What We’re Reading 7/2/09

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New York Times Op-Ed: Ban Ki-Moon: Come Together, Right Away
In a New York Times op-ed, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon writes of the G8 summit that “rarely have the leaders of the world’s wealthiest nations come together at a moment of such consequence.” Building on his previous call for a “truly global stimulus package,” he has sent a letter to G8 leaders urging concrete commitments and specific action to renew the world’s resolve to respond to climate change and extreme poverty in vulnerable countries affected by the economic crisis. In the letter he underscored the importance of delivering on pledges of aid to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.

Financial Times: IMF Plans Debt Issuance for Bail-Outs
The International Monetary Fund approved plans yesterday to issue its own debt to strengthen its capacity to fund bail-outs. The decision opens the way for China, Brazil and Russia to lend the institution large sums of money on an extended temporary basis, thus retaining their leverage in discussions about future governance of the IMF. Policymakers hope that by lining up ample IMF funds in advance, they can reassure private markets and reduce the likelihood of crises. Meanwhile, the World Bank has said it committed a record $59 billion in loans and guarantees to developing countries in the past year (ending June 30).

Reuters: Recession Must Not Derail AIDS Fight: UN Official
The Executive Director of UNAIDS said yesterday that he was worried that money earmarked at the Gleneagles summit for fighting AIDS in Africa could be diverted, as governments focus on reviving their own economies. Speaking at the African Union summit, he urged that the world’s rich nations not allow the global downturn to distract them from their commitment to help Africa stem the spread of HIV/AIDS. Giving one example of the funding squeeze, he said the Global Fund was $4 billion short of the amount it needed to fund AIDS projects it was already running or had committed to financing.

Huffington Post: the Italian Job: What the 2009 G8 Summit Must Deliver on Health and Aid for Africa
Patrick Watt, advocacy campaigns director of World Vision, writes in the Huffington Post that the London summit of the G20 heads of state in April and the challenges to which it was trying to respond have raised fundamental questions about the future role and relevance of the G8. Highlighting the Gleneagles commitments, he says that it is on Africa and the focal issue of health where Italy in particular, and the G8 collectively, face their greatest credibility test.

Reuters: U.S. Seen Backing Climate Target at G8
The United States will agree to a goal to limit global warming to no more than 2 degrees Celsius at next week’s Group of Eight summit, a senior European official involved in preparing the meeting said on Wednesday. President Barack Obama has promised to take far tougher action to slow global warming than his predecessor George W. Bush. The 2 degrees Celsius limit is seen by the EU and some vulnerable developing countries as the threshold beyond which climate change will reach danger levels. Washington had not previously embraced it, but the official claimed it would be in the G8 text.

FT: WTO Sees Global Increase in Protectionism
Governments around the world have continued to erect trade barriers in spite of high-profile pledges at the G20 summit and other forums to resist protectionism, according to a World Trade Organization report to be published today. Over the past three months, the WTO recorded 83 trade-restricting measures undertaken by 24 countries and the European Union – more than double the number of liberalizing measures enacted during the same period. The report also lowered its forecast for world trade this year. It says that agricultural products are among the goods most affected by the heightening protectionism.

-Grace Lamb-Atkinson

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