World Council of Churches

A worldwide fellowship of churches seeking unity, a common witness and Christian service

Pastoral Letter to the G8

20 May 2005

Letter to H.E. Tony Blair, Chairman of the 2005 G8 Summit, 20 May, 2005

Your Excellency,

At the outset we express our congratulations to you on your re-election as Prime

Minister of the UK. We watched the elections with keen interest and were happy

to note your continuing commitment to social justice for all and your reiteration

of the need to focus on Africa that you so clearly expressed in your first comments

to the press after your election. We look forward with keen anticipation to your

leadership of the G8 and the challenges you hope to inspire them with. Our thoughts

and prayers will accompany you as you discharge this noble responsibility.

The WCC is aware of the meeting of the G8 that will take place in Scotland in

July 2005 and its crucial importance to the whole world, and we therefore take

this opportunity to address to you some concerns that we pray the G8 will focus

on during the meeting.

We write this pastoral letter to the G8 so as to raise a candle in a world that seems

to be floundering in the dark rather than more resolutely promoting an economy

of sharing and justice as a solution to poverty and environmental destruction. For

the WCC justice has been and will always be the heart of the matter.

Life in dignity for all in just and sustainable communities is the framework that

has determined the ecumenical vision to respond to the pressing concerns of economy

and ecology. But we are convinced that such a vision can become a reality

only when economic, financial and ecological justice is addressed holistically, with

democratic participation of all, at all levels. The vision can never be achieved while

the material over-abundance enjoyed by a small part of the global community continues

to grow side-by-side with (and most often at the expense of) the abject poverty

of a large proportion of this community, resulting in increasingly unconscionable

levels of inequity. The number of people who suffer from extreme poverty, hunger

and a lack of health have increased in the past decade because of systems of global

injustice. The WCC, therefore, urges the G8 to rethink the logic of corporate

globalization, which we believe has only sharpened the gap between the rich and

the poor and has led to a destruction of the environment. The grinding poverty

experienced by millions in our world today is derived from economic models of

excessive competition motivated by profits. The WCC cautions that if no drastic

changes are made in the present paradigms of economic growth, there will only

be an aggravation of poverty leading to insecurity, violence and unnecessary deaths.

The WCC calls on the G8 to see the current global problems in a holistic way and

not only adopt a piecemeal approach based on minor adjustments. It is in this spirit

that we call on the G8 to consider seriously how to operationalize goal number

of the MDGs. Issues of equity and justice must be addressed under this goal if

poverty is to be eliminated. We believe firmly that it is this goal that will determine

the success of the remaining seven. It is indeed regrettable that the MDG

process is the most unspecific when it comes to implementation. Trade expansion

and increased growth cannot be achieved by neglecting equity and justice. We

therefore urge the G8 to make equity and justice central to their deliberations.


On the question of external debts

In the short term, the WCC urges the G8 to cancel 100 percent of illegitimate

debts for poor countries. However, the WCC asks that these measures be taken

in following through this commitment:

• Finance of cancellation should not be drawn from ODA.

• There should be a 100 percent cancellation of debt stock and the focus

should not be only on relieving debt service payments (UK plan).

• Cancellation be applied to all impoverished nations, not simply to those

that qualify for the IMF/World Bank's HIPC initiative.

• Debt cancellation to come without externally imposed conditions on impoverished

nations.

• IMF/World Bank must pay their fair share. The IMF could sell its gold

reserves to raise more than $35 billion required to finance the cancellation

of the IMF and World Bank debts. The World Bank could mobilize at least

$17 billion in accumulated and future profits for debt cancellation.

• Support be given to initiatives to transfer financial resources from the South

to the North and return stolen wealth of the South that is presently located

in the banks of countries in the North.

• Support the introduction of a Currency Transaction Tax to curb financial

speculation.


On ODA

As far back as 1970, the WCC initiated the goal of 2 percent of GNI dedicated

to ODA. We still believe this should be the goal. However, for pragmatic reasons

and in the short term, we urge the G8 to:

• Achieve an average level of 0.7% of GNI to be allocated to overseas aid by

2010.

• Donors adopt timetables for reaching the target of 0.7%.

• Prioritise low-income countries and allocate at least 20% of aid to the

improvement of education, health care, water supplies and sanitation in

these countries.

• No requirements to be imposed to purchase goods and services in donor

countries (so- called ‘tied aid').

• Aid aimed at building the economic capacity of developing countries.


On Trade

• So as to ensure justice and fairness in trade, the WCC calls on the G8 to

take the following measures:

• Give poor farmers in developing countries a chance to participate in a just

trade enabling them to get out of poverty, by immediately eliminating all

export subsidies in donor countries.

• Eliminate all trade-distorting subsidies.

• Support the right of developing countries to protect their sensitive agricultural

sectors.

• Ensure that market-access concessions work in favour of the poor.


On Climate Change

The WCC welcomes and appreciates Your Excellency's initiative to include the

issue of climate change on the agenda of G8. Since 1990, the Council has actively

supported actions to address global climate change. It has in particular supported

the people and churches in the Pacific who are beginning to experience

the effect and consequences of global warming. The G8 countries must accept

responsibility for record emissions over decades and for about 80 percent of the

increase in concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere since the industrial

revolution and for the current emissions that are almost 50 percent of the total

global emissions. We are alarmed that emissions of carbon dioxide and other

greenhouse gases are still on the increase.

The WCC has frequently called for justice for those people and environments that

are most vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. We urge G8 members:

• to take decisive action for rapid greenhouse gas emission reduction; commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol will end.

• to develop a strategic plan for committed global action - post-2012 when the first

The World Council of Churches prayerfully hopes for the positive outcome of G8

deliberations that result in significant measures to protect God's creation by

addressing the global climate change issue.


The WCC sends its prayers to the meeting of the G8 and urges that the contents

of this pastoral letter be taken seriously. WCC will continue to monitor the decisions

of the G8 to see the extent to which issues of equity and justice are addressed.

It is our hope that God's wisdom will prevail so that just and equitable sharing

of global resources will dominate the discussions at Gleneagles, Scotland.


My deepest prayer is that God will grant you this wisdom.


Rev. Dr Samuel Kobia

General Secretary