G20 Backs Funding for Climate, Food as Protesters Rage Outside
TORONTO, Ontario, Canada, June 28, 2010 (ENS) – More funding to address climate change and food security will be available through the Multilateral Development Banks, said the G20 group of the world’s largest economies in a declaration at the conclusion of their annual meeting here Sunday.
The G20 governments said they have increased capital funding to the Multilateral Development Banks by $350 billion, allowing them to nearly double their lending.
Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announces elimination of Haiti’s debt. (Photo courtesy G20)
In their closing declaration the government leaders said, “This new capital is joined to ongoing and important reforms to make these institutions more transparent, accountable and effective, and to strengthen their focus on lifting the lives of the poor, underwriting growth, and addressing climate change and food security.”
But the Toronto G-20 meeting was the object of mass protests, resulting in more than 900 arrests since June 18 police said, the largest number of arrests in Canadian history connected with a single event. Some of those arrested are still being processed at the temporary detention center on Toronto’s Eastern Avenue. Many caught up in the arrests say they were not protesting and were roughed up and detained without cause.
Toronto Police Chief Bill Blair said today that police arrested dozens and dozens of anarchists with Molotov cocktails and other weapons who were heading to a demonstration on Sunday in a heavy rainstorm.
Speaking on CBC Radio One’s Metro Morning, Blair said several hundred people were engaged in a “criminal conspiracy to attack the city.”
“I’m quite confident that close to 400 of the people that were involved in those criminal acts in our city will be held accountable and we’re continuing in that investigation,” Blair said.
Metro Toronto Police car burns as a G20 protester sings. June 27, 2010. (Photo by Barb Sawyers)
Toronto Mayor David Miller says that he will seek compensation from the Harper government after the G20 protests resulted in burned police cars and wrecked storefronts.
Winding up their meeting inside the Toronto Convention Centre on Sunday, the G20 leaders said the earthquake-ravaged country of Haiti, now facing hurricane season, will receive more financial help and will not have to repay its debts to any international financial institutions.
“We stand united with the people of Haiti and are providing much-needed reconstruction assistance, including the full cancellation of all of Haiti’s IFI debt,” the leaders declared. “We welcome the launching of the Haiti Reconstruction Fund.”
The leaders pledged more funding and more action to increase global food security. They are furthering work begun in 2009 at the L’Aquila G8 Summit in Italy where 14 countries made commitments to food security for the more than one billion people who suffer from chronic hunger.
This year’s two-day G8 meeting in Muskoka immediately before the G20 gathering focused on maternal, newborn and child health. Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced that the G8 governments committed an additional US$5 billion over the next five years, bringing the total to US$7.3 billion on the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.
G8 and G20 donor governments have invested in the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program, a new trust fund administered by the World Bank. Donors who have made commitments to the fund include the United States ($475 million), Canada ($230 million), Spain ($95 million), South Korea ($50 million) and the Gates Foundation ($30 million).
G20 protesters held in custody, Yonge St., Toronto, June 27, 2010 (Photo by Tanya Keigan)
The fund will finance medium-term to long-term elements of agricultural development in low-income countries to raise agricultural productivity with better water management by investing in irrigation infrastructure and improved land use planning, among other initiatives.
In their Toronto declaration the G20 leaders reiterated their commitment to “a green recovery and to sustainable global growth.”
The leaders view the voluntary Copenhagen Accord as the path forward for global climate change negotiations.
“Those of us who have associated with the Copenhagen Accord reaffirm our support for it and its implementation and call on others to associate with it,” they declared.
They declared their determination to “ensure a successful outcome” through “an inclusive process” at the United Nations annual climate conference being held this year at Cancun, Mexico.
“We look forward to the outcome of the UN Secretary-General’s High-Level Advisory Group on Climate Change Financing,” said the leaders. This group is “exploring innovative finance.”
G8 leaders, from left: European Commission President Jose Barroso, Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, U.S. President Barack Obama, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, European Council President Herman Van Rompuy, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper, British PM David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. (Photo courtesy The White House)
The leaders expressed their support for “phase out over the medium term of inefficient fossil fuel subsidies that encourage wasteful consumption, taking into account vulnerable groups and their development needs.”
President Barack Obama told reporters in a news conference Sunday, “The G20 leaders renewed our commitment, made in Pittsburgh, to phase out fossil fuel subsidies. The United States has laid out our plans for achieving this goal, and we’re urging our G20 partners to do so as well. This would be one of the most important steps we can take to create clean energy jobs, increase our energy security and address the threat of climate change.”
“Following the recent oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico,” the leaders said, “we recognize the need to share best practices to protect the marine environment, prevent accidents related to offshore exploration and development, as well as transportation, and deal with their consequences.”
The September 2010 Millennium Development Goals High Level Plenary will be a crucial opportunity to reaffirm the global development agenda and global partnership, to agree on actions for all to achieve the MDGs by 2015, and to reaffirm our respective commitments to assist the poorest countries, the leaders stated.
European Commission President Jose Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy at the G20 round table. June 27, 2010 (Photo courtesy President European Council)
They affirmed the importance of working with Least Developed Countries “to make them active participants in and beneficiaries of the global economic system.” They thanked Turkey for its decision to host the 4th United Nations Conference on the LDCs in June 2011.
Following the conclusion of the summit meeting of the G20 in Toronto, European Commission President Jose Barroso and European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said, “In Toronto, the G20 has proven to be what it said it would be: the premier forum for international economic cooperation. We have kept the momentum for global coordination on economic matters.”
“The EU came to Toronto with a European decision that Member States would introduce systems of levies and taxes on financial institutions. We welcome that our partners agreed to make the financial sector participate in the costs of repair, resolution and prevention and recognized the bank levy as a useful instrument,” said Barroso and Van Rompuy.
But the international aid agency Oxfam said the G20 “missed a golden opportunity to tackle global poverty when it could only agree to disagree over how to make banks repay the cost of the economic crisis.”
Oxfam spokesperson Mark Fried said, “After the G8 dropped the ball on aid, the G20 missed their chance to score against poverty by failing to move towards a Robin Hood Tax on banks.”
A small tax proposed on financial transactions in rich country markets could raise hundreds of billions annually to achieve the world’s Millennium Development Goals and help poor countries cope with climate change.
Oxfam called the G20’s decision to take a more active role in promoting development a high point of the summit, and urged the G20 to move on the Robin Hood Tax to help poor countries fight poverty and climate change.
The G20 Leaders represent: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and the European Union.
Outreach Participants include: Ethiopia, Malawi, The Netherlands, Spain, and Vietnam.
International Organizations participating include: Financial Stability Board, International Labour Organization, International Monetary Fund, Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, United Nations, World Bank, World Trade Organization
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