Meeting in Washington DC on the sidelines of the IMF and World Bank 2012 Spring Meetings, the Commonwealth and La Francophonie held an outreach meeting with Mexico, 2012 President of the G20, together with several members of the G20 Development Working Group (DWG). Commonwealth and Francophonie participants included a large number of developing countries from Africa, Asia-Pacific and Caribbean regions. The meeting provided an important opportunity for several of the world’s poorest, smallest and most vulnerable countries to share with the G20 Chair and some of the G20 DWG members, their experiences in addressing their most pressing development challenges, as well as their perspectives on the key priority actions needed by the international community, including the G20, to address these challenges. Participants noted a wide range of challenges, including inter alia the challenge of achieving sustainable development, addressing regional challenges and finding regional solutions to these, as well as identifying job-creating pathways to higher growth, strengthening green accounting frameworks, and addressing the challenges that many of our member countries face in building sustainable wetlands and marine resources.
We welcomed Mexico’s initiative to hold the outreach meeting and the opportunity this has provided to receive an update on recent developments within the G20, and in particular the work of the G20 DWG. Our meeting builds on the successful Commonwealth-Francophonie and G20 DWG outreach meeting held in Cape Town in 2011, which focused on the acute challenges in building growth with resilience, strengthening international trade and promoting financial inclusion in the poorest, smallest and most vulnerable members of the Commonwealth and Francophonie. Our discussions today have extended and deepened our ongoing dialogue on development issues.
We welcomed the continued pursuit by the G20 DWG of its multi-year action plan on development, noting in particular that the plan focuses on several policy challenges which are of critical importance to developing Commonwealth and Francophonie countries. As stated by the Mexican Presidency, G20 priorities for 2012 include improving food security, fostering financial inclusion, the pursuit of inclusive green growth and sustainable development and infrastructure development. Our discussions recognized that food insecurity and the challenges of building green growth and green economies in the context of sustainable development rank among the most urgent priorities in many of the poorest, smallest and most vulnerable countries of the Commonwealth and the Francophonie and accordingly we have focused our discussion today on these two priorities.
We welcome Mexico’s initiative to begin G20 work on inclusive green growth and sustainable development. This initiative recognizes the particular importance of green growth and sustainable development to low-income countries and small island developing states who are most dependent of their natural resources. We have sought to build on these efforts through a detailed discussion of the priorities, experiences and perspectives of the poorest, smallest and most vulnerable members of the Commonwealth and the Francophonie. These countries are particularly challenged by profound interconnected challenges related to climate change, water, food and energy security. For these countries, the concepts of green economies and green growth in the context of sustainable development offer an important opportunity to address their challenges in a holistic way, opening for them a transformation pathway, away from crisis, towards growth and sustainable development. Our discussion has shown that for these countries, building green economies, green growth and sustainable development can provide resilience to external shocks, reduce environmental risks and protect and enhance the natural resource base of the economy. In their pursuit of green growth and sustainable development, these countries also share many of the objectives of the G20, including the need to generate new sources of growth and employment, particularly amongst the youth, increasing energy efficiency, promoting sustainable consumption and production and renewable energy supplies.
Evidence from the poorest and smallest members of the Commonwealth and Francophonie has highlighted four key priorities for the international community, including the G20, in support of their efforts to promote green economies, green growth and sustainable development. These include a scaling up of investment in the natural resource base of developing countries as a key basis for green production and growth; new initiatives to promote knowledge sharing on the experiences, practices and lessons learned to date in forging effective pathways to green growth and sustainable development, including building communities of practice in these countries, in visioning and implementing specific Green Economy policies and strategies; identifying and securing viable financing options and frameworks to support transformative actions in developing countries; and achieving stronger and more concerted international support for costed and time-bound national implementation frameworks for the Green Economy which embrace an integrated and cross-sectoral approach tied to sustainable development objectives. Our discussions have also shown that to build momentum for the achievement of these priorities, increased international recognition and commitment will be needed, of the special challenges faced by these countries, in building more resilient economies, through key global processes in 2012, including the forthcoming G20 Los Cabos Summit, the Rio+20 Conference and the UNFCCC climate change process. We have urged that these processes be pursued with both a high level of ambition to support the development of climate resilient, lower-carbon economies in particularly vulnerable countries and strengthened efforts to bring the international community closer to an agreed and more joined-up approach to sustainable development in these countries.
We welcomed the important progress which has been made by the G20 in promoting food security and the commitment of the G20 Presidency to take this forward. Food insecurity poses an acute challenge to many of the poorest, smallest and most vulnerable members of the Commonwealth and the Francophonie. Our discussions have examined these challenges, including the causes of food insecurity in these countries in terms of both the availability of food and access to it. Compelling evidence has shown that food insecurity can quickly erode resilience and exacerbate vulnerabilities in these countries. We have examined several examples of the impacts this is having, on countries’ abilities to maintain effective social safety nets, reduce poverty and achieve sustainable growth; and have considered an extensive range of measures being implemented by these countries to promote food security, including strengthened national strategic plans, experience sharing, training, the management of food reserves, weather risk and social protection mechanisms.
We have also recognized that national efforts need to be complemented by more concerted international action to strengthen food security in the poorest, smallest and most vulnerable countries. Evidence from these countries highlights the need for a cohesive set of measures to achieve this. These include securing longer-term commitments for future investment, financial and technical assistance; enhancing support for building national capacity; enabling a growth-oriented global trade environment; adapting new research to better assist the poorest, smallest and most vulnerable developing countries; developing tools to help increase productivity for small landholders in countries that face the greatest development challenges; promoting long-term sustainable use of natural resource proceeds, adapted where possible to the needs of the poorest, smallest and most vulnerable countries; and encouraging the international community including the G20, to broaden, for these countries, the set of development issues associated with food insecurity, including a more detailed focus on environmental factors.
The Commonwealth and the Francophonie have also identified food security as a major global challenge. Commonwealth Heads of Government discussed food security at their summit in Perth in October 2011 and set out the Perth Declaration on Food Security Principles; and leaders of the Francophonie at their Summit meetings in 2008 and 2010 have similarly strongly emphasized the urgency in addressing food insecurity in the poorest developing countries. We recognized that the two associations have strong comparative advantages in advocacy and consensus building, developing networks of support, sharing knowledge and learning, both among countries and regions. We noted that research by the two associations, into some relatively lesser known causes of food security, the inter-linkages among food security, trade and green growth and sustainable development, and on how the causes and impacts of food insecurity have differing impacts across countries, can contribute to a better understanding of the some of the international policy measures to be adopted in addressing food insecurity.
We welcomed Mexico’s commitment to intensive G20 outreach and the work of the Commonwealth and Francophonie Secretariats on food security and green growth and sustainable development. We have agreed to continue to collaborate closely to facilitate dialogue and the sharing of knowledge and information across G20 and non-G20 member states, and with wider audiences. We agreed that a strong outreach process by the G20 DWG is essential to the success of its multi-year action plan on development and that the Commonwealth and the Francophonie, two associations which include the majority of the worlds’ poorest, smallest and most vulnerable countries, can play an important role in bringing to the attention of the DWG the key developmental challenges and priorities of these countries. We have agreed to explore further opportunities to deepen the dialogue between the G20 DWG and the two associations.
We thanked the Mexican G20 Presidency for facilitating this meeting and the World Bank for providing the venue for our meeting. We are also grateful to the Government of Australia for its financial support for the Commonwealth-G20 development dialogue.