Yesterday at United Nations headquarters in New York, the Millennium Villages Project announced it would move into the second phase of its work with a focus on business development, increasing investments, scaling up, and strengthening delivery systems as it continues on track to meet the Millennium Development Goals by 2015. More than $72 million in new pledges were made, including $27.4 million by George Soros, Founder and Chairman of the Open Society Foundations. These funds will go towards MVP interventions, key staff positions, and the project's monitoring and evaluation activities. An additional $20 million will be set aside for future loans from the Soros Economic Development Fund for business investments. The official press release can be found here with corresponding news stories from the AP, the UN News Centre and a video clip from a press conference held at the UN.
To a room of Ambassadors, UN agency representatives, high level officials and MVP donors, United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon praised efforts being made as he recalled his trip last year to the Millennium Village of Mwandama in Malawi. He spoke of the success he witnessed and the continued need to focus on achieving the MDGs even amidst current financial crises and austerity measures being taken in different parts of the world. Earlier in the day the Secretary-General released an op-ed he wrote for Project Syndicate relating his own experience growing up in a rebuilding post-war Korea to the development challenges that many poor countries face today.
After the SG's remarks, George Soros told the group why it was important for him to continue to support the project. He said the first phase demonstrated the MVP was working and scalable. He cited current national programs underway in Nigeria, Mali and Rwanda which replicate different aspects of the MVP model–a primary focus to have broader impact. Mr. Soros has a blog post on The Open Society Foundations’ support for scaling up the MVP.
Several key MVP partners spoke during the session expressing their continued support for the MVP. They included UN agency partners: Jan Mattsson, Executive Director, UNOPS; Kent Buse, Senior Adviser to Executive Director, UNAIDS; Philippe Kridelka, Director, UNESCO NY; Gary Fowlie, Head, Liaison office to the United Nations at International Telecommunication Union; and corporate partners: Klaus Leisinger, President and Managing Director, Novartis Foundation; Doug Beever, Senior Director, Corporate Relations, Agrium; and Ronnen Harary, CEO, Spin Master. In addition, coinciding with the event was the release of The Millennium Villages Project: The Next Five Years: 2011-2015, the latest report detailing gains made since the project's start in 2006, as well as plans for the project's next five years.
In the media:
The Chronicle of Philanthropy:
Soros Pledges $27.4-Milllion for Rural African Development
The New Age Online:
Billionaire Soros funds African antipoverty projects
UN project makes “tremendous breakthroughs” towards MDGs
Monsters and Critics.com:
Billionaire Soros funds African anti-poverty projects