Has the G8 been able to deliver?
Despite its earlier rhetoric, the G8 (“Group of Eight” major economies) has fallen short of its pledges made at Gleneagles in 2005 to increase the quality and quantity of their aid and “keeps failing the tests it [the G8] sets itself” as was observed in September 2010 by Jeffrey Sachs and Steve Killelea in a report titled Holding G8 Accountability to Account.
As of 2010, just over 40% of the US$25 billion promised to Africa has been met. To put that into perspective, more money was spent on stimulus packages to ailing banks in the US during the 2007-2010 global financial crisis than has been delivered in aid to Africa across history.
Influence of United Nations.
The United Nations has unique convening power but has been seen many times over the last 60 years as unable to enforce commitments. Will the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) present a similar disappointment to the outcome of the 2009 Copenhagen United Nations Climate Change Conference? What will happen in 2016 if the 2015 time horizon for the MDG is failed to be achieved?
What difference does an individual really make? Do acts of ‘global citizenship’ count? None of us have the luxury of knowing in advance when and where a certain action will be the lever that shifts the planet. The laws of physics are immutable: “Put force against a lever, and something moves“. Might our actions be the force that shifts that lever? Recent elections in Western democracies have shown how the voice of a handful individuals might have swayed a decision affecting entire countries either way- US (Florida, 2000); UK (May 2010); Australia (August 2010).
Life Bridge is calling on global citizens to help create a ‘life bridge’ to shape decisions made by influential bodies like the G20.
We seek to influence global leadership to specifically address ways to improve delivery of child survival by pledging to “focus on concrete measures…to make a tangible and significant difference in people’s lives” (wording taken from G20 Seoul Summit Declaration).
During the 10 City Bridge Run, a Design Forum will be held to identify what specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-specific decision for all countries to commit might be defined as part of a broader global response.
No one wants to leave a legacy of small change. We can act, and so we should.
Decisions made by G20 (‘Group of Twenty’ major economies)
The Group of Twenty (G20) comprises 19 countries and the European Union. G20 members account for 85 per cent of the world economy, 80 per cent of global trade, and two-thirds of the world’s population.
The collective economic weight of G20 members gives the forum a unique capacity to tackle development challenges that require a systemic and coordinated response. The mix of developed and developing countries in the G20 creates opportunities to share experience and cooperation across traditional donor / beneficiary boundaries. Coordinated action by the twenty most significant economies on development challenges can make a big difference to poverty reduction in low income countries.
Toronto G20 Summit June 2010
The G20 Toronto Summit Declaration from June 2010 stated:
We recognize that 2010 marks an important year for development issues. The September 2010 Millennium Development Goals (MDG) High Level Plenary will be a crucial opportunity to reaffirm the global development agenda and global partnership, to agree on actions for all to achieve the MDGs by 2015, and to reaffirm our respective commitments to assist the poorest countries.
In this regard it is important to work with Least Developed Countries (LDCs) to make them active participants in and beneficiaries of the global economic system. Accordingly we thank Turkey for its decision to host the 4th United Nations Conference on the LDCs in June 2011.
Narrowing the development gap and reducing poverty are integral to our broader objective of achieving strong, sustainable and balanced growth and ensuring a more robust and resilient global economy for all. In this regard, we agree to establish a Working Group on Development and mandate it to elaborate, consistent with the G-20’s focus on measures to promote economic growth and resilience, a development agenda and multi-year action plans to be adopted at the Seoul Summit.
Seoul G20 Summit November 2010
The G20 Seoul Summit Final Declaration, the Seoul Summit Document: Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth and supporting Annexes (Annex 1: Seoul Development Consensus for Shared Growth, and Annex 2: G20 Action Plan on Development) can be summarised with the following extracts in how the G20 see their responsibilities in tackling extreme poverty:
We, the Leaders of the G20, are united in our conviction that by working together we can secure a more prosperous future for the citizens of all countries.
The Seoul Development Consensus for Shared Growth that sets out our commitment to work in partnership with other developing countries, and LICs [Low Income Countries] in particular, to help them build the capacity to achieve and maximize their growth potential, thereby contributing to global rebalancing. The Seoul Consensus complements our commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and focuses on concrete measures as summarized in our Multi-Year Action Plan on Development to make a tangible and significant difference in people’s lives, including in particular through the development of infrastructure in developing countries.
We welcome the Fourth UN LDC Summit in Turkey and the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness in Korea, both to be held in 2011.
The crisis disproportionately affected the most vulnerable in the poorest countries and slowed progress toward achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). As the premier economic forum, we recognize the need to strengthen and leverage our development efforts to address such challenges.
The Seoul Consensus and the Multi-Year Action Plan are based on six core principles:
- First, an enduring and meaningful reduction in poverty cannot be achieved without inclusive, sustainable and resilient growth, while the provision of ODA [Official Development Assistance], as well as the mobilization of all other sources of financing, remain essential to the development of most LICs.
- Second, we recognize that while there are common factors, there is no single formula for development success. We must therefore engage other developing countries as partners, respecting national ownership of a country’s policies as the most important determinant of its successful development, thereby helping to ensure strong, responsible, accountable and transparent development partnerships between the G20 and LICs.
- Third, our actions must prioritize global or regional systemic issues that call for collective action and have the potential for transformative impact.
- Fourth, we recognize the critical role of the private sector to create jobs and wealth, and the need for a policy environment that supports sustainable private sector-led investment and growth.
- Fifth, we will maximize our value-added and complement the development efforts of other key players by focusing on areas where the G20 has a comparative advantage or could add momentum.
- And finally, we will focus on tangible outcomes of significant impact that remove blockages to improving growth prospects in developing countries, especially LICs.
The Seoul Consensus also identifies nine key pillars where we believe actions are necessary to resolve the most significant bottlenecks to inclusive, sustainable and resilient growth in developing countries, LICs in particular: infrastructure, human resource development, trade, private investment and job creation, food security, growth with resilience, financial inclusion, domestic resource mobilization and knowledge sharing.
We acknowledge that the impact of the recent crisis demonstrated a global interconnectedness that is disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable in the poorest countries. It has been estimated that, as a result of the recent crisis, an additional 64 million people will be living in extreme poverty (i.e., living on less than USD 1.25 a day) by the end of 2010. We therefore have a responsibility to fulfill.
The G20 has a role to play, complementing the efforts of aid donors, the UN system, multilateral development banks (MDBs) and other agencies, in assisting developing countries, particularly LICs, achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Our role must relate to our mandate on global economic cooperation and recognize that consistently high levels of inclusive growth in developing countries, and LICs in particular, are critically necessary, if not sufficient, for the eradication of extreme poverty.
Focus on feasible, practical and accountable measures to address clearly articulated problems that are serious blockages to significantly improving growth prospects for developing countries. Such measures should have the potential to provide tangible outcomes and be significant in impact. Implementation of G20 action on development should be monitored through an adequate accountability framework.
In close consultation with our developing country and LIC partners, as well as relevant international and regional organizations with development expertise, we have also identified nine areas, or “key pillars,” where we believe action and reform are most critical to ensure inclusive and sustainable economic growth and resilience in developing countries and LICs. These areas are:infrastructure, private investment and job creation, human resource development, trade, financial inclusion, growth with resilience, food security, domestic resource mobilization and knowledge sharing. Creating optimal conditions for strong, sustainable and resilient economic growth in developing countries will require reform and transformation across each of these interlinked and mutually reinforcing key pillars.
Guided by our development principles and oriented around the key pillars, we have developed the following Multi-Year Action Plan on Development. We believe these action plans address some of the most critical bottlenecks to strong and sustainable economic growth and resilience in developing countries, in particular LICs, and have high potential for transformative, game-changing impact on people’s lives, helping to narrow the development gap, improve human rights and promote gender equality. We commit to full, timely and effective implementation of these action plans and, to this end, will continue to closely monitor their progress, in synergy with other processes, including preparations for the Fourth High-Level Forum on Aid Effectiveness to be held in Korea in late 2011.
Should we be surprised that child mortality is not mentioned specifically? Perhaps not. Maybe we ought to be concerned, however, that ‘extreme poverty’ is described like a condition that can be entirely eradicated by market forces.
There is not one key issue at the heart of extreme poverty, but from an economists point of view, in the long term addressing improved delivery of child survival stands to provide significant benefit to many.
The 10 City Bridge Run seeks to leverage change by appealing to global leaders to specifically address improved delivery of child survival through action that “focuses on concrete measures…to make a tangible and significant difference in people’s lives“.