In its recent report published in October 2010 under the title “The Making of a Seoul Development consensus”1, Oxfam––a non-governmental organization (NG0)––wants the next G-20 Summit to be held in South Korea in November to be the opportunity for the international community to adopt a true “consensus on development” by synthesizing the issues of economic growth, climate and world hunger.
Created in the aftermath of the 2008 financial chaos, the G-20 summit has become the major global forum where heads of states and governments meet. Up to now, the issues addressed were mainly related to the technical aspects of economic and financial crises, but did not really touch upon matters related to the economic development of populations and world hunger.
Yet, as stated in the report, the increasing interconnection between markets and economies imparts any disorder or crisis with a global and systemic character. According to the NGO, such “character is bound to intensify” and it is necessary to deal with all fundamental issues.
This is particularly valid for agriculture. Improving food security and stabilizing markets represent a key challenge, in which financial and currency variables are playing a major role, due to the financilization of agriculture.
Thus, to implement a truly effective global development program, Oxfam believes that the G-20 must address four key issues for agriculture:
- “Tackling the causes of hunger by actions including the development of mechanisms to avert global food price crises and ensure greater stability in global food markets;”
So that this new “development policy” becomes operative and efficient, Oxfam recommends to take action on four levels:
- “Investing in small-scale farmers;”
- “Ensuring that a global food renaissance not only produces more food but does so in a way that is more sustainable, more resilient and more equitable for the world’s poor people;”
- “Ensuring global action on international land acquisitions.”
The Oxfam report is in total accordance with the momagri’s thinking that is now starting to be recognized at the international level by France, Brazil, Germany and the FAO. Such thinking emphasizes the need to develop agriculture to fight world hunger and to regulate agricultural markets, now confronted to increased and uncontrolled financialization. A new consensus is emerging on the objectives to be reached and the groundbreaking role to be played by the G-20.
Oxfam considers that current international taxation remains unfair and prevents many countries to raise resources domestically or to apply appropriate tariffs. Consequently, the NGO calls on the G-20 to fight the tax havens that illegally deprive developing countries of desperately needed resources.
The report questions a multilateral trading system that continues to be deeply biased. For Oxfam, fair trade rules are essential to guarantee development. This is why G-20 members must agree to implement new financial commitments, including aid for trade to build up the domestic economic infrastructure of developing countries.
- External finance.
Oxfam suggests new financing solutions that could provide new sources of revenue for development, such as, for instance, a tax on the financial sector––of around 0.05 percent on all transactions––that would also curb speculation. For G-8 members, this represents an instrument to keep their word and deliver the $20 billion shortfall against original commitments by 2012.
- Financial regulation.
The NGO advocates the implementation of a new regulatory framework aimed at preventing future financial crises and protecting the most vulnerable people. The G-20 must also ensure that various international organizations, such as the Committee on World Food Security (CFS) and the Bank of International Settlements (BIS), play a greater role in market regulation.
The hard part remains to be done however, since this consensus must generate concrete policies. As holder of the G-8/G-20 presidency starting on November 12, France must tackle this particularly difficult task to arrive at political and economic recommendations in agreement with all countries.