Don’t let the poorest pay the price of economic downturn, Oxfam warns G7

Published: 8 February 2008

G7 Finance Ministers must not allow concerns over the bleak economic outlook to knock poverty and international aid issues off the agenda when they meet in Tokyo tomorrow. Urgent action is needed to help those who are already the hardest hit by climate change and who are now in danger of becoming the worst affected by the global economic slowdown.

The international financial crisis is set to dominate the first major meeting of the Japanese Presidency of the G8, but Oxfam has written to G7 Finance Ministers ahead of the meeting to warn them that they must now adopt a clear timetable if they are to get back on track with the aid promises made by G8 leaders at Gleneagles in 2005.

“The bleak economic outlook makes it more important than ever that aid promises and the impact of climate change on the world’s poorest communities remain firmly on the agenda," said Max Lawson, senior policy adviser at Oxfam. “Relegating these issues to the bottom of the G7 priority list means worsening the plight of those who are relying on the richest nations to help lift them out of poverty by delivering on their aid promises.”

Despite promising to increase aid levels by $50 billion by 2010, overall aid levels fell in 2006 and Oxfam has calculated that the G8 is likely to miss its promise by $30 billion.

As a result, millions of people living in the world’s poorest communities will fail to receive essential services such as healthcare and education, missing out on life-saving medicines for HIV/AIDS as well as money for new teachers and health workers.

“Japanese leaders have committed to placing global health issues firmly on the agenda of their Presidency of the G8,” Lawson said. “Now is the time for them to prove that they are serious about getting the world back on track to meet the UN’s Millennium Development Goals by adopting ambitious targets for health, focusing particularly in the needs of women and children.”

Responding to anticipated proposals for an international fund to help developing countries harness the power of clean energy technologies, Lawson said: "We welcome any announcement of funding to help poor communities cope with the increasing challenges of climate change. However, we would always urge that funds are in addition to aid commitments and developing countries have a clear say in how funds are used."

Contact Information

For more information, please contact:
Dan Timms, Oxfam Media Unit in Oxford, + 44 (0)1865 472 498, +44 (0)7810 181 514 or
Louis Belanger in Washington on +1 202 321 2967

For more information on climate change issues contact: Lucy Brinicombe, Oxfam Media Unit (UK), + 44 (0)1865 472 192, +44 (0)7786 110 054