World leaders meeting in London this week to debate a new global action plan for tackling poverty should ensure that it pushes the planet towards greater environmental sustainability and economic fairness, UK-based international development agency Christian Aid says.
UK Prime Minister David Cameron is hosting the meeting of the High Level Panel, of which he is a co-chair and which the United Nations set up to create a successor to the existing Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
In a new briefing about what should follow the MDGs when they expire in 2015, Christian Aid also urges the Panel to ensure that its meetings are just the start of consultations with campaigners and people living in poverty across the world.
"David Cameron and his fellow panel members must keep three absolutely fundamental points in mind as they design the new global action plan," said Helen Dennis, the author of the new briefing.
"Firstly, business as usual is not an option. We are using environmental resources as though we had three planets – and the world’s rich are the worst offenders, with 20 per cent of people accounting for 80 per cent of global consumption. The new action plan must set countries on paths towards greater sustainability, especially in relation to food, water and energy," she added.
Ms Dennis said the new global action plan must also look beyond aid to other means of financing development. She pointed to the need to tackle tax dodging and financial secrecy, which have led to trillions of dollars being hidden in tax havens by tax dodgers, bribe-takers, money launderers and other criminals.
This robs public services such as schools, hospitals and police forces the world over of much-needed funding – and hits hardest against poor people who rely on public provision. Christian Aid estimates that every year, tax dodging deprives poor countries of $160 billion – more than they receive in aid.
Thirdly, she added, the new action plan must “mind the gaps” and ensure work to reduce poverty benefits everyone, including minorities, women and others who have been left behind amid growing prosperity in a number of developing countries.
"Christian Aid believes there is a strong case for a universal approach to poverty and inequality – one which commits all governments to eliminating inequalities between groups, including men and women – and which requires particular attention to be paid to the most vulnerable," declared Ms Dennis.
* 'Rethinking Global Development Goals' can be read here: http://www.christianaid.org.uk/resources/policy/poverty-over.aspx