monthly income of $129 from 20 million in 2002 to 3 million by 2009. We are aiming to have no one living with an income below $65 a month by 2015, and to eradicate absolute poverty by 2023. In achieving these goals, we will have registered important progress and accumulated significant experience in the struggle against poverty. As a result of our determined policies, Turkey stands out as an example at the global level in terms of reducing poverty and income inequality. Turkey’s achievements are even more impressive when looked at in light of the current global social and economic volatility. To ensure that this progress is sustainable, we are determined to press on with our efforts in the period ahead. The success story of Turkey, and in particular our efforts to ensure an honorable life for all and reducing income inequality, is as much a source of pride for our people as it is a source of inspiration for those beyond our borders.
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