Poor turnout - Page 2

Global poverty demonstration sets world record, despite lackluster U.S. showing

He said he is committed to the fight against global poverty and wants to see the government represent the values San Francisco was founded on.

"We need to shed light and bring attention to one of the largest issues facing the world today — severe poverty," Campos said. "I really believe that as a city, as a state, and as a country, we not only need to make sure we push the U.S. to follow the lead of other countries, but actually become a leader in making these Millennium goals a reality."

After the event, Campos told the Guardian: "It doesn't surprise me that more people didn't show up to the event. But part of the task is to spread the word. San Francisco has been a leader in a number of these issues in the past, and I think we should play a key role in this one."

Campos said that one solution might be to put forward a resolution before the Board of Supervisors to support MDGs and have the city take a formal position on it.

"It is definitely something we are talking about to demonstrate San Francisco's commitment to the issue," he said. "A lot of people don't know about the goals, or the fact that the U.S. hasn't really made them a priority. We need to spread the word and let people know this kind of a movement is only going to be a success if people take it upon themselves to play a leadership role."

Brian Webster, a volunteer who organized the SF event, drew attention to the large number of supporters for the MDGs in California. More than 250,000 people have signed up for the One Campaign, a global NGO that partnered with the U.N. Millennium Campaign in the events.

"For campaigners, it is now a matter of trying to join together and identify vast strategies to communicate what needs to be done," Webster said. "We will continue to educate communities, politicians, and civic leaders in what can be done this month, in the next six months, and ultimately, in the next six years."

While the Bush administration rarely mentioned MDGs while in office, many activists believe President Barack Obama's public recognition of the goals at a recent U.N. summit demonstrates a change in American policy.

"In other countries, there has been more education and awareness about the goals. But here in America, it is almost like we are starting eight years late," said Anita Sharma, the North American director for the U.N. Millennium Campaign. "President Obama has said that the MDGs are American goals and has even talked about his plans for achieving them."

Also, despite the low numbers at the San Francisco event, Sharma says more than 190,000 people from North America participated in last weekend's campaign, an increase of more than 70,000 from last year's attempt.

"It's not like Americans don't care about global poverty — in fact we give more in charitable contributions than any other country in the world," she said. "It just takes quite a lot to get Americans into the streets and mobilized. There needs to be more education out there, that's all."

Ananya Roy, a UC Berkeley professor of city and regional planning and education director of the Blum Center for Developing Economies, says she doesn't think MDGs can be achieved worldwide by 2015. Even so, she stressed the important role they played in the framework of development.

Speaking at UC Berkeley's Stand Up and Take Action Event, she said: "The goals are important because they are seen as a new global social contract that makes issues of poverty and inequality quite urgent. They also come with measurements and targets, which is meant to create accountability."

Roy placed particular emphasis on the eighth goal: building a global partnership for development. She noted that that increased awareness can change the ways the U.S.

Also from this author

  • Choosing fear over kids

    Only the U.S. and Somalia have refused to ratify the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child

  • Shades of green

    Can we spend our way to a better world, or is consumerism the problem?

  • Listen to the community

    Obama and the feds make progress, but officials say more AIDS help is still needed