Progress in combatting poverty under threat, anti-poverty activists tell G8
top policy makers

OTTAWA, April 16 /CNW Telbec/ - The world's top policy makers got a powerful message from advocates for the world's poorest people. Promises are not enough. The G8 is $18 billion short on its commitments to alleviate poverty in developing countries, according to the OECD. The impact of climate change is worsening the lives of millions in Africa and Asia. Canada needs to hold member countries to account at this June's G8 Summit in Muskoka.

The G8 "Sherpas" - the senior civil servants who chart the course for their political leaders - are in Vancouver to finalize the Summit agenda. They held a "Civil G8 Dialogue" today with 60 global advocates from Asia, Africa, Latin America, Canada and the US. There was no disagreement that the G8 is behind on meeting its own commitments and achieving the UN Millennium Development Goals which come due in 2015.

"The good news is, we could show them real strides in education and combating diseases like TB and malaria," said Gerry Barr, Chair of Make Poverty History and CEO of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation. "But all that's sliding back from the effects of climate change, the economic crisis and especially the failure of some G8 countries to pay what they've promised."

"We tried to impress all of them with the need to get behind the Canadian initiative on Maternal and Child Health with new money for urgently needed initiatives," said Dr. Dorothy Shaw of the Partnership on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health. "We've just seen promising new statistics showing that when the right combination of interventions is implemented, the maternal death rate goes down."

The prestigious medical journal Lancet this week published a survey showing a drop in maternal mortality, especially in China and India where economic growth is rising and both governments and donors have invested more in maternal programs.

But the delegates pressing the G8 teams for an action plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and help hard-hit countries adapt, had no indication their message was heard.

"We're calling for a breakthrough plan to tackle climate change," said Zoë Caron, of WWF-Canada. "The choice is clear for the G8 this June: lead us forward in this transformation to a clean green economy." But Canada appears reluctant to take serious initiatives of its own and has decided for the first time in recent G8 history not to host an environment ministers meeting.

AIDS campaigners outlined to the Sherpas how progress on access to treatment is helping more than 4 million people with HIV. "Compared to ten years ago, it's good news, but it still falls well short of the G8's own targets for universal access." Masaki Inabata, from GCAP Japan, says the world "needs a further scale-up if we are to meet this critical need. We urge donor countries not to use the economic crisis as an excuse for not replenishing the resources needed."

The G8 has promised to make better tracking of delivery on its commitments a priority. Making rich countries accountable is welcome news to South African GCAP delegate Glenn Farred. "But a report card on how the G8 is doing is not enough. We told them we need to see a plan to ensure delivery on those promises and mechanisms to ensure that recipient countries are accountable for funding they receive."

SOURCE MAKE POVERTY HISTORY

For further information: For further information: Kelly Crichton, Media Coordinator, MAKE POVERTY HISTORY, makepovertyhistory.ca, kelly@makepovertyhistory.ca, (613) 740-1500 (office), (613) 882-7855 (cell)

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