A Focus on Poverty, Economic Reform and Climate Change
In 2010 Canada will play host to the world. The Vancouver Olympics and the G8 and G20 Summits in Muskoka and Toronto will draw the attention of millions to Canada, its geography, its values, policies and practices. If 2008 was the year of China, then 2010 can be the year of Canada. Around the globe, Canadians proudly sport the Canadian flag in traveling as a symbol of Canadian democracy, openness and concern for human rights. Yet our great international achievements of the past—Canadian contributions to the establishment of international peacekeeping, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Ottawa Treaty to Ban Landmines and the International Criminal Court—are today clouded by concerns about Canada’s current role in climate change negotiations, Afghanistan, reform of the global economy and addressing global poverty.
Group of Twenty
A Focus on Poverty, Economic Reform and Climate Change
New loans for LICs: IMF “with a human face” or “a mask”?
At the end of July, the IMF announced “unprecedented” increases of concessional (grant/low-interest) lending for low-income countries (LICs) ($8 billion in the next two years; up to $17 billion by 2014), zero interest on new and existing loans through 2011, greater loan flexibility, and a set of new instruments to channel the increased support (Extended Credit Facility for flexible medium-term support; Standby Credit Facility for short-term and precautionary needs; and Rapid Credit Facility for emergency support with limited conditionality). The shift also came with assurances from Fund Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Khan that new programs would focus on poverty reduction, economic growth, and safeguards on social protection. In addition to the anticipated new resources, IMF membership also greed this month to a new general allocation of Special Drawing Rights (see “Agreement…” in this issue).
Italian G8 serves primi piatti for 2010 G "?" in Canada
Key among the issues addressed at the recent G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, were food security, global warming, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and accountability. One of the key outcomes was a three year US$20 billion pledge made by the G8 countries and international institutions, including the World Bank, to boost agricultural production in developing countries. This is seen as one of the biggest aid shifts in decades, to an issue that has been neglected for far too long. But a history of broken promises still has NGOs and civil society on their guard - the G8 pledge at Gleneagles in 2005 of $50bn in development aid by 2010, with half to Africa, is still short by $15bn. G8 leaders also agreed, as developed countries, to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 per cent as of 2050, although the Canadian government indicated after the Summit that it would not be budging from its commitment to reduce emissions by 60 to 70 percent by 2050! On poverty, with many of the MDGs - such as reducing the number of women dying in childbirth - already way off track, the summit agreed to a proposal by Gordon Brown to provide an assessment at the 2010 Canadian G8 summit on how the MDGs could be attained in time. Finally, on accountability, the G8 leaders agreed to develop a comprehensive framework to monitor progress on G8 promises, strengthen the effectiveness of their actions, and publish a full report in time for 2010.
G-20 response to financial crisis - money, money, money
All eyes were on the Group of 20 (G-20) this month as they met in London and announced a whopping $1.1 trillion to stimulate the global economy. The impressive figure and various commitments on tax havens, regulation, and boosting the IMF’s lending capacity (See “Just the Facts”) grabbed the headlines and saw stock markets respond positively the next day.
Government response on CSR and extractives: Fool’s Gold
For two years, parliamentarians, civil society, industry and the Canadian public have waited for the Government of Canada to issue a response to the ground-breaking consensus report from the National Roundtables on Extractive Industries (see IU March 2007). Against great odds, that process produced a consensus document, endorsed by industry and civil society, on a program of policy reform regarding the overseas operations of Canadian extractive companies that would make Canada a leader on the world stage.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper
Prime Minister of Canada
Office of the Prime Minister
80 Wellington Street
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A2
Re: Forthcoming G-20 meeting on the global financial crisis
Dear Prime Minister:
As you head to London next week for the second Group of Twenty (G-20) meeting, we are writing to urge Canadian leadership on four key issues related to the impact of the financial crisis on poor countries that we feel have been neglected up until now.
To date, your government has focused primarily on addressing the immediate fallout of the financial crisis, and has taken steps to restore the flow of credit and consumer confidence, boost spending, and create jobs. Canada has also encouraged G-20 countries to avoid protectionist measures that will only exacerbate the current climate.
New bill on CSR puts government house in order
This month Liberal MP John McKay introduced a private members’ bill (see Just the Facts) that imposes tighter controls on the provision of government support to Canadian extractive companies. Numerous studies have highlighted the significant environmental and human rights impacts of oil, gas and mining operations overseas. In 2005, a report by the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade (SCFAIT) drew attention to the fact that some Canadian extractive companies, which are responsible for adverse impacts, receive financial and political support from the Canadian government.
Europe looking to lead on response to financial crisis
A warning against US (and Canadian?) opposition to a new international architecture of institutions and tighter regulations to manage a more “moral” form of global capitalism, a flexible Economic Council within the United Nations, and an economic sustainability charter that establishes the rules for global financial governance, were three of the key themes raised by German Chancellor Angela Merckel and French President Sarkozy at a high-level symposium hosted by Sarkozy and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair in Paris this month.
Financial crisis a boon for ECAs
While hefty public bailouts of the financial and auto industries have stimulated debate on the role of governments in commercial markets, one form of government subsidy has flown beneath the proverbial radar: export credit. Confronted by an increasingly dire financial crisis, Western governments are using their export credit agencies (ECAs) to boost liquidity and rescue faltering industries. At an extraordinary World Trade Organization meeting last month, participating governments reported a 30% increase in ECA business over the previous 12 months. The WTO called for even greater reliance on public credit to lessen the burden on commercial banks. Shortly afterwards, the OECD announced an agreement with non-members, including Russia and Brazil, to provide markets with publicly-sourced export credit.
G-20 Summit – financial response to a development crisis
With the global economy continuing its downward spiral, ambitions for the first Group of 20 (G-20) “Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy” in Washington were sky high. In contrast, expectations in terms of concrete outcomes, with diverging opinions on key issues going into the meeting and a pretender at the throne in DC, couldn’t have been lower.