Stating that the global financial crisis threatens the livelihoods of nearly 1.4 billion people globally, a United Nations agency has asked the G-20 leaders to commit themselves to save the world poor from the adverse impact of the downturn.
The United Nations Millennium Campaign, which monitors efforts of governments to reach the Millennium Development Goals, has estimated that the economic crisis would reduce development aid by at least $4.5 billion, forcing more than 50 million people in poverty and setting back the fight against poverty by up to three years.
"The global economic crisis threatens the very livelihoods of the 1.4 billion people around the world who are living in extreme poverty and will be hardest hit of all if G-20 leaders do not address their problems on April 2," Salil Shetty, director of Millennium Development Goals Campaign, said.
Already, more than 130 million people have been pushed into extreme poverty as the result of soaring food and fuel prices in 2008, Shetty said, adding that this was particularly cruel and unjust given that the crisis had been "manufactured" by the rich world.
"G-20 leaders must stick to their commitments to meet the MDGs and marshal resources which do not exacerbate poor countries' crises. Rich countries must keep their commitments to allocate 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income to aid, ensure the participation of the world's poorest in international decision making, and reject protectionist measures," Shetty added.
The leaders of 20 industrial nations, including India, are meeting on April 2 in London.
Among other things, the Campaign suggested providing additional resources to help poor countries to handle the crisis and ensuring that these solutions do not become part of the problem. This means that conditions which stifle poor countries' growth or increase their indebtedness must not be attached to these resources, he said.
The agency said the poor country must have a greater voice and representation in international financial institutions to ensure greater equity.
It also asked the rich not to use the economic crisis as an excuse to renege on their aid commitments to poor countries, which are already bearing the brunt of the financial downturn.
The rich, it added, should honour their pledges for a moratorium on protectionism made at the G-20 summit held in Washington on November 15, 2008 and develop structures for effective monitoring and supervision to prevent further protectionism.
The UN Millennium Campaign was established by former UN Secretary General Kofi Annan in 2002 to supports citizens' efforts to hold their governments to account for the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.
The goals which seek to eliminate or drastically reduce several social and economic ills by 2015, were adopted by 189 world leaders from the north and south, as part of the Millennium Declaration which was signed in 2000.