LogoReligious leaders from across the G8 countries have called on heads of government to follow the UK in fulfilling existing commitments to spend 0.7% of national income on aid, in a letter to the Financial Times. More than 70 religious leaders point out that from today 1000 days remain to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline.

With a focus on tax, trade and transparency, the religious leaders argue, the UK Presidency of the G8 has the potential to advance the MDG agenda in ways that strike at the underlying causes of poverty, in particular by ensuring the wealth created by developing countries is not lost through unfair tax practices, a lack of transparency or a failure to secure the benefits of trade for developing countries.

“Development is working. But challenges remain,” the letter says. “The number of people living in extreme poverty has been halved ahead of time and 14,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990. Yet 1 in 8 people still go to bed hungry every night and over 2 million die of malnutrition each year.”

Full text of letter

Dear Sir

Today marks the start of the 1000 day countdown to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by the 2015 deadline. It is an appropriate moment for heads of government of the Group of Eight leading economies to pause and to reflect on progress to date.

Development is working. But challenges remain. The number of people living in extreme poverty has been halved ahead of time and 14,000 fewer children die each day than in 1990. Yet one in eight people still go to bed hungry every night and over 2 million die of malnutrition each year.

Even as conversations accelerate as to what ought to replace the MDGs, we should not slacken our efforts towards realising existing goals. Meeting the remaining targets, while challenging, is possible – but only if governments do not waiver from the moral and political commitments made over a decade ago.

Thirteen years on from the start of the Millennium the values and principles that drive these goals are as imperative as ever. The financial crisis may be a reason but is not an excuse for hesitation or deferral. The MDGs remind us that in addition to providing for the well being of our own societies, we have a collective responsibility to uphold human dignity and the common good at the global level. Each individual has a value that can never be lost and must never be ignored.

With a focus on tax, trade and transparency, the UK Presidency of the G8 this year has the potential to advance the MDG agenda in ways that strike at the underlying causes of poverty, in particular by ensuring the wealth created by developing countries is not lost through unfair tax practices, a lack of transparency or a failure to secure the benefits of trade for developing countries.

As religious leaders from across the G8 we recommend that our heads of government take the following actions when they meet in June. First, fulfil existing commitments to spend 0.7% of national income on aid. Secondly, launch a G8 Convention on Tax Transparency committing signatory countries to prevent individuals and companies from hiding wealth so that it’s untraceable. Thirdly, press for greater financial transparency from governments of developing countries so that the citizens of these countries can hold their governments to account for the money they spend.

Reaching a purposeful consensus on these areas won’t be easy. But, if the political will and moral leadership is forthcoming, this year’s G8 could help to create an environment that encourages the conditions for inclusive, equitable and sustainable economic growth – conditions that are desperately needed if we are to realise the MDGs and even greater things beyond.

Yours

The Most Revd and Rt Hon Justin Welby
Lord Archbishop of Canterbury

The Most Revd Vincent Nichols
Archbishop of Westminster

The Most Revd Philip Tartaglia
Archbishop of Glasgow

Rt Revd Albert O. Bogle
Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland

The Most Revd David Chillingworth
Bishop of St Andrews, Dunkeld and Dunblane
Primus of the Scottish Episcopal Church

Revd Jonathan Edwards
General Secretary, Baptist Union of Great Britain

Mr Paul Parker
Recording Clerk, Religious Society of Friends in Britain

Rev Roberta Rominger
General Secretary of the United Reformed Church

Rev Dr Michael Jagessar
Moderator of the General Assembly of the United Reformed Church

Rev Dr Mark Wakelin
President of the Conference of the Methodist Church in Britain

Revd Simon Walkling
Moderator, National Synod of Wales of the United Reformed Church

Rev R. Kenneth Lindsay
President of the Methodist Church in Ireland,

Archbishop Paul Hackman
Trans-Atlantic and Pacific Alliances of Churches

Commissioner Clive Adams
Territorial Commander, Salvation Army, UK and ROI

Rt Revd Mar Theodosius
Diocesan Epicsopa, Mar Thoma Church

Rev Michael Heaney,
General Secretary of the Congregational Federation

Rev Torbjørn Holt
Chairman, Council of Lutheran Churches in the UK

Rt Revd Munib Younan
President, Lutheran World Federation

Ravinder Kaur Nijjar
Co-Chair of Religions for Peace European Women of Faith Network

Lord Indarjit Singh, OBE
Network of Sikh Organisations

Dr Julian Bond
Director, Christian-Muslim Forum

Dr Natubhai Shah, MBE
Chair/CEO Jain Network

Bhai Sahib, Bhai Mohinder Singh Ahluwalia
Chairman, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha

National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United Kingdom

Dr Muhammad Abdul Bari, MBE
Chairman of the East London Mosque, and former Secretary General of the Muslim Council of Britain

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner,
Movement Rabbi for the Movement for Reform Judaism

Rabbi Natan Levy,
Environmental Liaison to the Chief Rabbi’s Office

Rabbi Danny Rich
Chief Executive, Liberal Judaism

Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg
Senior Rabbi of the Masorti Movement

Rt Revd Paul Hendricks
Auxiliary Bishop, Archdiocese of Southwark and Co-Chair, Christian Muslim Forum

Anjum Anwar MBE
Dialogue Development Officer, exChange Project, Blackburn Cathedral; Chair, Woman’s Voice; Trustee, Christian Muslim Forum

His Eminence Metropolitan Emmanuel of France
Ecumenical Patriarchate, President of the Conference of European Churches

The Most Revd. Dr. Katharine Schori
Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church of the United States of America

Mr Dave Courchene
Elder and Spiritual Leader, Anishnabe Nation, Eagle Clan

Mrs Pascale Fremond
President, Religions for Peace Canada

Victor C. Goldbloom M.D.
Companion of the Order of Canada, Past Chair, National Executive, Canadian Jewish Congress

The Most Revd Fred Hiltz
Archbishop of the Anglican Church of Canada

Mr Mark Huyser-Wierenga
Chair of the Board, Citizens for Public Justice

Rt Revd Susan C. Johnson
National Bishop, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada

Mobeenuddin H. Khaja, O.Ont.
President, Association of Progressive Muslims of Canada

The Right Revd Gary Paterson
Moderator, the United Church of Canada

Pandit Roopnauth Sharma
President Hindu Federation and Spiritual Leader Shri Ram Mandir, Mississauga

Mr. Prem Singh Vinning
President, World Sikh Organization of Canada

The Rev. Dr. James Christie
Director, Ridd Institute for Religion and Global Policy, University of Winnipeg, Canada

The Rev. Dr. Karen Hamilton
General Secretary, The Canadian Council of Churches

Major Jim Champ
President, The Canadian Council of Churches

Dr. h.c. Nikolaus Schneider
Chair of the Council of the Evangelical Church in Germany

Rt Revd Martin Schindehütte
Head of the Department for Ecumenical Relations and Ministries Abroad, Evangelical Church in Germany

Rev. Regina Claas
General Secretary, Union of Evangelical Free Churches in Germany

Prof. Dr. Johannes Lähnemann
Vice Secretary of the Round Tables of Religions in Germany

Rabbi Dr. Henry G. Brandt
General Rabbi Conference of the Central Council of Jews in Germany

Mr Bekir Alboga
Deputy General Secretary of the Turkish Islamic Union of the Public Institution for Religion, Germany

Dr. Timmo Guezelmansur
Head of the Center for Christian Muslim Dialogue of the Catholic Bishop’s Conference in Germany

Prof. Dr. Assaad Elias Kattan,
Orthodox Churches in Germany

Rt Revd Prof. Dr. Martin Hein
Protestant Church of Kurhessen-Waldeck

Dr. Nicola Towfigh
High Spiritual Council of Baha’i in Germany

Mr Michael Gerhard
Council of the Buddhist Union in Germany

Most Rev. Masanori Yoshimura
President, Japanese Association of Religious Organizations
Patriarch, Shinto Shinshu-kyo

Most Ven. Yukei Matsunaga
Honorary President, G8 Religious Leaders Summit 2008
Patriarch, Shingon Esoteric Buddhism

Very Ven. Koho Murayama
President, International Religious Fellowship
Lord Chancellor, Soto Zen Buddhism

Most Revd. Mitsuo Miyake
President, International Association for Religious Freedom
Senior Chief Minister, Shinto Konko Church of Izuo

Most Ven. Jisho Omori
Patriarch, Benten-shu Buddhism
Chief Abbot, Myoohji Temple

Most Ven. Nisshin Matsushita
Patriarch, Honmon Hokke-shu Lotus Buddhism
Chief Abbot, Myorenji Temple

Rev. Takeshi Nishida
President, Itto-en Religious Community
Adviser, Religion for Peace / Japan

Most Revd. Tsunetada Mayumi
Chief Priest, Sumiyoshi Grand Shrine

Notes:

  • The Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) are eight international development goals that were officially established following the Millennium Summit of the United Nations in 2000, following the adoption of the United Nations Millennium Declaration. All 193 United Nations member states and at least 23 international organizations have agreed to achieve these goals by the year 2015. Additional information about the Millennium Development Goals can be found at www.un.org/millenniumgoals
  • The full text of the letter can be read on-line at www.ft.com/comment/letters and at www.quaker.org.uk/news