* Global downturn causes budget constraints, aid needs rise
* U.N. seeks to harness more donations from individuals
By Laura MacInnis
GENEVA, May 19 The United Nations is trying to harness donations from individuals for its aid programmes that stand to attract less government money because of the economic downturn, a senior U.N. official said on Tuesday.
Philippe Douste-Blazy, an adviser to U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on development financing, said that new campaigns would seek to draw donations on the Internet, through credit card use, and with voluntary surcharges on travel.
This could help top up government commitments to projects on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and child and maternal health, the former French foreign minister said after a meeting with top officials at the World Health Organisation's annual assembly.
This "total resource mobilisation" strategy would add to existing measures to raise funds through air ticket sales and market-related measures like the sale of child vaccine bonds, he told Reuters in an interview.
"We will also continue to fight to ensure that governments give the funds they should as official development aid," he said. "This will not allow them to lower those contributions, but instead make an added difference."
The new "I-8 Group for the Millennium Development Goals" aims to have its expanded fundraising efforts up and running by January 2010, Douste-Blazy said.
While the new plans have not been finalised, officials said they could include giving consumers the option to donate small sums when they rent cars, book hotels, or buy train tickets.
U.N. officials will also continue to try to draw more funds from the private sector, he said. This may include efforts to build on ties with existing groups such as the Global Business Coalition on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and efforts to form new partnerships.
Earlier on Tuesday, the financing arm of the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunisation (GAVI) said it has managed to raise $2 billion on capital markets since 2006 and believed it could match that sum again.
"This is just the beginning and we believe we can raise another $2 billion," said Alan Gillespie, chairman of the International Finance Facility for Immunisation (IFFIm).
"We are seeing strong demand for ethical investments such as IFFIm vaccine bonds," he said in a statement.
Geneva-based GAVI, which also has support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, helps 70 of the world's poorest countries acquire vaccines and improve their medical care. (Editing by Jon Hemming)