G20 could be headed for watershed summit
The 2011 G20 Summit could be a watershed for global stability and prosperity if leaders embrace innovative proposals on the table to benefit the world’s poorest citizens, says international agency Oxfam.
"When the global economy teeters, poor people get hit the hardest," said Mark Fried of Oxfam Canada. "Urgent measures to address hunger and inequality are on the G20 agenda. The question is whether leaders will act."
G20 proposals for a broad-based tax on financial transactions and a carbon price on international shipping, with revenues dedicated to fight poverty and climate change, are two practical solutions to help people being hit hardest by global shocks, most of whom are women, Oxfam said.
"The Canadian government is loath to support any taxes at all," Fried said, 'but the Prime Minister understands that the fiscal problems of rich countries must not be solved on the backs of the world’s poor. Surely he will not block the momentum and goodwill among other countries to make these two proposals work."
These proposals are among the innovative measures proposed in a report by philanthropist Bill Gates commissioned by G20 host French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Gates, who is determined to keep development at the heart of the G20 agenda, is to dine with the G20 leaders on the first evening of the Nov. 3-4 summit in Cannes.
Canadians want action on food prices
"The Eurozone crisis will hog the headlines but the G20 needs to act on much wider concerns," said Oxfam's Carlos Zarco Mera. "President Sarkozy has presented a bold agenda including issues that are most affecting the poorest people. The world needs a Summit of Action, not a Summit of Restating the Obvious."
Thousands of Canadians have written Prime Minister Stephen Harper to ask him to support G20 proposals to rein in rising food prices that have caused the number of hungry people to reach nearly one billion. Among the measures Oxfam backs is President Sarkozy’s call for strong regulation of commodity markets.
"The US and EU are both moving to regulate the exploding market in financial derivatives based on food commodities," Fried said. "Mr. Harper would do well to move with them to prevent derivatives from driving up food prices."
In Seoul last year, the G20 made bold promises to promote "shared and green growth," but have yet to act on them. "We’ve seen that promoting jobless economic growth doesn’t help poor people, most of whom now live in G20 countries," Fried said. "The leaders must zero in on inequality if the benefits of growth are to reach people living in poverty."
"This G20 has a mountain of skepticism to climb. Country brinkmanship and intransigence have sunk good intentions many times before today," said Oxfam's Luc Lampriere. "If G20 leaders rise to the challenge, Cannes could become a watershed for the world’s poor. Millions of hungry people are counting on them."
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Notes to editors
- Oxfam has prepared a full media briefing, G20: Courage and Ambition in Cannes.
- Oxfam Canada's Policy Coordinator Mark Fried will be at the G20 in Cannes.