Sachs: G8 reneging on Millennium Development Goals

The annual G8 meetings often result in a group hug (aka the “summit declaration). Much of the time, when the goals are laudable, they fail to achieve the desired result, as Sachs comments below on the MDGs, or they misrepresent what they are doing in the first place (remember the 2000 release that “ended” third world debt?).

The Millennium Development Goals: Broken promises

By Jeffrey D. Sachs

The Millennium Development Goals are the world’s agreed goals to cut poverty, hunger, and disease. Established in 2000, their targets were to be met by 2015. We are now at the halfway point. So far, despite endless words about increasing aid to poor countries, the rich G-8 countries are reneging on their part of the bargain.

… All this would seem to be insurmountable if the basic economics were not clear. We are not talking about unachievable financial goals. Indeed, the sum of money is minuscule. The G-8, representing nearly one billion people, has promised to increase aid to Africa from $25 billion in 2004 to $50 billion in 2010 – a difference that represents less than one-tenth of 1% of the income of the rich donor world!
To put it in perspective, the Christmas bonuses paid this year on Wall Street – just the bonuses – amounted to $24 billion. Spending on the Iraq war, which achieves nothing but violence, is more than $100 billion per year. So the G-8’s commitment could be honored, if rich countries cared to honor it.

To salvage its credibility, the G-8 needs to make crystal clear — once again — that it will honour its commitment to increase aid to Africa by $25 billion per year by 2010. That way, cynics within the G-8 governments can understand their assignments. Moreover, unlike in 2005, the G-8 needs to present a plan of action. The lack of specific commitments by specific countries is a shocking display of governance at its poorest.

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