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Monday, 07 November 2011

G20 results: WFP pleased, international NGOs reserved

When G20 heads of government left Cannes after the two-day summit from 3-4 November, they had advanced their commitment to development and climate change mitigation – but their commitments in the area of food security left much to wish for.

The summit advanced in the establishment of a financial transaction tax (FTT). Not only France, Spain and Germany but also Brazil, Argentina, Ethiopia and South Africa endorsed the establishment of an FTT, all affirming that revenues should be used for development. The United States, while opposing an FTT itself, accepted the idea that a European FTT may be introduced.

The G20 also made advances on innovative financing for climate change mitigation. The commitment to look for new climate financing, championed among others by the European Union, will lay “the foundation for a deal on a fair carbon charge for shipping to be struck at the UN climate talks in Durban later this month,” hopes Oxfam. Leaders also acknowledged the damage that multinational companies inflict on developing countries by dodging taxes while they operate in the countries.

The news is less good on food security. With global food prices at record highs and promises of leadership from French President Sarkozy, ActionAid had high hopes that G20 leaders would take bold action in Cannes to address global food insecurity. But aside from the long-expected endorsement of the West African emergency food reserve project, according to ActionAid, G20 leaders ducked serious action that could prevent food crises. The G20 also continued to refuse to even discuss the idea of the use of strategic buffer reserves, the most effective tool governments could have to modulate price volatility.

On biofuels, G20 leaders continued to ignore the report they commissioned by 10 leading international organizations, which called on governments to eliminate market-distorting biofuel mandates and incentives. On commodity speculation, the G20 endorses the use of position limits – the proportion of a given commodity any single investor may control. Depending on how this is implemented, this could be a significant step in limiting food price volatility.

On the bright side, the G20 agreed that humanitarian food purchased by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) will not be subject to export restrictions or extraordinary taxes. Besides, world leaders gave support for targeted nutrition safety nets, efficient and flexible food assistance, including forward purchasing, and efforts to improve the lot for smallholder farmers, which will reduce the effects and risks of price volatility on the most vulnerable.

Source: CTA