The G20 – or group of 20 – meets every year to discuss key issues in the global economy.
Collectively, the G20 economies represent 90% of global GDP, 80% of global trade and two-thirds of the world's population. It’s a powerful group. Its efforts to boost growth and fix the global financial architecture are important.
In 2009, the G20 launched a framework for “strong, sustainable and balanced growth”. They said they would clamp down on tax havens, meet their aid commitments, and make sure the world’s poorest people got food, fuel, and finance.
But too much of the time G20 leaders have put economic growth first and the interests of poor people second. It’s up to us to hold our leaders accountable.
What’s on the agenda?
This year, the G20 is being hosted by Russia on September 5th and 6th. This is Russia’s G20 agenda:
- Framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth;
- Jobs and employment;
- International financial architecture reform;
- Strengthening financial regulation;
- Energy sustainability;
- Development for all;
- Enhancing multilateral trade;
- Fighting corruption.
Oxfam will be in St. Petersburg to remind leaders that the people who have it hardest are those trapped in poverty. 1.3 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day, more than half of these people in G20 countries.
It’s critical that we convey the message that economic growth alone won’t be enough to prevent poverty escalating across G20 countries and beyond. Leaders in St. Petersburg need to agree a way to tackle widening inequality gaps, and map out growth strategies that are balanced and inclusive. Reducing inequality is not only the right thing to do, it also makes sound economic sense.
What Oxfam wants from the G20
- Clamp down on tax dodging, improve tax transparency, and stem illicit financial flows draining out of developing country economies.
- Invest in high-quality public health and education services. These are crucial both as safety nets and as investments in productivity.
- Ensure that growth is fair and boosts equality, so that its benefits reach people living in poverty. As a first step G20 countries should make inequality reduction a measure of progress alongside GDP growth.
The G20 must also act decisively toward a political solution to end the blood-shed in Syria.
More than 100,000 lives have been lost and two million people, more than half of whom are children, have fled as refugees and more are escaping each day. The financial resources of the humanitarian community to cope with this human cost are already stretched. In June, the UN launched its biggest appeal ever, but it is so far only 41 per cent funded. G20 leaders must give more to help finance the humanitarian response.
Oxfam will also urge G20 leaders to bring about an immediate ceasefire and work toward a political solution to the crisis, rather than focusing on military options. Arab voices must be put at the heart of the discussions. Military intervention carries unpredictable consequences for the region. G20 leaders should set a date for the Geneva peace talks and stick to it.
What can we do?
Sign the joint agency petition calling for President Obama and President Putin to put their differences aside, and throw their political weight behind making the peace talks a reality, and a success.
While our policy team is working behind the scenes to push for G20 policies that work towards ending poverty and inequality, we need you to help us out. Tweet your message to the G20 with #G20 and @G20rus, the official G20 Russia summit channel.
Follow our team from the G20 on @Oxfam.
Caroline Hooper-Box is Oxfam International's Media Advisor
This blog originally appeared at blogs.oxfam.org