Global action on poverty
I’ve just arrived in Newark, New Jersey for the fourth GCAP Global Assembly, which brings together anti-poverty campaigners all over the world. My role is to represent those groups in the UK who campaign against global poverty (what used to be the Make Poverty History campaign). The big stories of the week so far are the new US policy on development and the launch of a new FTT initiative.
This Assembly is taking place immediately after the UN summit to review progress towards the Millennium Development Goals which, as is the way with these events, agreed an inoffensive statement drafted before the summit took place. Previous GCAP Global Assemblies were held in 2004 (Johannesburg), 2006 (Beirut) and 2007 (Montevideo).
On Monday, Nicholas Sarkozy of France and Jose Luis Zapatero of Spain committed to support a Financial Transactions Tax, and the Leading Group on innovative financing for development launched its call for a Currency Transaction Levy, with support from Japan as well as French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who was stung into saying ‘of course it’s impossible. So let’s do it.’
So to President Obama, who addressed the summit as it closed on Wednesday and unveiled a new US policy which he described as development rather than aid. His new approach is potentially in contrast with the way the coalition government in the UK is focusing more on immediate results rather than systemic change, which some are concerned is a shoft back from development to aid. But the US and UK share language on results and on moving away from concentrating on financial inputs. So the devil remains in the detail.