JAKARTA (AFP) - South Asia is lagging behind the Asia-Pacific region in poverty and hunger reduction, and is in danger of missing these key targets in the UNs millennium development goals, a UN official said Tuesday. Ministers from around the region gathered at a review of the goals (MDGs) heard that despite significant progress, large gaps remain in the crucial measure of poverty reduction. Senior officials told delegates from dozens of countries that global food, energy and financial crises in recent years had jeopardised progress toward achieving the goals set for 2015. The sharpest reductions in poverty worldwide continue to be recorded in eastern and southeastern Asia, where the target of halving extreme poverty has already been met, UN Under-Secretary-General for Economic and Social Affairs Sha Zukang told the meeting in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. Most of southern Asia, however, is in danger of not halving extreme poverty rates by 2015, and the prevalence of hunger there has actually increased slightly between 2002 and 2007. He called on governments around the world to do more to meet the development targets. With just five years to go until 2015 it is crucial that policies are changed or tightened now, he said. The conference gives Asia-Pacific ministers and institutions a chance to take stock ahead of a world summit on the millennium targets scheduled to take place at the UN in New York next month. Indonesian Vice-President Boediono told the meeting the international financial crisis had made achieving these goals harder and pointed the finger at rich countries for failing to honour aid pledges. Efforts to promote development have suffered in the wake of the financial crisis and commitments made by developed countries have been missed, he said. Despite the return of robust growth in developing countries, severe disparities and major development challenges remain. A UN background briefing prepared for the conference said that between 1990 and 2007, the Asia-Pacific region had almost halved the proportion of the population living below the poverty line of 1.25 dollars a day. But it said there had been less success in other benchmarks such as hunger, with the proportion of children under five years of age underweight falling only to 28 percent from 36 percent. Eleven Asia-Pacific countries with poverty rates above five percent of their populations are likely to miss the income-poverty target, including Bangladesh, Georgia, India, the Philippines, Sri Lanka and Uzbekistan. Given the global economic uncertainty, many countries had tightened spending on programmes designed to improve millennium goal indicators such as poverty, education, gender equality and environmental sustainability. Achieving the goals in all the indicators across the region would mean additional spending until 2015 of 636 billion dollars. For the region as a whole, the costs may not seem daunting, but for individual countries they can be steep, the briefing paper said. Additional money could come from a variety of sources including better managed tax systems and even a 0.1-percent tax on global foreign exchange transactions, which could raise about 640 billion dollars a year, it said. As a stepping stone towards a global tax the countries of Asia and the Pacific could cooperate on a regional version, it added.