The Official Development Assistance (ODA) Accountability Act (ODA Act) came into force on June 28, 2008. This now legally requires Canadian ODA to contribute to poverty reduction, take into account the perspectives of the poor, and be consistent with international human rights standards. Over the past year, the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA), Foreign Affairs Canada (FAC), and Finance Canada have been developing plans on how to interpret and implement the Act. To date, only Finance Canada has held a consultation on the Act, with neither CIDA nor FAC disclosing its plans. Consultations must be held before September 30, 2009, when CIDA is expected to release the first annual report on the Act.
G8 down, but not out, as G20 makes pledges on crisis
If the big headline for April’s G20 Summit (See IU April 2009) was the $1.2 trillion pledged to tackle the financial crisis, this month’s showcase was the G20 itself, as the 20 countries crowned themselves the premier fora on global finance. Next year’s G8 in Canada will in fact be preceded by a G20 meeting, which Ottawa will co-host with 2010 G20 chair Seoul. Earlier this month, Liberal opposition leader Michael Ignatieff went one step further, suggesting that the G8 not bother meeting any more, and calling for a permanent G20 secretariat in Canada.
Since 2005, the Halifax Initiative Coalition has produced an annual Report Card on the Department of Finance's Annual Report to Parliament on the Bretton Woods and Related Agreements Act - namely on the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF). Past Report Cards have found that Finance's Reports provide some good background information on the history, mandate and operations of the institutions. However, they fall short on providing the qualitative and quantitative information necessary to provide Canadians with an adequate picture of Canada's relations with the Bank and the Fund, and how our participation within these institutions is achieving our development and foreign policy goals. As this report is, effectively, the only means by which Parliament and the public is officially informed of Canada's relations with these institutions, the lack of information creates a serious gap in public accountability and awareness.
A Focus on Poverty, Economic Reform and Climate Change
In 2010 Canada will play host to the world. The Vancouver Olympics and the G8 and G20 Summits in Muskoka and Toronto will draw the attention of millions to Canada, its geography, its values, policies and practices. If 2008 was the year of China, then 2010 can be the year of Canada. Around the globe, Canadians proudly sport the Canadian flag in traveling as a symbol of Canadian democracy, openness and concern for human rights. Yet our great international achievements of the past—Canadian contributions to the establishment of international peacekeeping, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Ottawa Treaty to Ban Landmines and the International Criminal Court—are today clouded by concerns about Canada’s current role in climate change negotiations, Afghanistan, reform of the global economy and addressing global poverty.
Italian G8 serves primi piatti for 2010 G "?" in Canada
Key among the issues addressed at the recent G8 summit in L'Aquila, Italy, were food security, global warming, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and accountability. One of the key outcomes was a three year US$20 billion pledge made by the G8 countries and international institutions, including the World Bank, to boost agricultural production in developing countries. This is seen as one of the biggest aid shifts in decades, to an issue that has been neglected for far too long. But a history of broken promises still has NGOs and civil society on their guard - the G8 pledge at Gleneagles in 2005 of $50bn in development aid by 2010, with half to Africa, is still short by $15bn. G8 leaders also agreed, as developed countries, to reduce their greenhouse-gas emissions by 80 per cent as of 2050, although the Canadian government indicated after the Summit that it would not be budging from its commitment to reduce emissions by 60 to 70 percent by 2050! On poverty, with many of the MDGs - such as reducing the number of women dying in childbirth - already way off track, the summit agreed to a proposal by Gordon Brown to provide an assessment at the 2010 Canadian G8 summit on how the MDGs could be attained in time. Finally, on accountability, the G8 leaders agreed to develop a comprehensive framework to monitor progress on G8 promises, strengthen the effectiveness of their actions, and publish a full report in time for 2010.
Rich countries block real change at UN meeting on crisis
In June the United Nations was the site of a battle being waged between the G77, a group of over 130 developing countries, and the United States, Canada, Japan and the European Union. The fight was over how to address the financial and economic crisis and efforts to transform and democratize the global financial system and its institutions. The final outcome document of the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impact on Development is positive in that it represents a truly global response and has opened up space for countries to express their views on crisis. But the document falls short because rich countries blocked it from including more substantive solutions (see JUST THE FACTS). This is particularly distressing given the wealth of ideas generated in the Stiglitz Commission (IU May 2009), one of the key inputs for the meeting.
Ms. Angela Crandall
Clerk of the Committee
Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6
Dear Ms. Crandall:
We are writing to request that the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development (FAAE) consider holding hearings and cross-Canada consultations this fall on the Canadian Group of Eight (G8) agenda for 2010. As you know, Canada will host the G8 in Huntsville, Ontario, from June 25-27, 2010.
Tensions build as UN conference on crisis postponed
June 24-26 now mark the new dates for the UN Conference on the World Financial and Economic Crisis and Its Impacts on Development, postponed from the beginning of the month as many European heads of state had said they could not participate because of European Parliamentary elections. The postponement is welcome relief to a process that began last October and has been tense ever since, exposing clear lines between those who favour a truly global response to the current crisis with a real rethink of how the global economy is governed vs. the newly crowned G-20 and their proposal for a status quo plus approach.