Archbishop calls for MDG action
WRITING IN A LETTER to the Financial Times, Archbishop Justin Welby and a number of religious leaders have called on Heads of Government in the G8 to take steps to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals by the 2015 deadline.
They appeal for Governments of the G8 to take three steps. First of all they want them ‘to fulfil existing commitments to spend 0.7 per cent of income on aid.’
Second, the want them to ‘launch a G8 convention on tax transparency that commits signatory countries to preventing individuals and companies from hiding wealth so that it is untraceable.’
Third, they ask the leaders of the G8 ‘to press for greater financial transparency from governments of developing countries so that the citizens of these countries can hold their governments to account for the money they spend’.
The religious leaders claim that ‘development is working but challenges remain’. They claim one in eight people in the world still go to bed hungry every night and more than 2m die of malnutrition every year.
The UK is fulfilling it commitment to spend 0.7 per cent of its national income on aid but at a time of austerity many governments are reducing their donations.
This year the presidency of the G8 rests with the UK and the religious leaders argue there is the potential ‘to advance the MDG agenda in ways that strike at the underlying causes of poverty, in particular by ensuring that wealth created by developing countries is not lost through unfair tax practices, a lack of transparency or a failure to secure the benefits of trade for developing countries’.
In addition to Archbishop Welby, the letter is signed by Archbishop Vincent Nichols, a representative of the Ecumenical Patriarchate, and representatives of other Christian Churches, as well as Muslim, Jewish, Sikh, Hindu and Buddhist organisations.
“Meeting the remaining targets, while challenging, is possible – but only if governments do not waver from the moral and political commitments made over a decade ago,” the letter warns.
Coming soon after his inauguration the letter is a striking indication of Archbishop Welby’s emergence as a world figure among religious leaders. It demonstrates both his concern to improve the condition of the poorest people and his determination to secure greater financial accountability from international firms and governments.