Progressive step

  • October 2, 2009
{mosimage}The most recent casualty of the global financial crisis is the economic organization widely blamed for causing the near-collapse of the world economy. The G8 has been retired from its role as caretaker of world finances, giving way to the G20, a younger, more inclusive organization that comprises nations from every region in the world.

This historic transfer of power, which occurred Sept. 25 at a G20 summit in Pittsburgh, marks  a significant — and welcomed — evolution in world relations. The G8, forged during the Cold War as an economic alliance of mostly rich, Western nations, had become an anachronism in a world in which emerging economies in Asia, Africa and South America have been playing a greater role in global affairs.

As American President Barack Obama put it in his closing remarks in Pittsburgh: “We can no longer meet the challenges of the 21st century economy with 20th-century approaches.” That meant finding a place at the table for the likes of China, India, Indonesia, Brazil, Australia and South Korea.
This emerging new world order holds the promise of building a broader international consensus to eventually deliver greater global prosperity, act on climate change and enhance international security.  What was an old-boys club dominated by Europe and North America has become a more inclusive international economic organization representing a much broader swath of the world’s peoples, economies, cultures and religions. Assuming the G20 can forge an efficient working relationship, it stands to reason that citizens of Latin America, Asia and Africa will see it as a more legitimate representative of their economic concerns.

The impetus for this historic change was the financial crisis that was born of greed and nurtured in the boardrooms of many old-world corporations. So the first order of business for the G20 is to continue with aggressive initiatives to revive the world economy while purging the financial system of the corporate recklessness that ignited the collapse. That’s a tall order in itself.

But muscling up from a G8 to G20 must also be a catalyst to greater causes. The G20 has a moral obligation to the world’s poor. It needs to continue and expand the work of the old G8 in raising standards of nutrition, health, literacy, employment and housing in impoverished nations and, ultimately, guide the poor into the club of developed nations.

In commenting on the financial crisis in his encyclical, Charity in Truth, Pope Benedict XVI stated that profit should be a tool to serve the common good otherwise, if profit itself is the exclusive goal, “it risks destroying wealth and creating poverty.” He also stressed that solutions to the current economic crisis must include development aid to poor countries as “a valid means of creating wealth for all.”

The morphing of the G8 into the G20 marks a progressive step in world affairs. But there remain many steps to go.

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