Canada blocks action on poverty at G20 Summit

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Toronto 27 June 2010 -

By delaying key actions until the Seoul Summit in November, the G20 has shown an unfortunate lack of political will to fight poverty and inequality, demonstrating the need for the group to open its doors to greater global participation.


"The G20 is once again showing a lack of political will on key issues," says GCAP co-chair and Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo.

"If we are to end poverty and fight climate change, we need to implement creative forms of financing like the Robin Hood Tax today. We must invest in clean energy and eliminate subsidies on fossil fuels. And we must promote gender equity and fight social exclusion in every policy."

"Africa needs to be at the table," says Sonia Kwami of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty. "The G20 spends time discussing plans for Africa, but we are not partners in the conversation."

The head of the African Union was invited to be an observer at this G20 summit. While this was a good first step, the African Union must be made a regular member like the EU.

"Despite a lot of hype, the G8's commitments to reduce maternal mortality were very disappointing," says Sonia Kwami of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty.

"We were hoping the G20 would step in to make a difference, but it did not. Perhaps one reason by the G20 is performing so poorly is that there are not more women at the table." The G20 includes only three women, the heads of Argentina, Australia and Germany.

Towards Seoul

The G20 has established a Working Group on Development, which is to develop an action plan that will be adopted at the Seoul Summit in November.

"The G20 has indicated that fighting poverty will be near the top of the agenda when the group meets in November," says Jiyoung Hong of GCAP Korea.

"This is great, but overseas development assistance -- including previous commitments to double aid to US $50 billion -- must be part of the plan. The G20 must not only focus on private investment, when developing countries still need money to ensure the provision of basic social services and meet the Millennium Development Goals."

Financial Transactions Tax

"The G20 leaders are divided on the issue of introducing a financial transactions tax, which could produce $650 billion dollars to promote development, mitigate climate change and reduce domestic deficits," says Dennis Howlett of GCAP Canada. "The G20 did not take action on the tax now, but the discussion will continue in Seoul in November and we look for a better result then.

"The financial sector is growing exponentially and is increasingly unproductive. Yet the G20, led by Canada's obstinacy, is afraid to make them pay their fair share."

Haiti and debt

"The cancellation of Haiti's debt provides the country with a breath of fresh air," says Michael Switow of the Global Call to Action Against Poverty.

"But the G20 must show real leadership by writing off the debts of all impoverished countries across the globe.

Every dollar spent on debt repayments, in countries from Bangladesh to The Philippines to Nigeria, is a dollar taken away from creating The World We Want, a world without hunger, a world where every girl and boy can go to school, a world where women can give birth without fear of losing their own life and a world with equal access to basic services."

Violence v. Peaceful rallies

"A bunch of pimply faced teenagers trashing shops and burning cars does not help anyone," says Rajesh Latchman of GCAP South Africa. "These hooligans obscure the real issues. They are causing as much damage as Harper and the G8's dismissal of the Gleneagles commitments."

"The mass rally attended by thousands of anti-poverty, environmental, labour, youth and NGO activists was a positive indication of how civil society is coming together and is united," says GCAP co-chair and Greenpeace International Executive Director Kumi Naidoo, who spoke at Saturday's rally at Allan Garden.

"The destruction caused by small groups of people should not overshadow the legitimate demands that are being made to a better world. The G20 must not use the violence as an excuse to ignore the demands of thousands of peaceful protestors in Toronto, the 500,000 women who die in childbirth every year and the billion plus people who go to bed hungry every night."

About GCAP: The Global Call to Action Against Poverty challenges the structures and institutions that perpetuate poverty. For more information click here.


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