UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon (R) poses for a photo with education advocate Malala Yousafzai before a special event marking 500 days of action for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), at the UN headquarters in New York, on Aug. 18, 2014. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Monday marked 500 days of action until the deadline to reach the Millennium Development Goals, known worldwide as the MDGs. (Xinhua/Niu Xiaolei)
UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 18 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Monday marked 500 days of action until the deadline to reach the Millennium Development Goals, known worldwide as the MDGs.
"Action now will save lives, build a solid foundation for sustainable development far beyond 2015 and help lay the groundwork for lasting peace and human dignity," Ban said in his message for this occasion, calling for accelerated actions to fulfill the goals by the end of 2015 as scheduled.
The UN chief highlighted progress made following the MDGs roadmap, such as global poverty cut in half, more girls in school, more mothers surviving child birth and huge inroads in fighting malaria, tuberculosis and other killer diseases.
"Against the predictions of cynics, the MDGs have helped unite, inspire and transform," Ban said.
The eight MDGs, agreed by world leaders at UN summit in 2000, are described as a 15-year roadmap to fight poverty, hunger and disease, protect the environment and expand education, basic health and women's empowerment.
According to a report the UN chief presented to member states in July, inequality remains a challenge, as does childbirth, maternal mortality, universal education, and environmental sustainability.
During a special event at the UN headquarters in New York, Ban underscored the importance of youth involvement in achieving the development. "It is often said that young people are the leaders of tomorrow, but you have already taken a lot of important decisions, a lot of actions today," he said.
He was joined by more than 500 young people, including Malala Yousafzai, who became an education advocate after being attacked by the Taliban on a school bus.
Ban also pointed out that education is one of the areas needed to work on when meeting the deadline of MDGs. "We still have 50 million people, school-aged people, young students who are not able to get an education. We are bringing them back to school. That's our vision now that we are approaching the 500 days deadline."