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G20 Leaders Urged to Build Greener Global Economy

LONDON, UK, April 1, 2009 (ENS) – Leaders of the world’s largest economies will agree a global plan for economic recovery and reform on April 2, said Prime Minister Gordon Brown after a meeting today with U.S. President Barack Obama at No. 10 Downing Street. President Obama hailed an “extraordinary convergence” ahead of the London Summit.

With the world facing a global recession, a broken financial system, job losses, food and fuel shocks, persistent poverty and growing environmental problems, the G-20 leaders are in London to hammer out an emergency package.

President Obama said, “I am absolutely confident that this meeting will reflect enormous consensus about the need to work in concert to deal with these problems.”

Prime Minister Brown said the “first duty” of the world leaders gathering in London was to the ordinary people suffering as a result of the global economic crisis and anxious about their jobs, their mortgages and their futures. The first test for the summit would be to agree to strengthened and more transparent supervision of banks, hedge funds and what is known as the global “shadow banking system,” he said.

As the leaders define their positions, a new global coalition of environmental, development, business and labor groups is calling on the G-20 to make sure their financial stimulus package is an inclusive and green one.

The coalition, which includes the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the global conservation group WWF, the International Institute for Environment and Development, along with trade union and business groups, urges the G-20 to invest in a green economy.

“We recommend that you allocate $750 billion of this stimulus package, which is around one percent of global GDP, to investments that will build an inclusive and green economy,” the coalition wrote in an open letter to the G20 leaders. “You can do this by investing in green infrastructure, such as renewable energy, sustainable transport systems, and environmentally friendly buildings which would also stimulate the creation of high quality, stable employment across a range of sectors.”

The letter urges the G20 to invest in sustainable natural resource use, supplemented by education and health care to improve the livelihoods of poor people.

The coalition recommends “protection of critical habitats and ecosystem services, to mitigate systemic ecological risks and build resilience amongst rich and poor alike.”

One organization that is also urging green investment to create green jobs was banned from the G20 summit today. G20 officials pulled the accreditation of the World Development Movement based in London, a group that campaigns for climate justice.

Benedict Southworth, director of the World Development Movement said, “I am outraged that we have apparently been banned at last minute from attending the G20 summit. We hope it’s not what it appears to be – an attempt to stage manage events and prevent voices of dissent and disagreement from being heard.”

Dr. Julian Oram, head of policy at the World Development Movement, explains the group’s message to the G20, saying, “We need a global green new deal, with at least two percent of world GDP targeted to green investment and job-generating projects. There needs to be proactive intervention in markets to support a green economic recovery with decent jobs, stronger public services and social protections in all countries, and far greater transparency and democratic control over the financial system.”

The United Nations estimates that the total financing needed to support developing countries through the crisis is at least $1 trillion for 2009 and 2010. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said last week that a quarter of these resources are urgently needed for the protection of the most vulnerable people and countries.

The secretary-general called for the “greening” of the global economy, including in poorer countries, with G-20 leaders committing to conclude negotiations and reach agreement on an “ambitious” successor pact to the Kyoto Protocol in Copenhagen this December. This treaty will limit greenhouse gas emissions when the Kyoto Protocol’s first commitment period ends in 2012.

Ban, who held bilateral meetings today in London with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband, is expected to warn the leaders tomorrow that the global recession hurts everyone, but especially the poor, who in some countries spend up to 80 percent of their incomes on food

The UN International Fund for Agricultural Development is calling on governments to accelerate agricultural development, with the financial downturn pushing millions of people, especially poor rural people, into abject poverty.

“We ignore the world’s poor farmers at our peril,” said IFAD President Kanayo Nwanze. “As we strive to recover from the current turmoil, these farmers can be part of the solution.”

Dame Barbara Stocking, chief executive of the aid organization Oxfam, is calling for the G20 countries to invest in a low carbon recovery. She says any fiscal stimulus should be used to make a difference on climate change.

Former World Bank Vice President economist Nicholas Stern, now a professor at the London School of Economics, is calling for 20 percent of any new jobs to be in renewable or green energy projects. In a joint report with Professor Ottmar Edenhofer from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research commissioned by the German Foreign Office, Stern advises the G20 nations to focus their recovery programs on energy efficiency, infrastructure and clean technology markets.

World Bank Group President Robert Zoellick said today in London that there would be a sharp slowdown in economic growth in the developing world this year, putting more poor people at risk, and the Group of 20 must not shrink from combining ideas and actions to restore confidence in the world economy.

“In London, Washington, and Paris people talk of bonuses or no bonuses. In parts of Africa, South Asia, and Latin America, the struggle is for food or no food,” Zoellick said.

“Isn’t it time to institutionalize support for the most vulnerable during crises, especially those not of their own making?” said Zoellick, who has proposed that developed countries allocate 0.7 percent of the stimulus packages to a Vulnerability Fund for developing countries.

“A commitment to put in place structures to support and fund safety nets for those most at risk would go a long way to show that this G-group will not endorse a two tier world – with summits for financial systems, and silence for the poor,” he said.

“We have seen over the last six decades how markets can lift hundreds of millions of people out of poverty while expanding freedom. But we have also seen how unfettered greed and recklessness can squander those very gains,” Zoellick said. “For the 21st Century, we need market economies with a human face.”

The G-20 includes 19 countries – Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America – and the European Union. G20 members represent at least three-quarters of global GDP, energy consumption and carbon emissions.

Copyright Environment News Service (ENS) 2009. All rights reserved.

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