st pauls on a tuesday
St Pauls is packed. The venue instantly projects the seriousness and scale of the crisis to be tackled over the next few days at the G20. UK newspapers this week quote ministers who are saying we need to ‘manage expectations’ but St Pauls has survived crisis after crisis and inspires us to dream dreams and make the impossible possible.
Gordon Brown takes to the platform and talks about the need for the world to come together with agreed rules and global values. He talked about inclusive globalisation – something we want to see in every developing country. Many of the economies in the world that grew the fastest in the last decade still have the highest numbers of children dying such as India and China.
The theme of the event is ‘my word is my bond’. After 15 minutes of Brown’s speech he states that nothing will divert the UK from a focus on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and previous promises on aid. That’s what we needed to hear.
There is applause rippling round the Cathedral. We then get the same commitment from PM Rudd during his speech. Let’s keep watching the rest of the G20 now – who we expect to be less likely to commit with such clarity.
Gordon Brown is on the stage with Prime Minister Rudd from Australia. PM Rudd was inspiring. He kicked off his speech by quoting a figure from the World Bank of the number of children likely to die if the crisis persists (200,000- 400,000). He said that it is for this reason that we can’t sacrifice the MDGs or drop our shared common commitment on aid levels. We need to “help unclog the artery of developing country trade”.
Regardless of whether there was an economic crisis or not, campaigners would still have gathered in St Pauls to demand action on the day-to-day crisis facing people in in the poorest countries.
The majority of the MDGs are way off track. On present trajectory the child mortality goal will only be met in 2045 and not 2015 as promised. There has been no progress on tackling maternal mortality.
Anti-poverty campaigners supported the public commitment to the MDGs and renewed promises on aid levels but recognised that a true commitment to the MDGs needs to go beyond ‘keeping promises’. The goals will not be met with ‘business as usual’. There is a huge task to get these goals back on track.