Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged the leaders of the so-called Group of 20 (G-20) nations to take speedy steps to ensure that the current financial turmoil does not deepen human suffering worldwide.
“We cannot allow it to become reason for neglecting other critical issues: unacceptable levels of poverty and hunger, the food crisis, climate change,” Mr. Ban said in his address at the G-20 financial summit in Washington.
This will be the first time that the G-20 summit – aimed at promoting dialogue between advanced and emerging countries on key issues regarding economic growth and stability of the financial system – has met at the level of heads of State, as well as the first time that the United Nations Secretary-General has been invited to attend.
The cost of inaction is too great, the Secretary-General stressed, warning that the “already fragile political and security situation” in many of the hardest-hit countries could take a turn for the worse.
He said that in his discussion with UN Member States, he has gleaned four key messages.
First, Mr. Ban said there is a need for a “truly global” stimulus package underpinned by “green” growth.
He emphasized the need to ensure access to liquidity for poorer nations and to curb protectionism.
The Secretary-General also said that part of the stimulus package must come from aid commitments, and welcomed the latest International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank initiatives.
Lastly, he said that “inclusivity must be our watch-word on financial reform,” backed by a new multilateralism that is “fair, flexible and responsive.”
“History will judge us sharply if we fail to live up to” the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), eight anti-poverty goals with a 2015 deadline, Mr. Ban cautioned.
He appealed for countries to “do what needs to be done” at the upcoming conference in Doha, Qatar, to review the implementation of the 2002 landmark anti-poverty agreement known as the Monterrey Consensus, as well as the next round of UN climate change negotiations in Poznan, Poland.
“These great challenges are interrelated – the global economy, climate change and development,” Mr. Ban said. “We need solutions to each that are solutions to all.”
In a letter earlier this week to the leaders attending the gathering, he wrote that institutional reforms cannot be restricted to financial sector regulation, but must deal with the broader challenges for human security, including climate change, conflict prevention and the eradication of poverty.
“It is essential that the G-20 meeting signals an unmistakable common resolve to overcome the crisis, to act together, to act with urgency and to show solidarity towards the neediest,” the Secretary-General wrote.