ONE reacts to G7 communique

ISE, Japan — As world leaders concluded their work at the G7 Summit here, the ONE Campaign — the global anti-poverty organization co-founded by U2 lead singer Bono now with more than 7 million members worldwide — issued the following reaction from Tom Hart, ONE’s Executive Director for North America and Asia:

“The world’s most powerful economies did a good job focusing on the world’s most vulnerable people. G7 leaders paid attention to refugees, girls and women, those who are hungry and suffer ill health, and on focusing assistance on the neediest. This welcome attention needs to translate into concrete commitments in the weeks and months ahead, particularly as donors replenish the Global Fund to fight AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, and pledge further help to displaced people.

“Global economic uncertainty underscores the critical importance of overseas development for humanitarian relief and political stability. Economic growth is the best way to lift people out of extreme poverty, and the slowdown of growth will hit those living in poverty first and hardest. G7 leaders have a responsibility to ensure that global economic instability does not force hundreds of millions more people into poverty. G7 leaders also have the opportunity for economic growth in their own countries by tapping into emerging new markets and 1 billion potential new customers in sub-Saharan Africa.

“Development efforts and humanitarian crisis relief also need to go hand-in-hand. The refugee crises in the Middle East and East Africa are not short-term problems. Long-term humanitarian disasters require long-term development strategies — strategies which, done right, can help prevent the next refugee crisis. It is encouraging that the G7 leaders mentioned the need to focus on youth in the least developed, but while leaders promised increased resources, most G7 countries have abjectly failed to deliver on increasing development assistance to respond to the urgent and long-term needs of both humanitarian crises and development.

“The amount of energy invested by the G7 leaders on the importance of supporting girls and women around the world was most welcome. Unfortunately, that energy has yielded more rhetoric than action, and this G7 has not built adequately on the start made to increase economic opportunities for women around the world started last year in Schloss Elmau. Girls and women are the key to breaking the intergenerational cycle of poverty, and because poverty is sexist, investing in the health, education, and opportunity of girls and women must be a priority for world leaders.

“Each of the G7 leaders agreed-to or supported the adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals at the United Nations last year. The goals are essentially a global framework for ending extreme poverty, and a demonstration that progress needs to be made across a wide array of areas for us to be truly successful. The G7 leaders rightly affirmed that the 17 goals are rightly ‘integrated and indivisible’ and we are pleased to see their commitment to reverse the declining proportion of development assistance being steered to the least-developed countries. The leaders are right: they can and must do a better job of targeting development assistance toward countries where the needs are the greatest. World leaders have a responsibility to look out for the most vulnerable among us.”

ON HEALTH

“It is possible to end the scourge of HIV, malaria, and tuberculosis, but only if we invest more in girls and women and fully finance the Global Fund this year. G7 leaders have again recognized that the Global Fund remains the single-best investment on the planet for fighting the spread of these diseases. We are pleased they have committed to fully financing the Global Fund’s $13 billion USD replenishment in Montreal later this year. The world has made remarkable progress in the fights against these deadly diseases over the last 15 years, largely because of the Global Fund, and for the first time ever, scientists see a pathway for not just controlling these diseases, but for defeating them. The next few years will be critical in the arcs of these diseases — and the lives of tens of millions of women living in extreme poverty — giving world leaders a truly historic opportunity to end these diseases for good by strengthening their commitments to the Global Fund in Montreal this September.” 

“With its pledge last week — an 11 percent increase in Yen — Japan joined the United States and Canada as G7 members to have made their pledges for this September’s replenishment. The European Commission also made its pledge — a 27 percent increase — in March. It’s time now for France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom to step up with their commitments. The lives of millions living in extreme poverty and the future of the AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria epidemics are now riding on what President Hollande, Chancellor Merkel, Prime Minister Renzi, and Prime Minister Cameron do next. 

“The world’s ability to withstand pandemics and other health crises depends largely on the strength of local, sustainable health systems, and the quantity and expertise of qualified health care workers. While G7 leaders recognized the need for stronger, sustainable health systems, they failed to include any specific commitments to help build them. Shockingly, the leaders appear to have ignored the profound shortage of trained health care workers and made no commitments to address it. 

“We welcome the G7’s proactive support for the Pandemic Emergency Financing Facility to ensure that the global response to future epidemics like the Ebola outbreak in West Africa are addressed quickly. Delays simply create more suffering and increase the threats to our world, and the poorest people tend to be hit the hardest.  And we need to ensure this financing is transparent so that governments can be held to account for effective delivery of their commitments. If the Ebola outbreak in West Africa taught us anything, it’s that we really are all in this together. Pandemics know no boundaries, and investments in health systems everywhere are a shared necessity. They are also critical to economic growth and political stability, as well as to the elimination of extreme poverty.”

ON NUTRITION

“Every other child under age 5 who dies dies for reasons tied to poor nutrition and, yet, the world spends less than 1 percent of its assistance to combat it. Like dangerous roads, dirty water, and a lack of electricity, poor nutrition is part of the infrastructure on which extreme poverty festers. We have simple, effective and inexpensive interventions, like vitamin A and breastfeeding, that can save millions of lives. Improving nutrition and ending extreme poverty are inextricably linked. While it is good to see G7 leaders reaffirm last year’s commitment to assist 500 million people out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, G7 leaders have let another moment for real leadership on agriculture and nutrition pass them by. 

“Leaving Ise-Shima without improving the dismally low current levels of spending on basic nutrition and without improving accountability for past commitments in agriculture and nutrition is a disappointing failure of leadership. In the coming months, G7 leaders should ambitiously ramp-up funding, particularly for basic nutrition from its currently dismal level, should complete a robust, open-data-reliant accountability framework for last year’s commitment to assist 500 million people out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, and should propose comprehensive accountability reforms for nutrition investments that will allow tracking from incoming dollars, euros, and yen in to outbound results.  

 

“The lack of basic nourishment has a profound impact on the health of people living in the poorest places in the world. One in five of all maternal deaths is caused by malnutrition – a preventable and senseless tragedy that must end. No mother should die giving life. Malnutrition is also to blame for nearly half of all deaths of children under age 5 around the world. Better nutrition has the potential to save millions of lives. Investments in nutrition are incredibly efficient, contributing to better health, education, and economic growth in the world’s poorest places.”

ON GIRLS AND WOMEN 

“Poverty is sexist. Girls and women in the developing world are hit harder in almost every regard – economically, socially, physically — and it is critical that world leaders take action to change that. G7 leaders placed special importance on girls and women at Schloss Elmau last year, with a particular focus on training, early education, and entrepreneurship. 

“It’s encouraging that G7 leaders have affirmed their interest in improving the lives of girls and women in the developing world, but they have missed the opportunity to commit to meaningful change. We will look to future summits – such as the Global Fund replenishment, World Bank-IMF meetings and others – for countries to step up to the challenge of tackling poverty among girls and women, and begin to fulfill their commitments to end extreme poverty. Girls and women are the key to ending the intergenerational cycle of extreme poverty.  

“Poverty and gender inequality go hand-in-hand. In 2016, half a billion women still cannot read, 62 million girls are denied an education and 155 countries still have laws that discriminate against women. Economically empowered women have the potential to transform their communities and their countries, putting a premium on supporting female entrepreneurs. G7 leaders had the opportunity to build on the women’s initiative created last year by expanding it to include more girls and women. It is disappointing that their neither acknowledged that initiative, nor committed to doing more to help it achieve its potential. Expanding the number of African women able to access microfinancing solutions or agricultural training through G7 programs would have been a meaningful step forward for this promising initiative. It’s disappointing that declined the opportunity this year.”

ON REFUGEES

“We commend the G7 for its commitment to continuing critical life-saving assistance to refugees and call on leaders to deliver on their promise to increase resources to address crises on the ground and invest in long-term development assistance budgets. Further, the G7 has committed to go beyond merely saving lives, and also meeting the medium- and longer-term needs of refugees, including a commitment to helping front-line states provide access to education and employment for refugees, helping them to integrate into the economic and social fabric of their host countries, and to resourcing crucial agencies on the front-line that are currently chronically under-funded, including UNHCR, WFP and UNICEF. The G7 also committed to improving coordination between development and humanitarian policy and spending – swift implementation of the ‘Grand Bargain’ that nearly all G7 countries signed up to at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul will help introduce better policies such as more multiannual financing for humanitarian agencies.

“From the Syrian refugee crisis and the Zika virus to weather disasters and extreme poverty, the need for donor assistance is at its highest level in decades – and growing. If current trends continue, by 2030, the costs of humanitarian assistance alone are projected to double to $50 billion – just when the world should be achieving the Sustainable Development Goals to end extreme poverty. But budget trade-offs are resulting in some donors becoming the single biggest recipients of their own overseas aid as they divert development resources to cover the costs of supporting refugees at home. Substantial new resources and sweeping policy reforms are therefore urgently required for the world’s most vulnerable people to have a hope of leading productive lives. The international community needs to think bigger and move faster in addressing current crises, and world leaders need to agree to invest more strategically in preventing future ones through life-saving overseas aid to the world’s poorest people.” 

ON CORRUPTION AND FINANCIAL TRANSPARENCY

“Corruption drains the lifeblood of the global economy and makes the world less secure, prosperous and just. Recent revelations disclosed in the so called ‘Panama Papers’ have highlighted the extent to which secrecy can be used for money laundering, illegal tax evasion, and other illicit financial flows. An analysis by ONE found that developing countries lose over a trillion dollars each year due to corruption, forcing the poorest people to pay the highest price for financial secrecy. If these funds could stay in developing countries, a portion could be taxed and invested in basic health and education services, and could transform the lives of millions of people.

“Earlier this month, Prime Minister Cameron hosted world leaders for an anti-corruption summit in London. Each of the G7 countries was represented at the summit, agreeing to several important steps toward reducing corruption. The G7 summit was an opportunity to make important strides toward financial transparency and reinforce the principles agreed-to at the Anti-Corruption Summit, making them a part of the G7’s global leadership moving forward and shining a light on dodgy practices by making beneficial ownership, tax reporting, contracting and other information open by default. While we are pleased that G7 leaders recognized the need for transparency and the rooting-out of corruption, we are disappointed by the lack of any new commitments in this area. G7 countries should urgently implement gold-standard policies that ensure fair play. To root out corruption, we need committed and robust action, including the public disclosure of beneficial ownership of companies and trusts.”

ON PREVIOUS G7 COMMITMENTS

“ONE is pleased to see the G7 pursuing transparency in development aid by publishing the 2016 Ise-Shima Progress Report, which comprehensively tracks 51 active G7 development commitments. At the same time, the report is the result of a negotiation amongst the G7, without peer-review. It relies heavily on self-reporting, instead of open-source data, and on measurements of financial and programmatic outputs, instead of results on the ground. This lack of transparency is evident in the new but disappointingly weak method of measuring progress against G7 hunger and malnutrition commitments. 

“We are left with whitewashed scores, unable to determine exactly how much progress they’ve made in the lives of the poorest and most vulnerable, especially women and children. Neither does the report make sense of how all of these commitments across health, education, hunger, and the rest align to help achieve by 2030 the Global Goals set by world leaders last September.   

“Still, there are a few, tempered bright spots. The G7 have rightly congratulated themselves for increased support to the Global Fund for the fight against AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria, but at that minimal rate of increase — which actually dipped in 2015 — they will face a choice in 2016. They can fall into complacency and take the risk that these diseases rebound and continue spreading for decades. Or they can seize this moment and invest with urgency, helping achieve what once seemed impossible — the defeat of AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria in our lifetime, leaving behind a historic, life-saving legacy. Progress is also inching along on commitments to provide training for women, climate adaptation and education finance to the poorest, and anti-corruption measures. We hope to see stellar progress against these commitments in the coming years. 

“The G7 should be commended for leading the way in improving transparency in development aid. The 2013 and 2016 progress reports were decent starts with good intentions, but good intentions will only get us so far. In 2019, with 11 years left to reach the Global Goals, we expect to see a G7 Comprehensive Accountability Report that sets the gold standard in transparent tracking from the moment of contribution through to measurable, better lives for the poorest, and an honest accounting of how the G7’s heroic efforts are contributing to the end of extreme poverty.”