BAN: Accounting for success

Economic powers must be responsible to the most vulnerable

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This week, the leaders of the world’s largest economies will gather in Canada. Many of the questions on the summit table echo concerns around kitchen tables everywhere.

Will the troubles in the eurozone plunge the world into a double-dip recession? Can the upswing in emerging markets offset the slide elsewhere?

Are we finally emerging, like survivors of a hurricane, to assess the extent of the damage and the needs of our neighbors? Or are we standing in the eye of the storm?

In a very real sense, the answers to all these questions depend on us - and how we manage the world economy over the coming period.

One encouraging sign is that there is a growing recognition among leaders of the need for increased accountability.

Now more than ever, we must be accountable to the most vulnerable.

The moral argument is clear. After all, those least responsible for the global economic meltdown have paid the highest price - in lost jobs, higher costs of living and growing community tensions as families struggle to make ends meet.

The economic rationale is equally compelling. Like never before, global economic recovery depends on growth in developing countries. Those who have been hit the hardest are also our best hope for driving prosperity in the future.

Despite substantial stimulus efforts in many countries, the evidence shows that these have not always “trickled down” to meet the immediate needs of the poorest and most vulnerable.

We are seeing the greatest dynamism in the emerging economies, but also the greatest pain. Far too many are left on the sidelines.

In developing regions, many workers have been pushed into vulnerable employment. The ranks of the global unemployed have grown by 34 million, and another 215 million women and men have become working poor. For the first time in history, more than 1 billion people are going hungry worldwide.

A recovery is not meaningful if people only learn about it in the newspaper. Working women and men need to see it in their own lives and livelihoods.

Simply put: A real recovery must reach the real economy.

As we look ahead, what does accountability mean in practical terms for people?

First, we must be accountable on delivering quality jobs. The global jobs crisis is slowing the recovery as well as progress toward reducing poverty in developing countries. It is time to focus on human development and decent work, particularly common-sense investments in green jobs. Quite simply, economic recovery can’t be sustainable without job recovery.

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