Listen to article

28 July - The United Nations development chief today began a two-day visit to Brazil during which she will meet with senior Government officials and discuss progress towards achieving the anti-poverty targets known as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

The visit comes ahead of a high-level summit to be held at UN Headquarters in New York in September aimed at accelerating progress on the Goals, which include targets for slashing poverty, boosting school enrolment rates, improving maternal health and increasing access to clean water and decent sanitation – all by 2015.

Speaking ahead of her trip, Helen Clark, the Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), said that Brazil has made enormous progress on the MDGs and noted the country's contributions to international development.

She also highlighted Brazil's strong social protection programmes and their importance in building resilience against crises.

While in Brazil, Miss Clark will meet with President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, Foreign Minister Celso Amorim and Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira, as well as other officials.

She will also sign a strategic partnership framework agreement between UNDP and the Brazilian Government, which includes among its priorities South-South cooperation initiatives and continued action for achievement of the MDGs.

The visit follows the release last week of UNDP's first Human Development Report for Latin America and the Caribbean, which found that populations in Latin America and the Caribbean have the world's highest levels of differences in wealth and income.

Ten of the 15 most unequal countries in the world are in the region, and women, indigenous populations and those of African descent are the hardest hit by inequality, according to the report, which calls for social policies which tackle this problem.

“Inequality is inherently an impediment to progress in the area of human development, and efforts to reduce inequality must be explicitly mainstreamed in the public agenda,” said Heraldo Muñoz, UNDP Assistant Administrator and Director of the Regional Bureau for Latin America and the Caribbean, who is accompanying Miss Clark to Brazil.