Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed has addressed the world leaders at the United Nations Millennium Development Goals (MDG) Summit in New York yesterday.

In his address at the three-day summit to measure the progress towards MDGs before 2015 deadline, Vice President Dr Waheed called a formal and transparent Small Island Developing States (SIDS) category within the UN.

Noting the potential challenges the Maldives could face following its graduation from the UN list of Least Developed Countries (LDCs) in achieving MDGs, the Vice President said a better organised system of UN support for SIDS was the answer to those challenges.

“There needs to be a far better organized, more efficient, more targeted, and more measurable system of United Nations support for Small Island Developing States”, said the Vice President.

The Maldives has already achieved five out of the eight MDGs making it South Asia’s only “MDG +” country.

Whilst acknowledging the significant progress made across the areas of poverty eradication, primary education, child mortality, and health and disease,
Dr Mohamed Waheed drew attention to other social, economic and political challenges faced by the government in maintaining a positive trajectory.

He said, the government was struggling with the political imperative of consolidating democracy and promoting human rights and rule of law, parallel with its socio-economic drive towards MDGs.

He stressed that promoting human rights, decentralization of government and administration, privatization, redistribution, promoting small and medium enterprises and competition were the foundations of government policy.

But he said the government had to address the challenges against these policies by the “powerful vested interests that once controlled the country.”

The Vice President also underscored the precarious economic situation the country was left with due to extravagant spending by the previous government, the 2004 tsunami, and the global economic crisis, as a challenge to achieving the MDGs.

In his address, Vice President Dr Mohamed Waheed outlined the difficulties faced by the government in reaching the MDG targets in the areas of gender equality and women’s empowerment, and environmental sustainability.