Baha’is join other religious leaders in urging G8 to address poverty

Baha’is join other religious leaders in urging G8 to address poverty

In a letter published today in the Financial Times, the Baha’i Community has joined religious leaders from the G8 countries in calling on heads of government to follow the example of the United Kingdom in fulfilling existing commitments to spend 0.7% of national income on aid. The Secretary of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United Kingdom signed the letter on behalf of other Baha’i communities in the G8 countries. Over 60 religious leaders pointed out that as of 5 April, 1000 days remain to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline.

The religious leaders state that the UK, currently the Presidency of the G8, has the potential to advance the MDG agenda in ways that address the underlying causes of poverty by ensuring that wealth created by developing countries is not lost through unfair tax practices, a lack of transparency or a failure to secure the benefits of trade.

“Meeting the remaining targets, while challenging, is possible – but only if governments do not waiver from the moral and political commitments made over a decade ago,” the letter stresses.

The religious leaders’ statement proposes a G8 Convention on Tax Transparency committing signatory countries to preventing individuals and companies from hiding wealth, so that it cannot be traced. Further, they call on the G8 to press for greater financial transparency from governments of developing countries so that citizens can hold their governments accountable for the money they spend.

“Development is working but challenges remain,” the letter points out. “The number of people living in extreme poverty has been halved ahead of time and 14,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990. Yet one in eight people still go to bed hungry every night and more than 2 million die of malnutrition each year.

“Reaching a purposeful consensus on these areas won’t be easy. But, if the political will and moral leadership is forthcoming, this year’s G8 could help to create an environment that encourages the conditions for inclusive, equitable and sustainable economic growth – conditions that are desperately needed if we are to realise the MDGs and even greater things beyond.”

The Baha’i Community of Canada assisted with organizing the 2010 G8 Religious Leaders Summit when the G8 and G20 summits were held in Canada, and a Baha’i representative was part of the Canadian delegation at those meetings and at the one in France the following year.

The link to the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) for international development that were officially established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000 is here.

The full text of the letter can be read on-line here.

Some religious leaders and individuals are joining a Twitter campaign – #1000DaysToGo – to draw attention to the challenge of meeting the Millennium Development Goals.