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Developing Nations Battle Poverty Together

For the first time, national leaders and about 1,000 officials and representatives from developing countries plan to share lessons learned on the global fight against poverty.

Co-sponsored by the World Bank and the Chinese Government, the Global Conference on Scaling up Poverty Reduction is being held from May 26-27 in China's largest city, said World Bank President James Wolfensohn Tuesday at a press conference.

The conference is not only a flash point for ideas but also something of a rally to re-energize efforts to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Besides capital, the world needs "fresh approaches" to development, taking small successes and applying them in other settings.

"This is a conference on how to take successful programs and scale them up; how to enable poor people to be a central force for change and not an object of charity," he said.

The main target of the conference is to uncover the economic, social and governance components that enabled countries to reduce poverty, share lessons across regions and countries and disseminate those lessons to policymakers, practitioners and researches.

Although 50 years of development assistance have helped millions of people shake off poverty, disease and fear, 2.8 billion people - more than half the people in developing countries - live on less than US$2 a day, said a press release for the conference. Of these, 1.2 billion earn less than US$1.

"By exchanging ideas on the experiences we learned, we hope the conference will be conducive to push forward the development of South-South co-operation, South-North dialogue and the MDGs," said Minister of Finance Jin Renqing during a meeting with Wolfensohn after the conference.

The conference is more than a two-day meeting, said Wolfensohn. It is also the culmination of nine months of research as well as a life-long learning process on poverty reduction.

Shanghai officials are touting the conference as a landmark event.

The city cherishes the opportunity to hold the conference, which proves the world attaches importance to China's efforts to eliminate poverty, said Mayor Han Zheng, adding the city will take it as a two-day course on poverty reduction.

"Through the conference, Shanghai as well the whole country can share poverty reduction experiences from around the globe," he said during a welcome banquet yesterday evening.

Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao will make a keynote speech at the conference, which has attracted leaders from key developing countries, such as Brazil, Tanzania, Uganda and Bangladesh.

A poverty reduction declaration will be released after the conference, participants said.

(China Daily May 26, 2004)

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