G20 wraps up, but leaves those in poverty behind

How could world leaders simply ignore the nearly one billion people living in poverty? That’s the question that many international aid agencies are asking as this year’s G20 Summit comes to a close. The self-designated forum for global economic issues, they seem to have forgotten the "global" part. While Mexican President Felipe Calderon set out an ambitious agenda for the summit including food security, sustainable development and climate change, most of the discussion was focused around the Euro crisis.

After all is said and done, the G20 Summits are usually analyzed by the “communiqué”, a final document detailing the progress (or lack thereof) that has been made during the 2-day summit. Oxfam policy experts have combed through this document to determine what’s been decided on our key issues. Let’s break down the results:

  • Food security and food price volatility: We were calling on G20 to take action on commodity speculation, biofuels, and emergency food reserves. Despite some light discussion during the summit, neither biofuels nor food price volatility, both key drivers of food insecurity, have received any attention in the communiqué. Business leaders (at the adjunct B20 Summit) made recommendations for global food security by supporting small-scale farmers in developing countries, but the governments of the G20 didn't give these most vulnerable food producers a second look.
  • Reducing inequality: Oxfam's been pushing for reducing inequality through transformational health and education services, financed through fairer tax systems, and also to systematically measure inequality as well as growth. Despite some progressive language, there was no actual action to tackle inequality through investing in essential services like health and education.
  • Tax dodging: Tax evasion billions of dollars every year in illicit outflows. We wanted the G20 to agree to mandatory country-by-country reporting on tax, and recommit to tackling tax havens. On this issue, some light has shone through, as leaders have encouraged all countries - including tax havens like Switzerland and Luxembourg - to adopt a multilateral convention which forces them to share information on their tax practices. This could plug the leak of hundreds of millions of dollars from poor countries.
  • Innovative financing for development: Oxfam pushed for the G20 to promote new sustainable sources of development finance, including a fair deal on carbon pricing of maritime shipping; and call on Europe to implement a set of financial transaction taxes. Collectively, the G20 showed no interest in taking forward new sources of financing for development, and ignored strong options proposed by Bill Gates last year. However, French President Francois Hollande seemed very optimistic duirng his closing press conference about France and other willing countries moving ahead with an FTT, despite the lack of mention in the official communiqué.

Overall, this is a hugely disappointing outcome for developing countries, as G20 leaders were fixated on Europe, and managed to get away with skimming the surface of development. However, there were glimmers of hope with improvements on tax transparency, which could uncover billions in much-needed income for developing countries.

Oxfam will continue to advocate strongly for policies that help communities lift themselves out of poverty and hunger. We’re dedicated to the movement to ensure food for all. We thank our loyal supporters who've stuck by us, and ask that you keep up the good work!

Special thanks to those who shared their messages to the G20 on Twitter with our #tweetG20 campaign! Check out a few of the tweets below. And stay tuned as we continue on the path to a future without hunger.


Join Oxfam's GROW Campaign to help fix the global food system!

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