31 July 2005

Methodist Church response to the G8 summit

The Methodist Church has welcome the news from the G8 summit that an additional $50 billion in aid has been secured for Africa. The Church also hailed the pledge of $3 billion in aid for the Palestinian Authority.

But Church leaders said that some of the news from the summit was disappointing. Anthea Cox, Methodist Co-ordinating Secretary for Public Life and Social Justice, said "although we are pleased by the aid packages for Africa and Palestine this is only a step in the right direction and more is needed, and sooner, if we are to really see alleviation of poverty in the world's poorest countries. We would also have hoped for the G8 to build upon the recent deal on debt agreed by the G8 finance ministers. We are sorry that the G8 leaders could not reach agreement on fairer trade, especially regarding agriculture subsidies. Perhaps most disappointing is the lack of progress on climate change, rem e bering that that the poorest countries are often the most disadvantaged by global warming. Nonetheless, at the halfway point of the Make Poverty History Campaign, the G8 leaders have begun to listen to what people are saying, and if we continue to keep the pressure on our leaders then we can hope for more movement in the second half of the year."

Anthea Cox added "the first six months of Make Poverty History have shown that people can make their voices heard. The aid packages announced at Gleneagles are good news for poorer countries, but there is still much more that can and must be done. In particular, we need to see real movement on trade. I hope that all our supported will continue to keep up the call for the end of unfair trade barriers and subsidies. As the UK holds the presidency of the EU until the end of this year, our government has a real chance to effect change on trade. FAir trade is key to the long-term eradication of poverty, and with better aid and dropping the debt will make a fairer and kinder world."

Kirsty Smith, director of the Methodist Relief and Development Fund, said "it is clear that the message is getting through. For too long we have ignored the death toll caused by poverty, but I hope that people now understand that ending poverty is something that we can all play a part in, by pressing our leaders for the policies that affect so many people. I want to thank everyone who has supported the campaign so far, and encourage them to keep the pressure on as we move ever closer to our goals. The news on aid is encouraging, and we agree that governance is an important part of the deal. Aid must be given on the understanding that it will be well-managed. However, all of this will not achieve anything if there isn't also a seismic shift in trade policy, and we expect significant changes at the WTO talks in the autumn."

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