Holding the leaders accountable

Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP) hosts a free "At the Table" lunch. (Takumo Yamada)

By Takumo Yamada, G20 citizen blogger

takumo52.jpgHaving arrived in Toronto from Japan late Saturday night, I'm writing this blogpost completely jetlagged. And I'm still wearing what I was wearing on the plane, because my suitcase is stuck in Chicago, where I transited. I really hope it will make it to my hotel by tomorrow morning!

I spent Sunday attending two events organized by the Global Call to Action against Poverty (GCAP), the biggest global anti-poverty coalition, of which Make Poverty History is the Canadian national coalition, and to which Oxfam is a member organization.

The first event was a free "At the Table" lunch, where people take free meals and sit down at a table to discuss what they think should come out of the G8 and G20 summits. My table agreed on the message "Serve the needs of ALL," meaning that the leaders should protect the rights of everyone on the planet, not just the interests of the rich.

The G8, which seem to be slowly coming to terms with its obligations to the "haves," is losing influence post the financial crisis, whereas the emerging G20 seem busy trying to sort out its own mess, effectively pushing the issues of people who had done nothing to cause the crisis but are being hardest hit.

The second event I attended was a small-group meeting of GCAP, to co-strategize towards the next G20 Summit in Seoul, South Korea.

GCAP meeting. (Takumo Yamada)

In addition, the G8 yesterday announced its Accountability Report, reviewing all the past promises the G8 made to women and men living in poverty globally. They acknowledge that the promise to increase annual aid by $50 billion US will be missed by at least $18 billion.

But instead of coming up with an emergency plan to fill this gap, the latest draft of the leaders' communiqué does not even mention the promise itself. Seriously, what is the point of improving accountability if it does not lead to improvement of their behaviour?

The G8 has only a couple days to turn this around.

For the rest of the week, I'll be pressing the leaders to deliver for, and analyzing their outcomes for, the poor people and countries.

Related: Meet the team

Related: An international view

Related video: G8 report card