UK can lead G8 in striking at causes of global poverty, say religious leaders

Religious leaders from across the G8 countries have called on heads of government to follow the UK in fulfilling existing commitments to spend 0.7 per cent of national income on aid. 

Over 70 religious leaders, including leaders from the Methodist Church, The Baptist Union of Great Britain and the United Reformed Church, emphasised in a letter to the Financial Times that from April 5 only 1,000 days remain to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline.

With a focus on tax, trade and transparency, the religious leaders argue, the UK Presidency of the G8 has the potential to advance the MDG agenda in ways that will strike at the underlying causes of poverty, in particular by ensuring the wealth created by developing countries is not lost through unfair tax practices, a lack of transparency or a failure to secure the benefits of trade for developing countries.

The letter was signed by the Revd Jonathan Edwards, General Secretary of the Baptist Union of Great Britain; the Revd Roberta Rominger, General Secretary of the United Reformed Church and the Revd Dr Mark Wakelin, President of the Methodist Conference. "Meeting the remaining targets, while challenging, is possible - but only if governments do not waiver from the moral and political commitments made over a decade ago," the letter stresses.

The religious leaders argue for a G8 Convention on tax transparency, committing signatory countries to the task of preventing individuals and companies from hiding wealth so that it is untraceable. Furthermore, they call on the G8 to press for greater financial transparency from the governments of developing countries so that citizens can hold their governments to account for the money they spend.

"Development is working but challenges remain," the letter points out. "The number of people living in extreme poverty has been halved ahead of time and 14,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990. Yet one in eight people still go to bed hungry every night and more than 2 million die of malnutrition each year."

The financial crisis may be a reason but is not an excuse for hesitation or deferral, the letter states: "Reaching a purposeful consensus on these areas won't be easy. But, if the political will and moral leadership is forthcoming, this year's G8 could help to create an environment that encourages the conditions for inclusive, equitable and sustainable economic growth - conditions that are desperately needed if we are to realise the MDGs and even greater things beyond."

Ends

Full text of letter (check against publication)

To G8 Heads of Government,

Today marks the start of the 1000 day countdown to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline. It is an appropriate moment to pause and to reflect on progress to date.

Development is working. But challenges remain. The number of people living in extreme poverty has been halved ahead of time and 14,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990. Yet 1 in 8 people still go to bed hungry every night and over 2 million die of malnutrition each year.

Even as conversations accelerate as to what ought to replace the MDGs, we should not slacken our efforts towards realising existing goals. Meeting the remaining targets, while challenging, is possible - but only if governments do not waiver from the moral and political commitments made over a decade ago.

Thirteen years on from the start of the Millennium the values and principles that drive these goals are as imperative as ever. The financial crisis may be a reason but is not an excuse for hesitation or deferral. The MDGs remind us that in addition to providing for the well being of our own societies, we have a collective responsibility to uphold human dignity and the common good at the global level. Each individual has a value that can never be lost and must never be ignored.

With a focus on tax, trade and transparency, the UK Presidency of the G8 this year has the potential to advance the MDG agenda in ways that strike at the underlying causes of poverty, in particular by ensuring the wealth created by developing countries is not lost through unfair tax practices, a lack of transparency or a failure to secure the benefits of trade for developing countries.

As religious leaders from across the G8 we recommend that our Heads of Government take the following actions when they meet in June. First, fulfil existing commitments to spend 0.7% of national income on aid. Secondly, launch a G8 Convention on Tax Transparency committing signatory countries to prevent individuals and companies from hiding wealth so that it's untraceable. Thirdly, press for greater financial transparency from governments of developing countries so that the citizens of these countries can hold their governments to account for the money they spend.

Reaching a purposeful consensus on these areas won't be easy. But, if the political will and moral leadership is forthcoming, this year's G8 could help to create an environment that encourages the conditions for inclusive, equitable and sustainable economic growth - conditions that are desperately needed if we are to realise the MDGs and even greater things beyond.

Yours,

 

1. The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby

Lord Archbishop of Canterbury (UK)

 

2. The Most Revd Vincent Nichols

Archbishop of Westminster (UK)

 

3. The Most Revd Philip Tartaglia

Archbishop of Glasgow (UK)

 

4. Rt Revd Albert O. Bogle 

Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland (UK)

 

5. The Most Revd David Chillingworth

Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane

Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church (UK)

 

6. Revd Jonathan Edwards

General Secretary, Baptist Union of Great Britain

 

7. Mr Paul Parker

Recording Clerk, Religious Society of Friends of Great Britain

 

8. Mrs Val Morrison

General Secretary of the United Reformed Church (UK)

 

9. Rev Dr Michael Jagessar

Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church (UK)

 

10. Rev Dr Mark Wakelin 

President of the Conference of the Methodist Church in Britain

 

11. Revd Simon Walkling

Moderator, National Synod of Wales of the United Reformed Church

 

12. Rev R. Kenneth Lindsay

President of the Methodist Church in Ireland

 

13. Archbishop Paul Hackman

Trans-Atlantic and Pacific Alliances of Churches (UK)

 

14. Commissioner Clive Adams

Territorial Commander, Salvation Army, UK and ROI

 

15. Revd Joel Edwards

Director, Micah Challenge International

 

16. Rt Revd Mar Theodosius 

Diocesan Epicsopa, Mar Thoma Church (UK)

 

17. Rev Michael Heaney

General Secretary of the Congregational Federation (UK)

 

18. Rev Torbjørn Holt

Chairman, Council of Lutheran Churches in the UK

 

19. Rt Revd Munib Younan 

President, Lutheran World Federation (Jordan)

 

20. Ravinder Kaur Nijjar

Co-Chair of Religions for Peace European Women of Faith Network (UK)

 

21. Lord Indarjit Singh,

Network of Sikh Organisations (UK)

 

22. Mr Julian Bond

Director, Christian-Muslim Forum (UK)

 

23. Dr Natubhai Shah,

Chair/CEO Jain Network (UK)

 

24. Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia 

Chairman, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha (UK)

 

25. National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United Kingdom and on behalf of its sister Assemblies of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, and the United States

 

26. Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra,

Christian Muslim Forum Co-Chair and Assistant Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain

 

27. Mr Toufik Kacimi,

Christian Muslim Forum President

 

28. Ayatollah Dr Sayyid Fadhil Al-Milani,

Christian Muslim Forum President, and Imam Al-Khoei Islamic Centre (UK)

 

29. Dr Manazir Ahsan,

Co-Chair Inter Faith Network, Director General Islamic Foundation (UK)

 

30. Mr Yousif Al-Khoei,

Director, Al-Khoei Foundation UK

 

31. Mr Ramesh Pattni,

Co-Chair Hindu Christian Forum, Hindu Forum of Britain

 

32. Mr Nitin Palan,

BAPS Swaminarayan Hindu Mandir (UK)

 

33. Mr Malcolm Deboo,

President, Zoroastrian Trust Funds of Europe

 

34. Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari,

Chairman of the East London Mosque, and former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain

 

35. Rabbi Dr Tony Bayfield

The Movement for Reform Judaism (UK)

 

36. Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner, 

Movement Rabbi for the Movement for Reform Judaism (UK)

 

37. Rabbi Natan Levy, 

Interfaith and Social Action consultant, Board of Deputies of British Jews

 

38. Rabbi Danny Rich

Chief Executive, Liberal Judaism (UK)

 

39. Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg

Senior Rabbi of the Masorti Movement (UK)

 

40. Rabbi Avrohom Pinter

Charedi Rabbi (UK)

 

41. Rt Revd Paul Hendricks 

Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Southwark and Co-Chair, Christian Muslim Forum (UK)

 

42. Anjum Anwar

Dialogue Development Officer, exChange Project, Blackburn Cathedral; Chair, Woman's Voice; Trustee, Christian Muslim Forum (UK)

 

43. His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France

Ecumenical Patriarchate, President of the Conference of European Churches (Fra)

 

44. The Most Revd. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori

Presiding Bishop and Primate, Episcopal Church (USA)

 

45. Rabbi Richard A. Marker

Former Chair, Elijah Board of World Religious Leaders (USA)

 

46. Mr Dave Courchene

Elder and Spiritual Leader, Anishnabe Nation, Eagle Clan (Canada)

 

47. Mrs Pascale Fremond

President, Religions for Peace Canada

 

48. Victor C. Goldbloom

Companion of the Order of Canada, Past Chair, National Executive, Canadian Jewish Congress

 

49. The Most Revd Fred Hiltz

Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Canada

 

50. Mr Mark Huyser-Wierenga

Chair of the Board, Citizens for Public Justice (Canada)

 

51. Rt Revd Susan C. Johnson

National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

 

52. Mobeenuddin H. Khaja, O.Ont.

President, Association of Progressive Muslims of Canada

 

53. The Right Revd Gary Paterson

Moderator, the United Church of Canada

 

54. Pandit Roopnauth Sharma

President Hindu Federation and Spiritual Leader Shri Ram Mandir, Mississauga (Canada)

 

55. Mr. Prem Singh Vinning

President, World Sikh Organization of Canada

 

56. The Rev. Dr. James Christie

Director, Ridd Institute for Religion and Global Policy, University of Winnipeg, Canada

 

57. The Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton

General Secretary, The Canadian Council of Churches

 

58. Major Jim Champ

President, The Canadian Council of Churches

 

59. Dr. h.c. Nikolaus Schneider

Chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany

 

60. Bishop Martin Schindehütte

Head of the Department for Ecumenical Relations and Ministries Abroad, Evangelical Church in Germany

 

61. Rev. Regina Claas

General Secretary, Union of Evangelical Free Churches in Germany

 

62. Revd Martin Affolderbach

General Secretary, G8 Religious Leaders' Summit Germany

 

63. Prof. Dr. Johannes Lähnemann

Vice Secretary of the Round Tables of Religions in Germany

 

64. Rabbi Dr. Henry G. Brandt

General Rabbi Conference of the Central Council of Jews in Germany

 

65. Mr Bekir Alboga

Deputy General Secretary of the Turkish Islamic Union of the Public Institution for Religion (Germany)

 

66. Dr. Timmo Guezelmansur

Head of the Center for Christian Muslim Dialogue of the Catholic Bishop's Conference in Germany

 

67. Hilary Keachie, 

Protestant Youth Federation Germany

 

68. Prof. Dr. Assaad Elias Kattan,

Orthodox Churches in Germany

 

69. Rt Revd Prof. Dr. Martin Hein

Protestant Church of Kurhessen-Waldeck (Germany)

 

70. Mr Michael Gerhard

Council of the Buddhist Union in Germany

 

71. Most Rev. Masanori Yoshimura

President, Japanese Association of Religious Organizations

Patriarch, Shinto Shinshu-kyo (Japan)

 

72. Most Ven. Yukei Matsunaga

Honorary President, G8 Religious Leaders Summit 2008

Patriarch, Shingon Esoteric Buddhism (Japan)

 

73. Very Ven. Koho Murayama

President, International Religious Fellowship 

Lord Chancellor, Soto Zen Buddhism (Japan)

 

74. Most Revd. Mitsuo Miyake

President, International Association for Religious Freedom

Senior Chief Minister, Shinto Konko Church of Izuo (Japan)

 

75. Most Ven. Jisho Omori

Patriarch, Benten-shu Buddhism

Chief Abbot, Myoohji Temple (Japan)

 

76. Most Ven. Nisshin Matsushita

Patriarch, Honmon Hokke-shu Lotus Buddhism

Chief Abbot, Myorenji Temple (Japan)

 

77. Rev. Takeshi Nishida

President, Itto-en Religious Community

Adviser, Religion for Peace (Japan)

 

78. Most Revd. Tsunetada Mayumi

Chief Priest, Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine (Japan)

 

79. Yoshinobu Miyake

General Secretary, G8 Religious Leaders' Summit Japan

 

80. Maulana Mohammed Shahid Raza, Muslim College.  

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