G20 must deliver for the most vulnerable: Tim Costello

World leaders must look beyond GDP growth numbers to the human impact of their economic reform commitments, international aid and development organisation World Vision said today.

In the countdown to the Brisbane G20 Leaders Summit, World Vision Australia chief executive Tim Costello said global policy-makers should ensure those at risk of being excluded from the benefits of growth are not left behind.

“Economic growth that only benefits the already wealthy is not going to make the world a more stable, fair and just place,” Mr Costello said. “The most vulnerable – especially children and people living in extreme poverty – need to be considered by those with the power to shape the world economy.”

Mr Costello – who is also chair of the official civil society G20 engagement group, the C20 – said one of the key levers available to the leaders of the world’s largest economies is their governments’ massive purchasing power.

World Vision’s report on child labour exploitation – released earlier this year – provides a roadmap for the G20 to address the abuse and loss of childhood which is the reality for the world’s 168 million child labourers

The Creating markets for child-friendly growth report urges the G20 to protect the world’s children from the economic exploitation often concealed within global value chains.

World Vision International Global Policy Director Kirsty Nowlan said G20 nations represent 85 per cent of global GDP, and are ideally placed to challenge the economic drivers which encourage child labour exploitation.

“Economies which turn a blind eye to the exploitation of children are condemning individuals, families and communities to a bleak future,” Dr Nowlan said. “They are bypassing opportunities to improve job prospects for older youth and adults, depressing adult wages and standing by while tens of millions of children are excluded from developing to their potential.”

“In the world today, one in 10 children over five years of age labour to the detriment of their health and development – working instead of going to school, and in many cases, in hazardous and intolerable conditions – and 44 per cent of them are between five and 11 years old,” Dr Nowlan said.

“Today’s reality is that the goods purchased by governments and individual consumers alike are increasingly ‘made in the world’ via long and complex global value chains. Persistent pressures to create products at the lowest possible price and the fragmentation of production processes means that child labour can be hidden at virtually any stage of production.”

The report sets out the need for a common approach to identifying, reporting and addressing child labour in the value chains of the $10 to $15 trillion worth of goods and services that G20 governments are expected to purchase in 2014.

Dr Nowlan said she was encouraged by the response of the G20’s Labour and Employment Ministers’ group to the concerns raised by World Vision.

Following their meeting in Melbourne in September, the Labour Ministers committed to prioritising measures to eliminate forced and child labour.

“We now need to see that commitment translate into a common approach to identifying, reporting and addressing child labour in the value chains of the $10 to $15 trillion worth of goods and services that G20 governments are expected to purchase in 2014,” Dr Nowlan said.

World Vision is also calling on the G20 to include developing nations in the formulation and rollout of economic reforms which boost inclusive growth.

A strong commitment to global tax reform which would improve the ability of developing nation governments to provide basic services for their citizens is also crucial to underpin sustainable growth, and allow greater investment in the health and education of hundreds of millions of people.

Media contact: Kris Gough – 0481 005 468 /kris.gough@worldvision.com.au

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