NEW YORK, NY -- April 27, 1999 -- Cisco Systems and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) announced today that they would join forces in an effort to eradicate extreme poverty in the world's poorest nations. About one-third of the people in developing countries struggle for survival on incomes of less than $1 a day. Their extreme poverty denies them access to such basic needs as safe drinking water, adequate food and health care.
This unprecedented relationship forged by Cisco Systems - the worldwide leader in networking for the Internet - and the UNDP - the largest source of grants for development in poor nations - in collaboration with Harry Belafonte, Co-Chair of UNDP's Poverty Eradication Committee, and UNDP Goodwill Ambassador Danny Glover - has brought together the creative minds of Harvey Goldsmith, Ken Kragen, Don Mischer and Jeff Pollack, who, amongst them, have been responsible for such heralded events as "Live Aid," "We Are The World," and "Hands Across America." Together, this cooperative is creating an unparalleled global endeavor where musical artists and performers will raise their voices in the fight to end extreme poverty. To support its commitment, Cisco Systems has pledged its vast resources to develop a global website, which will serve as a powerful source of information to mobilize the world's people to action.
On October 9th, musical artists and other luminaries will join with Cisco Systems and the UNDP to unite communities and individuals through a momentous musical event to be simultaneously broadcast and netcast from three different stages - Giants Stadium in New Jersey, Wembley Stadium in London and The Opera House in Geneva. At a given moment during the event, the artists at all three venues will perform simultaneously. Christened "NET AID," this event will raise awareness of world poverty, and help the UNDP achieve its goal of eradicating poverty's worst effects by the year 2006.
In the last five years the Internet has grown into a major communications force, connecting millions of individuals. On the eve of the millennium, "NET AID" will harness the power of the Internet as never before. As part of its commitment to alleviating world poverty, Cisco Systems is creating a website, which will be maintained by UNDP. The site will be solely dedicated to serve as a clearinghouse for organizations and individuals who want to get involved in the effort, and have the infrastructure to support more than one billion hits on the Web. In addition to being stocked with information, live interviews, links and suggestions on how each and every person can help in the race against poverty, the website will also provide a conduit for contributions. In short, this site will be the ultimate resource to catalyze and inspire action.
"The Internet has the power to change the fortunes of countries, companies and individuals," said John T. Chambers, president and CEO, Cisco Systems. "There are two great equalizers in life, the Internet and education. 'NET AID's' initiatives harness the power of both to eradicate extreme poverty. Whether it's managing a micro-loan program to purchase sewing machines for a women's cooperative in Jordan, or accessing medical expertise for remote clinics in South East Asia, or educating people on how they can make a difference, the Internet can play a key role in eliminating extreme poverty."
In 1997, UNDP and 117 world leaders pledged to conquer poverty worldwide, launching the Decade to Eradicate Poverty (1997-2006). They embarked on a ten-year plan to promote employment, social integration, equity and equality among men and women, stabilize governments in indigenous areas and increase resource allocations to the least privileged areas of the world. UNDP estimates that some 1.3 billion exist on less than a dollar a day. Twenty percent, or 880 million of the 4.4 billion people living in developing countries, are undernourished and live beyond the reach of modern health services. Every year more than 12 million under-five-year-olds die from easily preventable illnesses linked to contaminated water sources, malnutrition and the absence of basic health care such as immunization.
"Poverty eradication must become a central and guiding objective of all development efforts," says UNDP Administrator James Gustave Speth. "Good health, adequate nutrition, literacy and employment are not favors or acts of charity to be bestowed on the poor by enlightened leaders. They are human rights."
Extreme poverty directly affects more than 1.3 billion people. It denies education and stifles opportunity. For the first time, an event will harness the tools of modern information technology and the Web to elicit direct, meaningful global responses to poverty, and heighten the consciousness of people everywhere about its roots and consequences. "NET AID" will provide a means to mobilize the planet - through the Internet - towards the eradication of extreme poverty in our lifetime.
Through a unique network of 134 country offices, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) helps people in 174 countries and territories to help themselves, focusing on poverty elimination, environmental regeneration, job creation and the advancement of women. In support of these goals, UNDP is frequently asked to assist in promoting sound governance and market development and to support rebuilding societies in the aftermath of war and humanitarian emergencies.