Frustrating déjà vu as G20 Summit risks being overshadowed by economic crisis

LOS CABOS, Mexico, June 17, 2012 /CNW/ - On the eve of the G20 Summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, World Vision Canada's food security expert, Sheri Arnott, issued the following three statements about the G20 agenda, dollars and cents and the "Canadian Approach":

G20 agenda frustration
"There's a frustrating sense of deja vu as another G20 summit gets overshadowed by an economic crisis in the EU. With debate between leaders about how to tackle austerity measures and balance the books, the voices of the most vulnerable and marginalized risk being trumped once again.

We can't forget that G20 nations together represent two thirds of the world's population and as much as 90 per cent of the global economy—therefore they have an obligation to look outside of their own borders, as well as inside. There's a reason the development agenda has moved to the G20: This combo of world leaders, emerging economies and power brokers is uniquely positioned to tackle the scourge of global poverty.

It should be humiliating to the G20 that 44 per cent of the world's malnourished children live within their borders. This tragedy alone should motivate them to multitask this week in Los Cabos and keep development on the table.

Many G20 countries were mired in widespread poverty just a generation ago, but now with financial growth and clout, they have the chance to use the G20 forum to address the remaining poverty in their own backyards and help the poorest countries learn from their successes. They have made substantial progress through economic growth and targeted social programs. Brazil, for example has been able to reduce poverty and malnutrition amongst its poorest people through their national "Zero Hunger".

The health of the global financial system is important, but not at the expense of all other global crises that the G20 can tackle. These meetings can't just be about one item on the agenda: there's too much at stake. There's a food security crisis putting more than 18 million people at risk in West Africa, we've just come through the first famine in 25 years in the Horn of Africa and are about to move into the "hunger season" again in these regions. A perfect storm of high food prices, a faltering global economy and cyclical drought is on the doorsteps of millions of people whose voices won't be represented and heard by the leaders of the G20."

Dollars and cents
"If you want to talk dollars and cents, investments in health and food security are critical to the GDP and productivity of the world's poor, many of whom live in G20 countries. We know that improving nutrition for infants and children can increase the GDP of a country by two-to-three per cent.

In May, the Copenhagen Consensus "think tank" concluded that preventing malnutrition in young children should be the top priority of policymakers and is the most cost-effective intervention they can make. For every dollar invested in reducing chronic undernutrition, $30 is generated in better health and increased productivity. For the bean counters—or finance ministers—this ROI alone should push food security and nutrition onto the G20 agenda next week where it belongs.

A basic package of preventative nutrition solutions costs just $42 per family for a year, but this cost increases by as much as five times when you have to treat instead of prevent acute malnutrition. Investments in agriculture and small-holder farmers are key to help prevent chronic hunger and malnutrition that repeatedly require aid dollars to address. Growth coming out of agriculture is much more effective than growth from other sectors in terms of raising the income of people living in poverty."

The "Canadian Approach"
"Prime Minister Harper has been talking about the "Canadian approach" to managing the Canadian economy. Canada also needs to push for a "Canadian approach" to development at the G20. Canada recently pledged $41 million for West Africa and last month at the G8 supported President Obama's New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. Given the risk of development issues being sidelined at the G20, Canada has an opportunity to leverage its global leadership on these issues to keep this momentum on food security and nutrition going into next weeks' meetings in Los Cabos."

World Vision is a Christian relief, development and advocacy organization dedicated to working with children, families and communities to overcome poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

SOURCE World Vision Canada

For further information:

Media contact in Los Cabos:
Tiffany Baggetta, World Vision Canada
416-305-9612
Tiffany_Baggetta@worldvision.ca


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