Canadian Council for International Co-operation

February 11, 2005 06:00 ET

Campaign Launched to Make Poverty History

Attention: Assignment Editor, News Editor, Photo Editor, World News Editor, Government/Political Affairs Editor OTTAWA, ONTARIO--(CCNMatthews - Feb. 11, 2005) - News Release

Embargo: Friday February 11, 2005

Campaign Launched to Make Poverty History

A wide cross-section of charities, trade unions, faith groups, students, academics, literary, artistic and sports leaders today launched Make Poverty History, a campaign against poverty.

Wearing white bands, the symbol of the campaign, actor Mary Walsh, singer Tom Cochrane, Olympian Anna van der Kamp and United Nations special envoy Stephen Lewis explained that Make Poverty History is calling for more and better aid; fair trade rules; the cancellation of 100% of the debt owed by the poorest countries;and an end to child poverty in Canada.

At the start of the 21st century 1.2 billion people live in abject poverty. More than 800 million people go to bed hungry and 50,000 people die every day from poverty-related causes.

"It doesn't have to be this way. If we choose - if we have the will to act - we can make poverty history," said singer Tom Cochrane. Make Poverty History is part of a global call to action against poverty, with national campaigns active in more than 50 countries.

"More and better aid is needed to help end poverty and hunger, to enable every child to attend elementary school and to begin to reverse the spread of HIV/AIDS," said Gerry Barr, President and CEO of the Canadian Council for International Co-operation, which is coordinating the campaign.

In the new Federal Budget, the government must commit to meeting the United Nations aid spending target of 0.7% of Gross National Income by 2015, the year by which the international community has agreed the proportion of people living in poverty must be cut in half.

"We want to see more aid, but also a timetable outlining how the government intends to meet its 0.7% commitment," added Gerry Barr. To achieve the 0.7% target will require a 12% increase in aid spending in this budget and in each of the next two years, and a 15% annual increase thereafter to 2015.

Nearly five years ago, all member states of the United Nations committed to tackle poverty by meeting minimum targets to reduce hunger, illiteracy, discrimination against women, the spread of HIV/AIDS and environmental degradation by 2015 as set out in the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

"But the pace of action is too slow. If we hold our present course, we will tragically fail to meet these modest targets. And it is the poor who will pay the price," said Stephen Lewis, United Nations Special Envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.

In 2005, world leaders - including Prime Minister Paul Martin - will gather at a series of landmark meetings - the G7 in July, the United Nations Millennium Development Goals review in September and the World Trade Organization ministerial in December.

"This year is one of unprecedented opportunity," said Anna van der Kamp Olympic Silver medalist. "It's the year to say enough is enough and campaign for urgent and meaningful change in aid, trade, debt and child poverty."

Make Poverty History, is calling for an end to child poverty in Canada. Over 15 years ago the House of Commons unanimously resolved to eliminate poverty among Canadian children by the year 2000. At the start of 2005, one million Canadian children, or nearly one in six are still poor.

"If we all stand up this year we can make a difference. Governments, worldwide, will have live up to their commitments to end poverty," said actor and comedian Mary Walsh. She urged Canadians to join the call to action to help Make Poverty History.

For more information contact:

Katia Gianneschi
Media Relations
Canadian Council for International Co-operation
(613) 241-7007 ext. 311

Web site:

Contact Information

  • Katia Gianneschi, Media Relations, Canadian Council for International Co-operation
    Primary Phone: 613-241-7007 ext. 311