World Leaders Shouldn't Put Development on the Back Burner, says Charity

International charity World Vision applauded the progress made by international leaders at the recent G8 and G20 summits in Canada, but expressed concern about "low promises and expectations" put forth by rich countries and a focus on economic recovery in place of development work.

Several initiatives tabled by the G20, including the cancellation of Haiti's international debt, the reaffirmation of commitments to the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), and the creation of the G20 Working Group on Development, were praised by World Vision staff members

For the G8, the charity group was "encouraged" that the leaders placed emphasis on the issue of child and maternal health, which World Vision calls "the greatest silent emergency of our time."

"We're pleased to see the G8 leaders have taken [the issue] seriously this year," Dave Toycen, CEO of World Vision Canada said.

"But for the 24,000 children under the age of five who are dying today, the sense of urgency is missing," he added.

World Vision also stressed child and maternal health for G20 leaders, saying that the success of their summit "can't be measured by only economic indicators, which are meaningless unless human lives are saved and vulnerable families' well-being improved."

"It is critical that the G20 make child and maternal health, the furthest off-track of the 2015 Millennium Development Goals, the priority of its working group on development," the group said.

The G8 and G20 meetings in Muskoka and Toronto, Canada brought together the leaders of countries representing 87 percent of the world's GDP from June 25-27 to discuss global economic and political issues.

Both of the groups' final communiqués focused mostly on recovery after the financial crisis although statements against Iran and North Korea were also made by the G8.

Regarding North Korea's alleged March 26 sinking of a South Korean warship, which killed 46 sailors, the G8 said that "such an incident is a challenge to peace and security in the region and beyond" and called for "appropriate measures to be taken against those responsible for the attack" in accordance with international law.

About Iran's nuclear program, the G8 said that they are "profoundly concerned" with the "continued lack of transparency regarding its nuclear activities," and called on Iran to "implement relevant resolutions to restore international confidence in the peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program."

Besides such resolutions, the G8 also made a first time commitment to annually publish their aid figures and the results those dollars are achieving – a move that World Vision said is an "important step in the right direction," although adding that emphasis and dialogue must be translated into action.

"Looking forward, success is not in communiqués or meetings. It's in the delivery, of strong health services, of more health workers, of immunisation programmes and of healthy meals for children," said Sue Mbaya, director of advocacy for World Vision Africa.

"This G8 has promised to save 1.3 million children. We will work to ensure this happens--and will continue to push them to address the remaining millions still at risk," she added.

World Vision further called on the G20 Working Group on Development to keep each G20 member accountable for "rapid progress" towards meeting the MDG's, which are set for 2015.

A major review of the MDG's and the progress made towards them will happen in September of this year.

Copyright © 2013 Ecumenical News