Good intentions continue at G20, but promises on development are not being kept

The G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico this week was once again dominated by the Eurozone crisis, but I’ve been here with other NGOs and civil society groups trying to make sure the other global crises – hunger, malnutrition and extreme poverty – were not forgotten.

As often happens with the communiques coming out of these international summits, the language on development looks strong, and reiterates many of the past commitments the G20 has made on global poverty. It is clear that leaders continue to have good intentions, and there were some small gains made in the areas of agriculture and fighting corruption. The Mexicans ran the most open and consultative G20 so far – and the good news in they have set up further meeting in November to try and make progress on development and anti-corruption work.

But in reality the issues that affect the poorest people in the world struggled to get a look in.
Responding to the final G20 communique yesterday evening ONE’s President and CEO Michael Elliot said this:

“Political courage seems to be in short supply in Los Cabos. The G20 has consistently promised a lot, but delivered very little. If it’s not careful the G20 will rapidly become irrelevant to the most pressing issues facing the world today. Leaders must provide substance to their rhetoric by ensuring that their stated desire to address global poverty is backed up by concrete action in the months ahead.”

On food security the launch of AgResults – championed by Canada, the UK and Australia along with the US, Italy and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – is a step in the right direction. It will help drive private sector investment into innovative global agricultural solutions, particularly addressing the challenges of smallholder farmers. The leaders’ communique is clear that more countries should join in supporting it, and we hope to see it come to scale in the coming months. Michael Elliot said:

“There is more to be done if we’re to prevent millions of children suffering the consequences of severe malnourishment. The G20 set out its goals to fight the scourge of food insecurity in Cannes last year. It should now identify a clear, measurable and transparent framework for achieving them.”

ONE’s other key issue for the summit was transparency and accountability. We were looking for leaders to make progress on opening up national budgets and improving transparency in the extractive industries. The good news is the G20 leaders agreed to continue working on these issues for at least another two years, despite that the mandate of the ”Anti-Corruption Working Group” is about to expire. However, it was hugely disappointing that leaders failed to signal their support for new rules to create transparency in the extractive industries and to progress important measures on fiscal transparency. Michael Elliott said:

“Transparency, accountability and tackling the scourge of corruption are crucial to making faster progress in the fight against poverty by helping to ensure revenues are spent on vital services like health and education. It is therefore encouraging that the G20 have signaled their intent to continue their work in this area for a further two years.

“But they have made a mistake by staying silent on rules to create transparency in the oil, gas and mining sectors. Natural resources have the potential to bring wealth and stability to resource-rich developing countries. The G20 should be following the example of the EU and US, who are implementing new laws, to create a global standard. But instead they’re stalling.”

Finally, we welcome the continued focus on the need for infrastructure investment in developing countries. The G20 commissioned a report called the “Misperception of Risk and Return in Low Income Countries” – which we hope will help end the misunderstandings and stereotypes that act as barriers to investment in Africa.