Heather Li, Progressio's Millennium Development Goals Advocacy Intern, reflects on the connections between the coming Papal Visit to the UK and the UN Millennium Development Goals Review Summit in New York.

Where were you on the eve of the millennium? Most of us were at a party or two! But other important things happened in 2000 – Tate Modern opened, there were fuel protests in the UK and world leaders met to agree 8 international development objectives: the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Thankfully, significant progress has been made in some areas, displaying what can be achieved when political commitment exists. But ten years later international efforts are falling alarmingly short of the promises made. Urgent action is required.

With only five years left until the 2015 deadline, Ban-Ki Moon, the UN Secretary General, has summoned world leaders to account for their progress at a special MDG Review Summit in New York this September. He wants to reinvigorate action and accelerate progress to finally half global poverty by 2015.

September also sees the first official visit of Pope Benedict XVI to the UK. A world leader himself, Benedict is a strong supporter of the MDGs and has said that “achieving the goal of eradicating extreme poverty by the year 2015 is one of the most important tasks in today’s world. ... such an objective is indissolubly linked to world peace and security.”

At Progressio we want the UK Papal Visit to provide some impetus for the UN summit. We hope the Pope’s visit will provide a rare and timely opportunity to reflect on our nation’s values and principles. We hope it will reinforce support for the most vulnerable and inspire our political leaders to challenge behaviours and policies that are harmful to the common good.

Everyone has a role to play to generate the political will necessary to make 2010 a real turning point for poverty. At Progressio we see an opportunity  to reflect not only on development issues, but also on fundamental themes of the common good, solidarity and human dignity that unite both Christian and International Development communities worldwide.

Failing to meet the MDGs by 2015 would demonstrate a scandalous failure of compassion and global political will. The MDG Summit could become a historical turning point in the battle against global poverty. So we’re urging the UK government to play its part and keep its promises. The summit can’t be a moment of warm words, smoke and mirrors, but must lead to a genuine recommitment, with verifiable commitments and plans.