Anti-poverty groups warn G20 on aid pledges

SEOUL — Anti-poverty charities Thursday welcomed the move to put development on the G20 summit agenda, but warned a new approach focused on growth must not be used as an excuse to wriggle out of aid promises.

By (AFP)

Published: Thu 11 Nov 2010, 4:05 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 11:24 AM

“That’s got to be the worry — that there’s the appeal of the new, and that promises that are quite painful to deliver in the current climate are gone,” said Adrian Lovett, global campaign director for Save the Children.

A draft G20 development communique leaked to the Financial Times on Tuesday was quoted as backing a tailored approach to development based on “resilient growth” with a strong emphasis on infrastructure.

“It’s clear that they see infrastructure and growth as more important than aid — that’s why I mention the importance of us not rolling back from hard-won achievements from social investment,” said Oxfam executive director Jeremy Hobbs.

Cautioning that the quoted draft was dated last week, he said charities would have to wait to see the final version, but “we need to see the money... and we need to see what happens in practice”.

World leaders have gathered in Seoul for the wo-day G20 summit starting Thursday, set to be dominated by distortions in global trade and accusations of currency manipulation.

But host South Korea has added development to the agenda after their own quickfire transition from aid recipient to major donor — a move that Save the Children, Oxfam and other charities praised at a briefing Thursday.

The FT said the summit would attempt to create a new “Seoul consensus” on development, and quoted unnamed officials working on the communique as saying most poverty reduction stemmed from growth and not aid.

Hobbs said growth was crucial to development but added: “Without strong social investment, investment in health and education, small farmers... people cannot realise that growth across the board.”

Oxfam is lobbying for a financial transactions tax — also backed by the EU presidencies — which Hobbs said should finance development and “end the farce of passing round the hat at the G8 trying to get the money together”.

Save the Children said that of 25 billion dollars promised by the G8 countries in 2005, just 12 billion has been delivered, and warned that development progress could be derailed by the economic crisis.

But the group said 40 million more children had entered school in the last 10 years thanks to international aid, despite a “serious shortfall in delivery” of pledged support.

Pre-summit wrangling has however been dominated by macroeconomic questions such as currency and trade imbalances, which key figures such as US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner say could derail global economic recovery.

“Poor people’s interests must not become casualties of the focus on currencies,” Oxfam’s Hobbs cautioned Thursday.

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