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Climate Change, Global Imbalances and Africa at the
Center of Shadow G-8 for G-8 Reform

Led by University Professor Joseph E. Stiglitz, the Initiative for Policy Dialogue Hosts Feb. 9 Meeting With International Economists and Policy Makers

Joseph E. Stiglitz
Joseph E. Stiglitz

Photo by Anton Korinek

Climate change, reforming global governance, debt and aid should be top priorities for world leaders gathering at the G-8 meeting this June, a group of development economists and policy makers said Feb. 9 in a meeting held at Columbia University.

"The G-8 needs to take leadership in establishing a group of committed countries to help push for global growth with global responsibility," said Joseph E. Stiglitz, Nobel laureate and Initiative for Policy Dialogue President. "In the multipolar world into which we have moved, such informal groupings motivated by a concern for the well-being of the world should be used not just for mobilization for war, but for creating a more peaceful and prosperous world."

Some 12 members of the so-called "Shadow G-8" group outlined their strategy in the months ahead of the G-8 meeting. The Shadow G-8, which includes former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin, UN Under-Secretary General for Economic and Social Affairs Jose Antonio Ocampo, United Nations Conference on Trade and Development Chief Economist Heiner Flassbeck, and Former Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic Commission for Africa KY Amoako, hope to ensure that the G-8 agenda addresses the key issues facing the world, in ways which are both concrete today and which set the stage for further action in the future.

Germany is hosting the June 6-8 event and Chancellor Angela Merkel has said she wants it to focus on growth with responsibility and stability. The G-8 is anticipated to include a focus on global financial imbalances and a dialogue with emerging countries. The G-8 has invited five major developing countries to attend part of the summit this year.

"This invitation should be made permanent and should include other regional powers as well as full and equal members in a separate summit forum," Paul Martin said.  "The world faces critical global issues from climate change to infectious diseases. They now require a wider summit if global gridlocks are to be broken."

The U.N.'s Amoako highlighted the importance of the partnership with Africa. "A trade deal that eliminates all forms of trade-distorting subsidies, provides duty and quota free market access for products of low-income countries, and delivers aid-for-trade is the most pressing issue for the next summit," he said.

Recalling the G-8's repeated promises of increased aid and debt forgiveness on Africa, the group encouraged a focus on development. Hilde Johnson, former Norwegian Minister of International Development said in a statement that "the G-8 meeting in Cologne in 1999 led to a breakthrough in delivering debt relief for poor countries. Instead of retreating on the Gleneagles agenda, Germany should use this unique opportunity to focus on delivery of the G-8 commitments to the world's poor and Africa. It is not too late to change this course."

While there is no simple recipe for reducing global imbalances, there was a consensus that the existing recipe was unlikely to succeed and that failure to deal with global imbalances threatens global stability, which would be potentially costly for poor developing countries. It is also important to develop ways of mitigating the consequences of failure.

The group expressed concern about deflationary macro policies in many countries including the risk of European Central Bank raising interest rates. 

Further, the Shadow G-8 has put it to the G-8 to act on discussions about climate change.

"The G-8 first has to change their own energy economies." Richard Moss of the UN Foundation said at the meeting. "This is something they can do without anyone questioning their role. Then they can press the developing countries to develop in an energy-efficient manner."

The Shadow G-8 was organized by the Initiative for Policy Dialogue (IPD), an international think tank on development founded by Stiglitz and housed at Columbia University. IPD's executive director, Shari Spiegel, said that the goal is to broaden the dialogue and influence public opinion, and perhaps even to influence the direction of the G-8, if not this year, then in later years.  The event was funded by the Friedrich Ebert Foundation.

Related Links:

Initiative for Policy Dialogue

Columbia Economists Join International Herald Tribunes's Globalization Blog

Published: Feb 12, 2006
Last modified: Feb 13, 2007