Attention shifts from the United Nations to Pittsburgh as world leaders convene for the G-20 summit. The day-long meeting, hosted by US President Barack Obama, will assess progress toward ending the global economic and financial crises, with agenda items including further plans to regulate and stimulate the global economy, efforts to monitor and limit executive salaries, prioritizing jobs and training a new generation in green jobs, reforming the international financial institutions, strengthening recovery in the world’s poorest countries, and mitigating and adapting to climate change.
The US Sherpa Michael Froman (in charge of bringing President Obama to the summit) recently told NGOs not to expect big dollar commitments at this summit and to focus more on implementation plans. While we would’ve liked to have seen more money allocated to help the 100 million people pushed into extreme poverty because of the economic crisis, many of the previous commitments made in April at the previous G-20 summit haven’t even been met. For instance, (as Mark notes below) according to recent findings by Jubilee USA, world leaders have failed to make the grade in responding to the needs of the world’s poor. Its report card gives low marks to the G-20 for neglecting to keep their word – for instance Jubilee notes that of the $1.1 trillion promised for developing countries, only $344 billion or 31% has been delivered to date. And of the $50 billion in new resources promised to low income countries, less than half ($23.6 billion) has been delivered to date.
UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon is attending the meeting and he recently sent a letter to G20 leaders ahead of the summit outlining how to advance lasting peace and security. Although the UN hasn’t released the contents, Ban discussed elements of the letter at a UN press conference, where he stressed the need to accelerate achievement of the MDGs, provide adequate financing for climate change provide greater voice for developing countries in economic governance, prevent trade protectionism and complete the Doha Round, and accelerate job creation while protecting workers and their families.
The UN had been tasked by the G20 to monitor the impact of the crisis on the world’s poorest and earlier in the week, the Secretary-General unveiled the Global Impact and Vulnerability Alert System, which will track and collate real-time data collection and analysis. Its new website is called Voices of the Vulnerable.
So what to expect? I don’t foresee any bombshells or big commitments. However, as noted in the recent UN Millennium Campaign press release, the recession is only just beginning for poor countries and we’ve been focusing our demands on G20 leaders to:
· Allocate resources to the poor countries which most need help achieving the MDGs.
· Ensure that mechanisms to address the economic crisis do not leave poor countries in greater debt.
· Resolve the deadlock on the Doha Trade talks by putting an end to trade distorting agricultural subsidies in rich countries.
· Give poor countries a greater voice in the IMF and World Bank. The pace at which reforms are proceeding is unacceptable.
Stay tuned for more updates, including the communiqué once it’s released and our reactions to it.
And as far as protests are concerned, I’d heard that about 1000 people caused a ruckus with some people being arrested and a window smashed. Greenpeace hung a banner off the West End Bridge over the Ohio River, while other rappelled down the bridge. However the overwhelming police presence in riot gear far outweighed the few protestors I saw, most of whom carried signs to Free Tibet and legalize marijuana.