Groups urge G20 not to ignore development agenda

Fri Oct 28, 2011 6:53pm EDT
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By Lesley Wroughton

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Global development groups on Friday called on G20 leaders to step up to their commitments to tackle global food security and come up with new ways to boost world growth that also benefit the poorest.

With Europe's sovereign debt crisis set to dominate the G20 summit on November 3-4 in Cannes, France, there is concern leaders will avoid firm decisions to address increased global food price volatility and new ways to finance development.

"The challenge for the G20 is can they see beyond the immediate crisis to what is needed to ensure broader prosperity," said Samuel Worthington who heads InterAction, an alliance of U.S. based international development groups.

French President Nicholas Sarkozy has called for progress to address rising food prices and infrastructure development. He asked billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates to come up with innovative ways to raise resources for poor countries.

In an op-ed published in the Washington Post on Friday, World Bank President Robert Zoellick said the world economy was not only hobbled by large deficits and troubled banks but also by joblessness and slow growth.

"Together all nations must at least agree not to do dumb things -- such as retreat to protectionism or trade wars. The G20 also must offset the damage to the poorest which do not sit at the table," he wrote.

The debt crisis in the euro zone and budget cuts in the United States to address high government debt have squeezed foreign aid.

House Republicans have proposed cutting another $8.6 billion from the budget for the State Department and foreign aid in fiscal 2012 starting October 1. Such cuts have led to thinking about new sources of aid for development programs.   Continued...