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Time to act

By Njongonkulu Ndungane - posted Friday, 17 November 2006

G-20 will be relevant only through real action on poverty and corruption

The finance ministers, central bank chiefs and others who will attend the G-20 meeting in Melbourne this weekend make decisions that affect the livelihoods and wellbeing of billions of people. The vast majority of these people currently live in extreme poverty.

The theme for this G-20 - Building and Sustaining Prosperity - provides an excellent opportunity for Australia to show global leadership in asking some tough questions.


Are the economic policies of the G-20 members really designed to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015 and build prosperity for all?-How will we ensure that this prosperity is really sustainable?

The struggle for economic justice is the most profound and far-reaching global challenge we face. The eight Millennium Development Goals - targeted, time bound and realistic goals to tackle the most appalling effects of poverty by 2015 - are public promises to the world's poor.

There is no doubt that the world can afford to meet the Millennium Development Goals, but there is a large question mark against whether or not we have the will.

Our governments and businesses in all G-20 countries need to hear that their citizens truly want them to take the hard steps that are required. Wealthy countries such as Australia can provide the support and resources needed, through well-targeted and predictable aid, debt relief as well as equitable global trading system.-Impoverished countries must also play their part.

As a spiritual leader of millions of people living in southern Africa, I must be tireless in working for effective, urgent action on extreme poverty.

We Africans are stepping up to our responsibility to address poverty and to ensure human rights are enjoyed across our continent.


In May this year I launched the African Monitor - an independent body to ensure greater accountability by governments, businesses, and development agencies to African civil society. Through the African Monitor, we are working to encourage more transparent investment and quality development programs in Africa so that every person can enjoy a sustainable livelihood.

We are working for democratic accountability and against corruption, and we will examine promises from both African governments and foreign donors.

The rest of the world has a responsibility too. In 2005, the G-20 made a welcome commitment to “play an active role in addressing critical development issues”.

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About the Author

Njongonkulu Ndungane is the Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town. A political prisoner on Robben Island in his early 20's, Archbishop Ndungane later studied ethics at King's College, London and is leading the global Anglican Communion's response to poverty, trade, debt and HIV-AIDS.

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