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G20 Wrap-up

Friday’s G20 summit was heralded as a great success by President Obama and other world leaders in attendance. During his radio address over the weekend, President Obama said:

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No pot of gold at the end of the IMF rainbow

At this weekend's IMF and World Bank spring meetings, Global ministers warned that the economic crisis risks derailing the MDGs and, in the closing communiqué, "urged donors to accelerate delivery of commitments to increase aid, and for us all to consider going beyond existing commitments."  But, in the end, they did very little to provide immediate relief to the world's poorest.

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A Wholly Different Perspective on the G-20 Meeting

The Financial Times published the leaked G20 draft communiqué yesterday in advance of the summit’s Thursday meeting in London. According (pdf) the UN Millennium Campaign, “the global economic crisis threatens to reduce development assistance by at least $4.5 billion as a result of contractions in Gross National Income, force more than 50 million more people to live in poverty and set back the fight against poverty by up to three years. Already, more than 130 million people were pushed into extreme poverty as the result of soaring food and fuel prices in 2008. This is particularly cruel and unjust given that the crisis is of the rich world’s making.” As far as the developing world and the United Nations are concerned, the communiqué reconfirms the commitment of the G20 countries to the Millennium Development Goals and promises an unspecified amount of money for "social protection" for the poorest countries.
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BSG and the MDGs at the UN

It’s not often that the United Nations serves host to celebrities, sci-fi fans, and musicians, but that was the scene last night in New York when two events pushed the boundaries in an effort to raise the profile of the UN and award humanitarian achievements. An eclectic assortment of people gathered in the General Assembly hall to listen to speeches and musical tributes at the inaugural MDG Awards launch event. Among the highlights: Macy Gray got the crowd moving to her hit, “I Try,” Simply Red’s Mick Hucknall had the crowd clapping to an a cappella number, and Somalia rapper K’naan gained new fans with his hybrid music style that blends America and African musical traditions. Other performances included Toto founder, keyboardist, singer and main composer David singing the hit, “Africa,” and remarks by Armand Assante, Sol Guy and Jonathan Granoff. Organized by the NGO, Humanitad, and hosted by Ambassador Francis Lorenzo, Deputy Permanent Representative to the UN from the Dominican Republic, the awards honored Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu and Dr. Kevin Cahill for their tireless commitment to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a global effort to end extreme poverty and hunger, provide access to education, health care, and clean water, promote gender equality, and protect the environment. The awardees spoke passionately about their efforts to create a more peaceful and equitable world, with Archbishop Tutu saying that the all of huamanity should act like one big family, caring for those who need it most. You can watch the program here:
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More Bad News

More bad news on the state of the global economy. According to a World Bank study prepared for next Saturday’s meeting of the Group of 20 finance ministers and central bank governors in London:
The global economy is likely to shrink this year for the first time since World War Two, with growth at least 5 percentage points below potential. World Bank forecasts show that global industrial production by the middle of 2009 could be as much as 15 percent lower than levels in 2008. World trade is on track in 2009 to record its largest decline in 80 years, with the sharpest losses in East Asia.
This is especially troubling for those least responsible for the crisis -- the extreme poor. The study goes on to warn of financing shortfalls of anywhere between $270-700 billion as commodity prices continue to decline, global trade collapses, trade finance and private capital flows dry up and remittances drop. The poorest countries lack the social safety nets to deal with the crisis and are becoming increasingly dependent on overseas development assistance.