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World Leaders Pledge Strategy To End Poverty Now
Davos, Switzerland, 27 January 2010 – In preparation for the 40th anniversary annual meeting of the World Economic Forum, several key world leaders have pledged to develop, by the end of this year's meeting, a cogent and actionable plan to end global poverty.
"Nobody wants a catastrophe," said Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper. "Canadians don't want that reputation." (See video here.)
Above all, the new policy statements are indicative of significant change of direction by some of the most powerful people in the world. The testimonials augur a watershed week during which the leading powers of Davos will be striking at the heart of policies and structures that, while contributing to economic growth for businesses, have created the conditions for poverty and have threatened the very survival of humankind.
The Forum's bold change of direction comes after an exhaustive internal survey by the Forum's Leadership Council, as well as extensive consultation with anti-poverty leaders and campaigners in the developing world. Among the statistics presented:
Professor Schwab noted that the need to end poverty is felt especially strongly this year, with an earthquake-ravaged Haiti foremost on people's minds. A series of protracted pre-conference discussions were held by Forum members in response to the recent gaffe by the International Monetary Fund, in which the Fund's loan to Haiti, bearing a number of onerous conditions, became the target of popular uproar, forcing the Fund to commit the monies in the form of a grant instead.
In a refreshing taste of things to come, Forum members resolved to supplement the IMF grant with a much larger, multi-billion dollar unconditional grant to Haiti, to be excised from the more than USD$60 billion that New York's financial sector awarded themselves in bonuses this year.
"It is by now universally understood that many of our institutions were directly responsible for the collapse of housing value, not to mention massive unemployment and misery, in the United States and much of the rich world," said Lloyd Blanfein, Chair of the New York Financial Caucus, and current Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs.
"But it is equally true that we in the financial sector bear much responsibility for Haiti's poverty, which has made it impossible for them to even begin to deal with the current tragedy," added Blanfein. "The least we can do to repay our moral debt is to immediately lift up the collapsed Haitian economy, and not by making usurious loans through the IMF, either."
Notes to Editors
The World Economic Forum is an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging leaders in partnerships to shape global, regional and industry agendas.
Incorporated as a foundation in 1971, and based in Geneva, Switzerland, the World Economic Forum is impartial and not-for-profit; it is tied to no political, partisan or national interests. (http://www.we-forum.org)
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