No Time to Slacken

PITTSBURGH – Almost six months ago, at a moment of great alarm about the global financial and economic crisis, G-20 leaders met for a historic summit in London. Their collective commitments to stimulate, regulate and restructure global economic activity helped to calm nerves around the world.

Many of the problems that spurred the London summit remain real. Anxiety levels may have come down, in board rooms and stock markets, but the daily drama for survival continues.  Indeed, for many people it has deepened, in the villages and streets of the world’s least-developed countries – particularly in Africa.

The United Nations and the World Bank predict that the direct and indirect effects of the economic meltdown will be felt in the developing world for a long time to come. Jobs have gone, incomes have been lost and opportunities foregone. Tens of millions of people have been added to the hundreds of millions already below the poverty line, reversing progress toward attaining the world’s Millennium Development Goals. 

The London G-20 meeting recognized that the world’s poorest countries and people should not be penalized by a crisis for which they were not responsible. With this in mind, the G-20 leaders set out an ambitious agenda for an inclusive and wide-ranging response. If the Pittsburgh summit is not to be an anticlimactic end to the G-20’s ascendancy as a forum for decisive action, the momentum generated must be maintained. Four issues provide the opportunity to do so.