Oxfam launches their manifesto for tackling poverty at Parliament House

General, Media Releases, Organisation news article written on the 27 Aug 2008

A clear manifesto for tackling poverty in the 21st century from the international aid agency Oxfam was launched in Australia today.
From Poverty to Power, the latest of Oxfam’s once-a-decade flagship studies on the state of global poverty, raises a red flag and warns that spiralling food and fuel prices have signalled the start of a new "age of scarcity" which could drag millions of people into poverty.
The book, which is being published in countries around the world, was launched by the Parliamentary Secretary for International Development Assistance, the Hon. Bob McMullan, at Parliament House in Canberra today.
The book calls for urgent action to tackle the huge inequalities that prevent poor people from having access to increasingly scarce resources such as food, fuel and water.
Challenging the view that progress in developing countries is predominantly driven by changes in rich country behaviour, the book instead demonstrates that change happens from the bottom-up, driven by effective states that are held to account by active citizens.
Duncan Green, author of the book and Head of Research for Oxfam in Great Britain, joined Mr McMullan at the Australian launch today and said urgent action was a must.
“Unless we act quickly, the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have-nots’ will grow uncontrollably, exacerbating existing inequalities and condemning millions more people to poverty,” Mr Green said.
"For too long experts have been crossing their fingers and hoping that growth alone will be sufficient to draw people out of poverty. The fact that inequality prevents growth from being effective in tackling poverty has been largely ignored.
"The only way to end the gross inequalities that have condemned more than a billion people to poverty is through a massive redistribution of power, assets and opportunities."
Oxfam Australia Executive Director Andrew Hewett said the book argued that predominant economic thinking was not equal to new global realities, and that a "New Deal" on power, the economy and global institutions is urgently needed.
“At the heart of this approach is empowerment of poor people in communities and of poor countries in global institutions,” Mr Hewett said.
"From Poverty to Power sets out a clear manifesto for tackling poverty in the 21st century. It represents a stark warning, but also a clear vision of what we have to do and how we have to do it. The challenge is clear. As the book states: Fail, and future generations will not forgive us. Succeed, and they will wonder why we left it so long."
Duncan Green is visiting Australia until August 28. For more information about the book or to interview Duncan Green call Briony Cameron at BCME on 0413 327 118 or Sunita Bose at Oxfam on 0407 555 960