Activities at World Social Forum (WSF) at Porto Alegre, Brazil and World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos:
Launch of GCAP @ World Social Forum; Brown Pledges @ World Economic Forum
Launch of global poverty movement sets challenges to world leaders
Porto Alegre, Jan 27 2005 - The Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP), the biggest ever global mobilization to hold governments accountable for the promises they made to eradicate poverty, was launched today at the World Social Forum in Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Brazilian President, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, expressed his solidarity and support for the global call and delivered a speech before the 12.000 people that gathered at the Gigantinho stadium wearing white bands, the symbol of the campaign.
The Global Call to Action against Poverty is a worldwide alliance of hundreds of organisations. These comprise grassroots organizations, trade unions, women's groups, non-governmental organizations, human right advocates, international civil society and faith groups. The campaign is calling on world leaders to fulfill their commitments on trade justice, more and better aid and full debt cancellation. It is also demanding transparency and accountability from all governments in their plans to eliminate poverty and reach the Millennium Development Goals.
Speaking at the launch today, John Samual on behalf of GCAP said, 'We need a shift in national and international policies and agendas. At a time when bombs, security and terror dominate the political agenda it's imperative to bring poverty into the centre of government thinking. We just can´t afford to keep quiet when 50,000 people die of poverty related causes every day and the rich and the powerful chose to ignore it. GCAP is a wake up call to people in both rich and poor countries to mobilize and force their governments to take action."
Leaders around the world have made endless promises to end poverty. In 2000, they committed to halving extreme poverty and hunger by 2015 by signing the Millennium Development Goals; to establish fair trade rules at the World Trade Organization development round in 2001; and to end the burden of debt that forces low income countries to pay $100 million every day to their creditors.
The truth is that little has been done. At the current rates of progress, it will take more than a 100 years, not ten, for many countries to achieve the Millennium Development Goals", says Wahu Kaara, a GCAP representative from Africa.
During 2005 millions of people are expected to demand that world leaders fulfill their promises at three key "White Band Days": the G8 summit in July in UK, at the UN General Assembly in September and in December at the WTO Ministerial meeting in HK. The white band is a symbol of the united call to end poverty once and for all.
This is a really crucial moment in the global fight against poverty. We are a massive and diverse group which has come together this year to demand change. It is high time for rich countries to take action on trade justice, improved aid and debt cancellation. So, our message today is that united we cannot be ignored by our governments," said Coumba Toure from GCAP Africa who presented President Lula with a white band during the launch event.
The GCAP demands that in 2005 world leaders:
· Immediately end dumping and rich country subsidies that keep people in poverty.
· Enact measures to protect public services from enforced liberalisation and privatisation, secure the right to food and affordable access to essential drugs and strengthen corporate accountability
· Increase accountability and transparency of governments and international organizations in the formulation of international trade rules and national trade policies.
· Give more, untied and better aid now to achieve the Millennium Development Goals.
· Meet the agreed target of 0.7% of national income in overseas aid.
· Ensure aid is directed towards achieving development objectives.
· Cancel debt - rich countries, the World Bank and the IMF should cancel 100% of the debt of the poorest countries in order to reach the Millennium Development Goals.
· National efforts to eliminate poverty and to reach the Millennium Goal that are developed and implemented in a way that is democratic, transparent and accountable to citizens.
GCAP launched at the World Social Forum
More than 12,000 people attend the launch of the Global Call to Action against Poverty at the World Social Forum in Porte Alegre, Brazil.
Today the biggest ever mobilisation against poverty was launched at the World Social Forum in Porte Alegre, Brazil. The Global Call to Action against Poverty is a worldwide alliance of hundreds of organisations which are calling on world leaders to fulfill their promises to end poverty.
More than 12,000 people crowded into a sports stadium to witness the launch and thousands more filled the streets outside. President Lula of Brazil attended to express his support and Coumba Toure of the Africa Network Campaign on Education For ALL, took the opportunity to tie a white band - the symbol of the campaign - around his wrist. Lula then lifted his arm to cheering crowds.
President Lula went on to talk about the importance of developing countries joining together to make sure that the voices of people living in poverty are heard. He mentioned that there have been significant steps in this direction but that in 2005 there's going to be a huge movement from southern leaders to create the conditions for addressing the causes of poverty.
There were many powerful speeches throughout the launch from people representing regions all across the globe. Wahu Kaara from the All Africa Conference on Churches laid down the gauntlet to world leaders, telling the crowd: ' Let's make poverty history because there are no excuses anymore. We will wear the white band to continually remind our leaders of their responsibility to fight poverty'.
The overwhelming message of the launch was one of hope and belief that GCAP will make a huge impact in the fight against poverty this year. Coumba Toure said '...you can buy a bird for 50 cents and if you free the bird it will bring fortune to your life. I realised that you had to catch the bird before freeing it. GCAP is not about buying freedom - it's about breaking the cage'.
Brown in 100% debt relief pledge
By Tim Weber
Business Editor, BBC News website, in Davos
The world's seven richest countries - the G7 - should offer poor countries 100% debt relief, UK Chancellor Gordon Brown has said.
Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Mr Brown said he hoped to persuade his colleagues to commit to the goal by the end of the year.
His pledge has already won support from France's new Finance Minister, Herve Gaymard.
Both politicians promised to engage with Global Call to Action Against Poverty, a pressure group formed on Thursday at the World Social Forum in Brazil.
Held to account
Mr Brown also promised that the current round of trade talks would be the "first that is in the interest of developing countries".
Next Friday's meeting of the G7 finance minister would put debt relief and development issues at the top of its agenda, Mr Brown said, adding that this had been agreed with all the ministers from the world's richest countries.
The meeting will also be addressed by former South African President Nelson Mandela, who will argue the case for comprehensive debt relief.
Anti-poverty campaigners like rock star Bono and former president of Ireland Mary Robinson, now president of Oxfam International, praised the UK and French finance ministers, but warned that they would hold them to account at the end of the year.
Change of game
Global Call to Action Against Poverty is supported by a wide range of organisations, from Action Aid and the All Africa Council of Churches to global trade unions and World Vision International.
The organisation plans three action days this year to lobby G7 governments with peaceful demonstrations.
Mrs Robinson said there was still a lack of political will to tackle poverty, despite the support from the UK and France, and the promise by German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder to support a major British debt relief initiative.
Mr Schroeder had told delegates at the World Economic Forum that he would back a UK proposal to increase funding for the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals by refinancing the so-called International Finance Facility.
He also backed a proposal made by French President Jacques Chirac on Wednesday to tax speculative cross-border financial transactions, a suggestion that has been greeted with scepticism in Britain and the United States.
Bono, speaking at Davos, described Mr Brown's plan as a turning point in the campaign to tackle world poverty.
"There are moments in these campaigns when you feel the game change. Today I knew the game had changed.
"This is supposed to be a talking shop but instead something very real has come out of it."