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Dr Cyrus Rustomjee, the Director of Economic Affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat (3rd from left), speaks during the G20 Development Working Group

Image of Dr Cyrus Rustomjee, the Director of Economic Affairs at the Commonwealth Secretariat  (3rd from left), speaking during the G20 Development Working Group

Commonwealth makes case for small, vulnerable countries at G20 meeting in Moscow

17 May 2013
The contribution by the Commonwealth at this meeting has been timely, relevant and productive - Andrey Bokarev, chair of the Russian G20 Development Working Group

The G20 group of the world’s leading economies should deepen consideration of the development concerns of small, poor and vulnerable economies in their efforts to promote equitable and sustainable economic growth.

Dr Cyrus Rustomjee, Director of the Economic Affairs Division at the Commonwealth Secretariat, told a meeting of the G20 Development Working Group that in order to find effective solutions to overcome poverty, enhance growth and improve the livelihoods of the world’s poor, G20 policy-making should be inclusive, representative, transparent and accountable.

Speaking in the Russian capital, Moscow, Dr Rustomjee said: “The needs, challenges and perspectives of the world’s smallest, poorest and most vulnerable economies need to be kept in mind by the G20, to ensure greater credibility and legitimacy of their work.

“We want to thank the Russian G20 Presidency for providing an opportunity to contribute perspectives and experiences from the wide membership of the small, poor and vulnerable countries of the Commonwealth.”

Dr Rustomjee was presenting a paper on G20 outreach activities with the Commonwealth and La Francophonie - two organisations representing over 70 countries. He noted that there has been a growing and productive relationship between the two organisations and successive G20 Presidencies, since Canada’s Presidency of the G20 in 2010.

“A first step in developing G20 outreach to the Commonwealth and La Francophonie occurred in 2010, when Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper invited the Secretaries-General of the two organisations to discuss key development challenges and priorities of their countries,” he said.

The establishment of the G20 Development Working Group followed, focusing on critical pillars such as growth with resilience, trade, financial inclusion, food security and development of infrastructure. This opened up a clearer and more focussed opportunity for the two organisations to make technical contributions to the working group. The Commonwealth-G20 relationship has been deepening and strengthening each year since 2010; and has taken a further step forward during the Russian G20 Presidency.

Dr Rustomjee said the Commonwealth and La Francophonie have contributed analytical papers on key priority areas for each of the G20 Presidencies, with one on inclusive green growth during the Mexican Presidency; and two others on the post-2015 development framework and G20 accountability - both priorities for the Russian G20 Presidency in 2013.

He said that by providing a platform for non-G20 countries to inform discussions of the G20 development programmes, a better understanding of the acute challenges of some of the poorest, smallest and most vulnerable Commonwealth countries is being promoted with the G20; and mutual trust, confidence, credibility and legitimacy are being enhanced.

The Chair of the G20 Development Working Group during Russia’s Presidency, Andrey Bokarev, welcomed the Commonwealth’s contribution to the outreach efforts of the G20.

“The contribution by the Commonwealth Secretariat during this meeting has been timely, productive and relevant. They have given us a better understanding of the concerns of developing countries which will enable us to plan and implement practical responses to their needs,” he said.

“It was a great idea to establish co-operation with the Commonwealth Secretariat. We look forward to many more opportunities for collaboration.”

Samantha Attridge, Adviser and Head of International Finance and Capital Markets at the Secretariat, presented a paper on accountability of the G20’s development agenda. She said there is need to address the enabling factors for boosting development in developing countries. Such ‘development enablers’ include infrastructure, strengthening of national institutions, a fair global trading regime, migration, trade and investment and combating corruption.

Drawing from the findings of a survey of perspectives from developing countries, Ms Attridge said that there is a need to adopt a bottom-up approach to accountability, including non-G20 member countries in agenda setting. As a global economic power, there are expectations that the G20 should act more firmly to close development gaps.

Ms Attridge said in the survey, developing countries from the Commonwealth indicated that climate change, renewable energy, natural resource management, disaster risk reduction, heath care and poverty reduction are critical areas that they would like to see considered by the G20.