Campaigners urge G20 to overhaul world economy

By agency reporter
April 2, 2009

Gordon Brown and his fellow G20 leaders must agree an overhaul of the global economy to promote jobs, justice and climate when they meet today in London, according to Put People First, an unprecedented alliance of more than 160 unions, development, environment and faith groups.

Blind faith in markets must be replaced with an economic system that works in the interests of people and planet and provides sturdy foundations for future prosperity.

Campaigners from Put People First, which includes a wide cross-section of church groups, aid agencies, cause groups and unions as well as the thinktank Ekklesia, say this means a strong package of reform including making financial institutions and multinationals transparent and publicly accountable. They also say there should be action on tax havens to stop business and rich people avoiding their social responsibilities 'at the expense of the poor'.

There are also calls for an end to efforts to push developing countries to liberalise and deregulate their economies, as well as massive investment in a ‘green new deal’ based on decent work, fair pay and increasing overseas aid.

It is hoped that real progress can be made towards a climate deal that will limit temperature increases to well below two degrees centigrade and that fundamental reform of global institutions such as the World Bank and IMF will give poor countries a say in the decisions that affect their lives.

More than 35,000 people protested in London on Saturday in support of ‘jobs, justice and climate’ – a visible demonstration that people from across the political spectrum support real change.

Barbara Stocking, Oxfam Chief Executive, said: “The time for talking by G20 leaders is over. Warm words must now be replaced by action to tackle poverty.

“The world cannot afford attempts to return to ‘business as usual’. Nor should differences between rich countries be used as an excuse for inaction. Millions of already poor men, women and children are becoming much more vulnerable, with many pushed to the edges of destitution.”

Ashok Sinha, Director of Stop Climate Chaos, said: “The heat is on to get a fair international climate change deal at Copenhagen in December that keeps global warming under 2C. The G20 is a major stepping-stone towards that goal.

“Instead of boosting more unsustainable consumption, the hundreds of billions of dollars on the G20 table for a fiscal stimulus must be used to invest away from using fossil fuels in favour of low carbon economies, as well as supporting low carbon development in poor countries.

“With bold action G20 leaders can seize the opportunity to tackle both climate change and the economic downturn together at the same time.”

TUC General Secretary Brendan Barber said: "There will be radical voices at the summit, with at least some leaders signed up for a big fiscal stimulus, a green new deal, tough global regulation and action on inequality. The question is whether those voices will carry the day. If they don't, our campaign goes on to the G8, the UN and other G20 meetings.

"This is a decisive year for the whole planet. A heavy responsibility lies on every nation to ensure that we don't just counter the recession but set in place the structures and policies that will ensure the world is never again threatened by financial meltdown and emerges as a greener and fairer place."

Ekklesia is a co-sponsor of Put People First.

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