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G20 Summit Gives Less Aid To Poor Countries

The G20 summit in Cannes has disappointed many aid groups who say that Europe's financial problems have overshadowed efforts to increase assistance to the poorest.

Non-governmental groups hoped this year's Group of 20 meeting would lead to new aid commitments to poorer nations. But the two days of talks here in southern France have been dominated by problems closer to home -- notably the financial crisis in Greece and concerns it might migrate to Italy, just next door.

Oxfam America policy advisor Porter McConnell, says development aid has shrunk --all the more reason to find new sources of funding.

"We did a scenario recently that suggests that aid levels were down about $9 billion projected into 2012 - projected into next year. There are diminished resources and those resources have to come somewhere," McConnell said.

In particular, she says, G20 members failed to come up with new measures to guarantee food security for the poor, including curbing food price speculation.

Microsoft chief and philanthropist Bill Gates was among many activists also urging summit leaders to come up with more development funds. One venue that did gain traction this year is a proposal to tax financial transactions -- an initiative championed by this year's summit host, President Nicolas Sarkozy of France.

At a press conference Friday, Mr. Sarkozy said a growing number of nations now support the idea of a financial transaction tax, including Germany, Spain, Argentina, Brazil and South Africa.

Mr. Sarkozy said it was also a moral obligation that the financial institutions that helped create the current economic problems be responsible for fixing them.

NGO' also praise the idea of a financial transactions tax. Oxfam's Porter McConnell:

"It's definitely feasible. An IMF report and a Gates report have both found that it's feasible to implement an FTT (financial tax transactions) on a group of countries in basis. It's very possible to do without the whole of the G20. It's just a smart, new creative response to a little money available for development programs," McConnell said.

McConnell says NGO's are also hopeful that the next G20 group president, Mexico, will put international development high on the 2012 agenda.