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Challenge to the G8 Governments
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Monday, 07 July 2008 12:05
Below is the statement of more than 100 international, regional, national, and local organizations and individuals, challenging the G8 governments to acknowledge their responsibility for the food and climate crises and the continuing problem of debt, and take decisive action to:
  1. Cancel all illegitimate debt;
  2. Stop financing projects and policies that contribute to climate change;
  3. Respect the efforts of South countries to reverse the harmful policies that have led to the food crisis;
  4. Ban speculation on food prices;
  5. End the practice of using loans and debt cancellation to impose conditionalities;
  6. Pay restitution and reparations for the huge ecological debts owed to the South; and,
  7. Facilitate the return of stolen assets kept in the banks in the G8 countries.
This sign-on statement was initiated by the Jubilee South – Asia Pacific Movement on Debt and Development (JS-APMDD).


The gathering of the most powerful countries of the world is an occasion for the people of the world to demand that this G8 Summit address the twin ‘tsunamis’ that plague humanity today – the food and climate crisis – and the continuing problem of Debt that has contributed significantly to these two crises and exacerbate their impacts.

The Injustice of the Debt Burden and the problem of Illegitimate Debts

The payment of huge amounts of debt service amplifies the effects of the food and climate crises and hampers the ability of countries and peoples of the South to deal with these crises.   This is part of the injustice of the debt and for this alone debt cancellation is urgent.  

But the debt is more than just the problem of losing much needed resources to debt payments.  Debts which were used for harmful projects or to impose harmful conditionalities such as those which contributed to the food and climate crises -- these are illegitimate debts and should not be paid.

The Food Crisis

The high price of oil, worsening climate conditions and price manipulation by domestic and international trading cartels and speculators have certainly contributed significantly to the abrupt, massive increase in the prices of food. But the food crisis can be also be traced to economic policies that have been imposed on the countries of the South for decades, with the use of debt, access to credit and debt relief as instruments for coercion.

The combination of several policies that have been part of conditionality packages of the IMF and World Bank have resulted in falling productivity in basic food agriculture, steep increase in the costs of food production, the huge reduction in land used for producing staple food for domestic consumption, and less sustainable agricultural practices.

Fiscal and monetary conditionalities included the removal of state subsidies for production of basic food crops and reduction in spending for public infrastructures such as irrigation systems. Prescriptions for export-oriented high growth economic strategies led to heavy reliance on expensive imported fertilizers and pesticides, massive shifts to non-staple and non-food export crops, and the conversion of agricultural lands to export processing zones. Liberalization of trade gave rise to unfair competition from subsidized food products from the north. Liberalization of finance capital further fueled real estate industries, expanding land use conversion from production of food to private housing estates, golf courses and resorts. The privatization of public services and utilities also meant greater cost of food production and distribution.
 
In addition, the effects of huge debt payment on government resources include the deterioration and neglect of many public infrastructures needed to boost agricultural production, such as irrigation systems, and farm to market roads.

The ability of many countries of the South, from Asia to Africa to Latin America and the Caribbean, to produce sufficiently for their own food needs and keep prices accessible to the domestic market have thus been steadily and dramatically eroding since the 1980’s.  This is shown by the significant increase in the number of net food importing countries in the past two decades, the diminishing capability to maintain adequate buffer stocks of staple grains, and the increasing vulnerability to world food market supply and price dynamics.   

Small farmers and landless peasants have had no real benefits from the spiraling increases in of food prices, as farm gate prices continue to be low. It is the trading cartels and speculators that have been generating big profits.

The G8 governments bear primary responsibility for the debt burden and the debt-related policy conditionalities that contributed to the food crisis and magnify its impacts. They are the biggest bilateral lenders and the most influential members of international financial institutions. They should act immediately and decisively for the cancellation of all illegitimate debts. The imposition of conditionalities through loans debt and debt cancellation must stop. The G8 governments and the international financial institutions should respect the action of Southern countries to reverse the policies that have led to the food crisis.

The G8 governments also share responsibility for other factors behind the crisis -- as governments of countries which are home to the biggest multinational food corporations and food commodities speculators, and as powerful governments shaping bilateral and multilateral trade agreements affecting food. The G8 governments should regulate their predatory corporations and investors, ban speculation on food commodities, and stop pushing unfair trade agreements.

The Climate Crisis

The G8 governments also bear primary responsibility for the climate crisis.  Half of the world’s green house gas emissions come from the G8 countries. Most, if not all, of the G8 countries are lagging behind the reduction targets of GHG emissions. Even the European Union, with its bold plan of being the first de-carbonized economy in the world, has undermined its own claims by planning to build 40 major new coal power plants in the next five years.

 And again, as the most powerful members of international financial institutions, they are accountable for debt-related projects and policies that exacerbate the climate crisis.

The World Bank and the regional development banks are major lenders to projects involving fossil fuel industries, paid for by peoples of the South. The Export Credit Agencies of G8 countries also provide financing to these industries, part of which translates to liabilities of Southern governments, again paid for by peoples of the South.

Since the signing of the Climate Convention in 1992, and even after instituting “environmental policies,” the World Bank approved more than 133 financial packages to oil, coal and gas extraction projects, comprising mainly of loans but also including equity investments, guarantees and some grants. The total amount exceeds US$28 billion dollars. Fossil fuel corporations based in G8 countries benefit from almost every project finance package.  The International Finance Corporation of the World Bank is increasing its fossil fuel lending portfolio. The Asian Development Bank, to which Japan and the United States are the biggest shareholders, is a major lender to coal, oil and gas projects in Asia, approving close to US$2 billion worth of loan packages since the year 2000.

Other loan-financed projects and policy conditionalities of international financial institutions have led to massive deforestation, another major factor to climate change. These include, for instance, the building of large-scale dams, road development in tropical forests, and the promotion of palm oil production for export.  

It is indeed ironic and deplorable that with such a record, the G8 governments is granting the World Bank a pre-eminent role in global financing of climate mitigation and adaptation and the promotion of “clean technology” and “clean development.”  In the July 2005 Summit, the G8 declared that the “The World Bank will take a leadership role in creating a new framework for clean energy and development, including investment and financing.”  The regional development banks are also claiming a similar role for themselves.

The World Bank announced recently that it will establish Climate Investment Funds (CIFs). Aside from the obvious inappropriateness of the World Bank as manager of these Funds given its role in worsening the climate crisis, the concepts, design and intentions of the funds are seriously flawed.

The G8 governments are not only promoting false solutions through the different facilities under the auspices of these international financial institutions, they are intending to finance these through loans, thus adding to the debt burden of developing countries. The UK government has been leading the call for other governments to contribute to funds to be administered by the World Bank as loans.

Instead of extending loans for climate mitigation and adaptation – the G8 governments should begin with the recognition of the huge ecological debt that they owe the countries and peoples of the South. They should finance climate mitigation and adaption in the South as part of restitution and reparations for the environmental damage and destruction their policies and programs, their economies and corporations have caused. These funds should be managed by democratic and accountable institutions.

Calls and Demands

We urge all people’s organizations and movements (labor, farmers, women, youth and indigenous peoples), faith-based organizations, social and political movements and all concerned citizens to challenge the governments of the G8 countries to acknowledge their responsibility for the food and climate crises and the continuing problem of debt, and take decisive action to:

1.    Cancel all illegitimate debt.
2.    Stop financing projects and policies that contribute to climate change
3.    Respect the efforts of South countries to reverse the harmful policies that have led to the food crisis.
4.    Ban speculation on food prices.
5.    End the practice of using loans and debt cancellation to impose conditionalities.
6.    Pay restitution and reparations for the huge ecological debts owed to the South.
7.    Facilitate the return of stolen assets kept in the banks in the G8 countries.



Signatories:     

INTERNATIONAL and REGIONAL NETWORKS and ORGANIZATIONS

JUBILEE SOUTH     
European Network on Debt and Development (EURODAD)
CADTM International     
JS – Asia/Pacific Movement on Debt and Development
Africa Jubilee South    
Jubileo Sur Americas     
AFRODAD     
LATINDADD     
Least Developed Country (LDC) Watch
South Asia Alliance for Poverty Eradication (SAAPE)

Southern Peoples Ecological Debt Creditors Alliance
Migrant Forum in Asia
EUROSTEP     
OilChange International
Platform of Filipino Migrant Organisations in Europe (Platform Europe)
Asia Pacific Network for Food Sovereignty (APNFS)
    
NATIONAL NETWORKS and ORGANIZATIONS     

Freedom from Debt Coalition (FDC) – Philippines
KALAYAAN! (Movement for People’s Freedom) - Philippines
Solidarity of Filipino Workers (Bukluran ng Manggagawang Pilipino) - Philippines
Bisig - Philippines
Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement - Philippines
Aniban ng Manggagawa sa Agrikultura`(Union of Agricultural Workers)-Philippines
Resource Center for Sustainable Development (GITIB) - Philippines
Center for Migrant Advocacy - Philippines
Task Force Food Sovereignty (TFFS) Philippines
Anti Debt Coalition (KAU) - Indonesia

Nadi - Indonesia    
Institute for Essential Services Reform – Indonesia     
Anjuman Asiaye Awam – Pakistan
Monitoring Sustainability of Globalization - Malaysia
NUBE - Malaysia
Luta Hamutuk Institute - East Timor     
Centre for Human Rights and Development – Mongolia
Rural Reconstruction Nepal
NGO Federation of Nepal
Equity & Justice Working Group - Bangladesh

Unnayan Onneshan - Bangladesh
Community Development Library- Bangladesh
Jatiyo Sramik Jote - Bangladesh
Anjuman Asiaye Awam - Pakistan
Indian Social Action Forum (INSAF) - India
Alternatives Asia - India     
Centre for Education and Communication - India     
People´s Union for Civil Liberties - India     
Narmada Bachao Andolan - India     
Campaign for Judicial Accountability - India     

Gender, Livelihoods and ResourcesForum - India     
Bihar Social Institute - India     
ALternatives/Badayl- India     
Intercultural Resource - India     
National Centre for Dalit Human Rights, india     
African Forum on Alternatives - Senegal     
Daughters of Mumbi Global Resource Center - Kenya     
Center for Promotion of Economic and Social Alternatives - Cameroon     
Umzabalazo We Jubilee - South Africa     
Jubilee South Africa     

Jubileo Peru     
Dialogo 2000 Argentina     
PAPDA Haiti     
Jubilee USA Network - USA     
Sustainable Energy & Economy Network - USA     
Maryknoll Office for Global Concerns - USA     
Washington Office of Public Policy, Women’s Division, United Methodist Church - USA     
Center for Third World Organizing - USA     
Global Exchange - USA     
Medical Mission Sister’s Alliance for Justice - USA     

Gender Action - USA     
Jubilee Debt Campaign – UK     
Jubilee Scotland     
“¿Quien debe a Quién?” Campaign – Spain     
Observatorio de la Deuda en la Globalización – Spain     
Campagna per la Riforma della Banca Mondiale (CRBM) - Italy     
CADI (Comitato Antirazzista Durban Italia) - Italy     
Norwegian Coalition for Debt Cancellation (SLUG) - Norway     
11.11.11. - Coalition of the Flemish North-South Movement - Belgium     
Debt and Development Coalition - Ireland     

Halifax Initiative Coalition - Canada     
ATTAC - France     
Commission for Filipino Migrant Workers (CFMW) - The Netherlands     
Jubilee Australia     
Jubilee Kyushu - Japan     
Jubilee Kansai Network - JapanATTAC Japan     
Society of St Columban - Japan     
Japan Network on Debt & Poverty     
Food Policy Center Vision21 - Japan     
Kansai Action Center on Philippine Human Rights Issues - Japan     

ATTAC Hokkaido - Japan     
ATTAC Kyoto - Japan     
ATTAC Kansai Group, Japan     
Altermonde - Japan     
Yokohama Action Research Center - Japan     
Solidarity Network Migrants Japan     
Global Peace and Alternative Media - Japan     
Lencaena Communication Japonesia - Japan     
KALAKASAN Empowerment Center - Japan     

INDIVIDUALS     

Eisuke Naramoto, Japan     
Hidenori Ao - Japan     
Hiroshi Yamashita, Japan     
GATA Kazumasa -Japan     
Kalyani Menon Sen, India     
Kazue Tanaka – Japan     
Miki Fujimori - Japan     
Mikiko Okiyama - Japan     
Mituko Ogawa - Japan     
Miyow Ogawa - Japan     

Muto Ichiyo - Japan     
Naomi Horihama - Japan     
Makie Hatori - Japan     
Nomura Osami - Japan     
Okuno Takumi - Japan     
Shigeki KONNO - Japan     
Shindi Inoue - Japan     
Tadashi SETTSU (PAFF) - Japan     
Watanabe Michie - Japan     
Yasue Tanaka - Japan     

Yukio Gibo – Japan     
Rie Kawahito - Japan     
Yasuaki Matsumoto, Palestine Solidarity in Sapporo - Japan     
Misako Ogawa, Kagoshima City Council Member - Japan     
Takaaki Osato, Midori Fukuoka - Japan     
Takako Nobuhara - Japan     
Sachiyo Tanahashi - Japan     
Naoko Ishioroshi - Japan     
Yukio Giho, Okinawa Peace Memorial Museum - Japan     
Takaaki Hashino, Japan Christian Organization - Japan     

Bieniada Yerzy     
Manfred Bergmann - Italy     
Noel Cabangon - Philippines     
Medha Patkar, Narmada Bachao Andolan - India     
Ambrish Rai, Lok Sangharsh Morcha - India     
Kavita Srivastava, People´s Union for Civil Liberties, Rjasthan - India     
Prashant Bhushan, Campaign for Judicial Accountability - India     
Praveer Peter, Gender, Livelihoods and ResourcesForum - India     
Anil Sadgopal - India     
Prakash Louis, Bihar Social Institute - India     

Ranjan Soloman, ALTERNATIVES/BADAYL - India     
Sauquat Hussain - India     
Smitu Kothari, Intercultural Resource - India     
Vincent,National Centre for Dalit Human Rights - India     
Last Updated on Monday, 07 July 2008 12:13
 

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