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World’s poorest people owe $ 5.7 trillion, says Oxfam

• Last year, OECD members gave only 0.3% of their GNI in aid – less than the 0.7% promised.

• 0.7% would help the world’s poorest countries achieve the SDGs for a decade.

• Stable aid flows are needed more than ever during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

At October 24, 1970, the richest countries in the world made a pledge that would improve the lives of people around the world. They pledged to devote a small percentage of their income – just 0.7% – to international aid to help low- and middle-income countries fight the scourge of extreme poverty. They pledged, through a landmark UN resolution, to achieve this goal in just five years.

Over the next 50 years, international aid has become a lifeline for millions of people around the world. It is the only rich country policy dedicated to supporting people living in poverty beyond their borders. It is a crucial form of global redistribution from the rich world to the poor. It is not generosity. It is not charity. It is a duty and an obligation and it will, if only to a small extent, compensate for the colonial exploitation of the developing world by the rich nations.

We should mark a “golden jubilee” of success, optimism and celebration of our common humanity since this engagement. We are not.

Too many rich countries continue to fall short of their target. Last year, members of the OECD rich country club contributed on average only 0.3% of their gross national income (GNI) to aid. In 2019, more than a third of this amount ($ 55 billion) has in fact been repaid to rich countries in debt repayment by countries in sub-Saharan Africa alone – a stark reminder of a global economic system rigged in favor of the richest nations and the richest people .

More alarming is the shocking missed opportunity: New Oxfam analysis shows that donor countries would have paid an additional $ 5.7 trillion to help low- and middle-income countries fight poverty and inequality if they had reached 0.7% from the start.

To put it in perspective, that’s enough money to help the world’s 59 poorest countries meet the Sustainable Development Goals for the next decade. That is, every girl and boy has a free school and universal health systems with millions of doctors and nurses on the front lines. And more.

Image: OECD

$ 5.7 trillion is, in truth, an outrageous debt to the poorest. And yet, some countries have proven that the 0.7% target is a realistic and sensible policy. Five countries – Luxembourg, Norway, Sweden, Denmark and the United Kingdom – meet or exceed their target. In doing so, they answered the calls of millions of citizens around the world. I remember vividly in 1994 protesting with others outside Spain’s finance ministry for weeks to fight for 0.7%, when many brilliant civic leaders went on long hunger strikes.

The messages have been heard in many wealthy capitals. Aid continued to be a winning strategy. Fifty years later, aid has helped eradicate polio in Africa and save 38 million lives thanks to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria. Millions of children have gone to school, especially girls. Aid has helped countries around the world strengthen their governance – from gradually raising taxes to ensuring citizens hold them to account. It helps poor countries adapt to climate change.

Today, aid is needed more than ever, especially in the wake of a pandemic that is wreaking havoc among the poorest and a crisis of inequalities that separates our world. The pandemic is likely to grow up to 200 To 500 million people in poverty. Aid can mean the difference between life and death for millions of people in the years to come.

We certainly need more aid, but we also need to do it better: aid that destroys itself – not colonial aid that fuels dependency. We need some form of aid that respects the leadership of local communities, not the whims of rich men in rich capitals. And we need aid to be truly effective, long-term and predictable – instead of unnecessary public-private partnerships, for example in health and education, which cause injustice to people in poor countries. , as well as to the taxpayers of the rich countries by wasting their contributions.

Global economies are already absorbing the costs of climate change and an obsolete “business as usual” approach. Scientific evidence and the dislocation of people highlight the urgent need to create a sustainable, inclusive and climate resilient future.

This will require nothing less than a transformation of our current economic model into one that generates long-term value by balancing natural, social, human and financial conditions. Cooperation between the different stakeholders will be vital to develop the innovative strategies, partnerships and markets that will lead to this transformation and allow us to raise the trillions of dollars of necessary investments.

To meet these challenges, Financing of sustainable development is one of the four focus areas of the World Economic Forum 2019 Summit on the impact of sustainable development. A range of sessions will highlight innovative financial models, pioneering solutions and scalable best practices that can mobilize capital for the Global Sustainable Development Goals. It will focus on the conditions that public and private institutions should create to enable large-scale financing for sustainable development. It will also explore the role that governments, businesses, investors, philanthropists and consumers could play in coming up with new ways to finance sustainable development.

It is high time for 0.7% solidarity with communities around the world. Rich countries can afford it – it’s a drop in the ocean compared to the trillions they have invested to protect their own economies. They can also boost aid budgets through innovative financing mechanisms, such as taxes on financial transactions and other solidarity taxes.

Fifty years is too long to keep a promise. We need a renewed commitment to aid that repairs historical injustices and helps us emerge from this painful crisis, in solidarity with others towards a more just world.

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