Aid worker calls for G20 to consider civil policies | Pacific Beat

Aid worker calls for G20 to consider civil policies

Aid worker calls for G20 to consider civil policies

Updated 20 June 2014, 11:28 AEST

The northern Australian city of Brisbane is preparing to host the G20 later this year, with some of the world's most powerful leaders descending on the city for the annual meeting to look at ways to strengthen the global economy.

But in a bid to ensure that people are put at the centre of any decisions made by the G20 members, civil society groups are this week meeting in Melbourne at the 'C20' or 'Civil Society 20'.

They're debating policy suggestions on governance, employment, infrastructure and climate change that will be put forward to the G20 agenda.

World Vision Australia's Reverend Tim Costello is chairing the C20 summit and says it's important they put forward the issues of the Pacific countries, which aren't involved in the G20.

Presenter: Catherine Graue

Speaker: Tim Costello, chair of the C20, and head of World Vision Australia

COSTELLO: We have a real concern that the Pacific as a region, is at risk of being left behind as world leaders of really the big economies nut out global economic policy, that's why we see the C20, is really important to represent the Pacific and smaller less powerful nation states.
Some of the agenda items certainly concern the Pacific, they concern all of us, it's the ability for governments to invest in infrastructure, and when there's a lack of transparency, when there's a lack of a solid tax base to fund infrastructure, that's a concern for Pacific nations, as it is for the rest of us. So we're really emphasising transparency about infrastructure investment, respecting community rights, participation of communities, women, even children, in the process of how you make infrastructure decisions. We're addressing climate change, which is a real threat to livelihoods and wellbeing across the Pacific. So those Pacific concerns more generally are on the G20 agenda.
GRAUE: To ensure that their voices are heard, how will that take place?
COSTELLO: There are representatives from some of the Pacific nations coming and they've been part of fashioning the C20's position papers, so the recommendations after the debate for these two days will come out of those position papers.
They are recommendations that are saying we've got to rebalance investments in agriculture to support sustainable small scale farming. We know that's true for many in the Pacific, a small scale farming often has the disparitybetween men and women and title and ownership and access to finance and food security and we're saying the G20 really has to focus on those, improving access to financial tools for small scale farmers is one of the central recommendations we'll make, because small scale farmers are essential for food security and they need access to finance.
GRACE: Now climate change, as you mentioned, is one of the big four policies points that you will be putting forward or have in this position paper for the C20. Now, so often we hear that it's the small island nations in the Pacific that are most at risk from climate change and yet they're very much the minor contributors. It's been the industrialised nations, the large members of the G20. So how will the C20 be pushing for the large G20 economies to take any real action on climate change?
COSTELLO: Well, the G20 is focusing particularly on growth, saying levels of growth, and therefore youth unemployment are the great challenge and they've set a target of 2 per cent global growth. And what we know is the G20 doesn't always want to hear our message, which says end at government support for fossil fuels, invest in renewable energy, energy efficiency, because sometimes that seems to be a stumbling block to growth. We're certainly going to be pushing that and pushing how the finance ministers must have a climate finance roadmap adopted in 2015 with Pacific nations being the beneficiaries of some of that financial roadmap.
But look, more generally, though I've painted a negative picture there, the Pacific should be encouraged at big nations, like China, notwithstanding their coal burning are suffering terrible pollution, suffocating pollution, and climate change pollution has become literally the number one issue in China, the most important issue facing them. So there is a synergy of interests, the poor old Pacific were on their own, saying look at rising tides and look at the impact on us and the world wasn't really listening in Copenhagen, even the Chinese who are often blamed for torpedoing Copenhagen agreement. But it is now number one issue there in Copenhagen.
Obama has set a very aggressive target for reducing coal and fossil fuels in America, so they're things that saying at last, the wind that's been an ill head wind for the Pacific, and those concerned about climate change, that wind maybe changing and at this G20 we'll be pointing out the strength of that wind.
GRAUE: Except that Australia, which is holding the G20 Presidency is taking a different approach on climate change?
COSTELLO: Yeah, so Obama and Tony Abbott, as we know met in Washington DC and Tony Abbott was interesting in saying well, our fuel indexation abolition that is increasing our fuel really is a climate change policy. Now, that was news to many of us in Australia, we hadn't heard it ever structured that way. Tony Abbott's language with Obama changed a little bit. He said yes, yes, climate change really is a problem and he didn't agree that it was the major problem and we know that here in Australia, renewable energy's target and clean energy funds have been targeted, but, that's the virtue of a G20. It says actually no one nation, whatever it's views about climate change can actually dictate the terms, because it is a global problem. The world is a water bed. You press down in one place, it comes up in another and there is going to be a discussion around energy efficiency and what we can do to tackle climate at this G20, even though the Australian government said, no, no, growth, global growth's the real issue.

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