Last weekend we had the distinct pleasure to attend an informative lecture given by a high ranking officer at the United Nations. The topic was the history of the United Nations, its current structure, and an in depth presentation of the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals. These complex subjects were brilliantly presented by the Chief of Policy Coordination at the U.N. Department of Economic and Social Affairs, Mr. Neil Pierre. Mr. Pierre spoke eloquently about his department’s mission in his talk titled: "Leaving No Nation Behind: Putting Poverty and Sustainable Development at the Center." What was equally as impressive as the talk itself was that this event took place in the pleasant setting of Maple Street School in Manchester, rather than at a college or urban convention hall!

We learned about real progress since the creation of the Millennium Goals in 2000, including the rate of decline of poverty across the world. We learned of the countries which have actually cut poverty in half and others who have not made any impact in decreasing poverty over the last nearly 15 years. We learned how developed countries will be included in future work of the millennium goals because of financial inequality which has become more prevalent in some developed nations. All of the 8 Millennium Goals are profound and challenging and yet so crucial to advancing the economies, health, human rights and equality in societies across the globe.

Mr. Pierre was the first speaker in a three part lecture series conceived by the Mark Skinner Library along with collaborating partners. The remaining two lectures will be held in May and will be presented by U.N. Ambassadors. The lectures are timely and interesting, entitled: "The Call for Peace and Security" and "Women, Peace and Security." Once again, these events will be held in our town, free of charge. We congratulate the sponsors who give our community opportunities to become engaged in our world’s challenges. These talks are especially important for students who have interest in international relations, politics, law, international development, etc.

If you have ever questioned if the United Nations is still relevant in today’s world, we believe you will have ample information from first hand sources to help you make up your mind. We were inspired by the work of the U.N. to achieve the Millennium Goals and look forward to attending the next two discussions -- unique and extraordinary opportunities to hear from United Nation Ambassadors. You can find more information on this important work at http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/.

MARIE GEORGE AND ROBERT MCLEISH

Manchester Center