G20 Rudd’s chance to show leadership in combating poverty

Campaigns and Advocacy, Media Releases article written on the 24 Sep 2009

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and other world leaders should use this G20 meeting to take urgent action to protect poor countries from the economic crisis that is forcing 100 people a minute into poverty, international aid and development agency Oxfam said today.

Oxfam Australia’s Economic Justice Coordinator, Kelly Dent, said millions of poor people around the world are being hurt by the combined impacts of the financial crisis, the food crisis, and climate change.

“The financial crisis has helped to increase the number of people facing chronic hunger to more than a billion worldwide. At the same time, the World Bank has estimated an extra 50 million people will be pushed into poverty as a result of the crisis.” Ms Dent said.

“In addition to this, poor people in developing countries are already suffering from the effects of climate change, as changing weather patterns affect their ability to grow food and threaten their homes.”

“We’ve heard a lot of urgency in the words of Kevin Rudd and other world leaders over the past couple of days around the need for meaningful action on climate change. What remains to be seen is whether his statements are just rhetoric or he is truly committed to tackling climate change and its impact,” Ms Dent said.

“It’s especially important that leaders from wealthy countries use this meeting to commit money to help developing countries adapt to and mitigate the effects of climate change. This is a crucial step towards getting a global climate deal at the talks in Copenhagen in December.”

“Money for climate change adaptation should not come from existing aid budgets, as this will only undermine the fight against poverty. We don’t want to see hard won development gains lost,” Ms Dent said.
Oxfam is calling on wealthy countries at the G20 to commit to:

  • Provide at least US $150 billion a year to help developing countries to reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change. Australia’s fair share of this is AU $4 billion (US $3.5 billion);
  • Deliver on their commitment to provide 0.7 per cent of their national income as aid;
  • Provide US $290 billion extra funding to help the world’s poor cope with the financial crisis. Part of this could be through implementing a Currency Transaction Tax. It’s estimated a tax of at least 0.005% on international currency transactions could generate US $33 billion a year.

“Existing aid levels are not enough to protect poor people from the combined effects of the financial crisis and climate change,” Ms Dent said.

“The green shoots of recovery have not reached the poorest countries, which continue to suffer in the economic downturn. There is a real danger that rich countries will scale back further their aid commitments and fail to deliver, just when poor countries need it most.”

For more information, or to interview Kelly Dent, contact:
John Lindsay on + 61 425 701 801 or via email