To coincide with the Labour Party conference in the UK, STWR published a full page open letter in The Guardian (Monday 24th September) and Modern Gov magazine (handed to all party conference attendees in the UK) which directly addressed Prime Minister Gordon Brown.
Prime Minister, as the conference season begins we urge you to recognise that more aid, fairer trade and less debt is not enough to address the problems of the developing world. It is time to accept that we will never end poverty and create a sustainable world unless we restrain excessive consumerism and reform the global economy to prioritise basic human needs.
As argued for decades by campaigners, economic growth and free trade disproportionately benefits multinationals, neglects the environment and fails to account for human well-being. Yet to counteract the inherent inequities of a market economy, the only mechanism of redistribution in place is the inadequate donation of international aid which avoids the provision of a global safety net.
The agreed aid target of 0.7 percent of rich countries GDP has never been met in almost 40 years, and even if the Millennium Development Goal for halving extreme poverty is achieved by 2015 there will still be 900 million people living on less than one dollar a day.
As also established, there are not nearly enough resources in the world for all nations to consume the same amount as the wealthiest countries, yet G8 governments, the IMF, World Bank and WTO continue to globalise market forces which proliferate overconsumption. When will policy makers realise that commercialisation is the root cause of global warming, that climate change will not be mitigated unless we learn to live sustainably within ecological limits?
We ask you to acknowledge that the world economy is based upon outdated values, that self-interest and unregulated competition must be replaced with the principles of sharing and cooperation.
Sharing is not an ‘ism’ or an ideology but a natural law of economy that is being fatally neglected at the international level. Essential resources such as food, clean water, medicine and energy must no longer be solely controlled by corporations or nation states, but shared internationally under the auspices of a reformed United Nations.
Until we share the global commons, mass poverty, rising inequality and increased conflicts over natural resources will continue to distance humanity from lasting peace and security.
It is clear, Prime Minister, that the challenge to create a sustainable world economy that prioritises human rights is monumental – yet it has never been more essential. As you said; “Great challenges require great acts of statesmanship,” but it also requires the bold recognition of what doesn’t work.
To achieve your vision of making globalisation “a force for justice on a global scale” requires the transformation of international political relations and economic structures. If concerned citizens are to come together and form a “coalition of conscience”, it must be as part of a global campaign to immediately secure basic human needs for all.
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, we call on you to initiate an international dialogue for economic reform and to communicate the collected demands of civil society to share the world’s resources.