PM's influence urged in poverty war

David CameronDavid Cameron must wield his influence on the global stage to secure support in the fight to tackle global poverty, MPs have urged.

The Prime Minister is co-chairing a United Nations panel tasked with recommending new international development goals and has claimed there is a "real opportunity" to eradicate extreme poverty.

MPs on the Commons International Development committee called on him to ensure new targets, due to replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) that end in 2015, are simple and measurable as well as work to get other international leaders "on board".

Sir Malcolm Bruce, who chairs the committee, said: "Aiming to eradicate extreme poverty is ambitious, of course, but for the first time in human history it is also eminently achievable. The MDGs have been successful in halving extreme poverty, but progress has been very unequal. Now is the time to focus on those who have been left behind."

An MDG to cut extreme poverty, the proportion of people living on less than 1.25 US dollars - around 78p - a day, by half has already been achieved.

The UN High Level Panel, which is also co-chaired by President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of Indonesia, is due to meet again soon before publishing a report in May that will be used to draw up new international goals.

Sir Malcolm said: "It is great that the Prime Minister has had the opportunity to co-chair such an important panel, but it is essential that he remains engaged once the panel's work is over. After the panel publishes its report, it will be at least another two years before the new goals are finally unveiled. During that time, he has a unique opportunity to get other heads of government on board, and to mobilise public opinion to support the panel's agenda."

He added: "Whatever the final content of the next set of development goals, the Prime Minister must use his influence to ensure that the goals are simple and measurable."

A Department for International Development spokesman said: "We welcome the IDC's report and will consider its recommendations carefully. The government is working to ensure that the High Level Panel develops a post-2015 development agenda that is simple and measurable and focused on poverty.

"We are committed to ensuring that future development includes addressing not only the symptoms of poverty, but also its underlying causes."