Global wealth is increasingly being concentrated in the hands of a small wealthy elite. These wealthy individuals have generated and sustained their vast riches through their interests and activities in a few important economic sectors, including finance and pharmaceuticals/healthcare. Companies from these sectors spend millions of dollars every year on lobbying to create a policy environment that protects and enhances their interests further.
On 12 January 2010, a massive earthquake hit Haiti’s capital Port-au-Prince, killing 220,000 people, injuring 300,000 and severely damaging great swaths of the city. While enormous challenges remain as the country continues its recovery, Oxfam is committed to helping Haitians and their government to build a stronger, more resilient nation.
The 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami was a pivotal moment for the humanitarian sector; many lessons were learned and the humanitarian system was strengthened as a result. However, ten years on, significant challenges remain.
Using the case of the tsunami – a rare example of a well-funded humanitarian emergency – this report looks at key lessons from the response and examines why some emergencies receive rapid, generous funding while others remain virtually ignored by the international community.
Climate finance is fundamental to a fair and effective global climate agreement. Too few countries have delivered on their obligations. As a result the world’s poorest people have not benefitted from the necessary investment, and climate finance has been a major obstacle to achieving a global climate change agreement.
Economic inequality has reached extreme levels. From Ghana to Germany, Italy to Indonesia, the gap between rich and poor is widening. In 2013, seven out of 10 people lived in countries where economic inequality was worse than 30 years ago, and in 2014 Oxfam calculated that just 85 people owned as much wealth as the poorest half of humanity.
Climate change is already making people hungry, and the use of fossil fuels is largely to blame, representing the single biggest source of greenhouse gas emissions globally. On current trends, the world will be 4–6ºC hotter by the end of the century, exceeding 2ºC within the lifetimes of most people reading this report. This could put up to 400 million people in some of the poorest countries at risk of severe food and water shortages by the middle of the century. This paper shows how, despite some steps in the right direction to tackle climate change, a "toxic triangle" of political inertia, financial short-termism and vested fossil fuel interests is blocking the transition that is needed.
Ban Ki-moon Summit at risk of being another missed opportunity to stop climate change making more people hungry
Since global leaders last met to discuss climate change five years ago, climate-related disasters have cost the world almost half a trillion dollars. More than 650 million people have been affected and more than 112,000 lives have been lost. Climate change is also making more people hungry. The September 23, 2014 UN Climate Summit reflects inertia in tackling climate change rather than reversing it. The Summit must be a wake-up call for government leaders and the private sector.
In this media brief, The Summit that Snoozed? Oxfam analyses the commitments being brought by government and corporate sector leaders to the Climate Summit and reveals that they fall short of what is urgently needed.
Oxfam is calling on governments to:
- Re-commit to the 2C goal, and agree new targets to phase-out fossil fuel emissions entirely by 2050
- Increase their climate finance pledges to meet the $100bn per year by 2020 commitment, and capitalise the Green Climate Fund with at least $15bn in grant-based funds over its first three years
- Agree specific, time-bound, measurable actions in line with their responsibility for causing emissions and capacity to pay to reduce them before 2020, to keep open the chance of limiting warming to below 2C
- Submit ambitious initial pledges for the Paris UN climate conference by Spring 2015, in line with their responsibility for causing emissions and capacity to pay, and prepare to subsequently raise them as needed as part of a fair collective global effort
and the private sector to:
- Put their own houses in order by delivering faster and further near-term reductions in absolute emissions consistent with climate science, and establish goals to phase-out fossil fuel emissions entirely from their operations
- Increase their calls for strong government regulation and international agreements, including related to energy efficiency, investment in renewable energy, cutting fossil fuel subsidies, and increasing flows of climate finance for adaptation.
The number of people killed, displaced or in desperate need of assistance as a result of the conflict in Syria continues to rise. A staggering 190,000 people have been killed and 6.5 million displaced inside Syria. And with 3 million refugees, it is now one of the biggest refugee crises since the end of the Second World War. The crisis is posing a serious risk to the security and stability of neighbouring countries and has contributed to the destabilisation of Iraq.
The sheer scale of this crisis demands specific and increased commitments from members of the international community to help alleviate the suffering: to fully fund the aid response, to offer refugees resettlement, and to halt the transfer of arms and ammunition. This briefing shows that the international community is falling far short in each of these areas.
The most recent escalation of violence in Gaza and southern Israel has come at terrible human cost. More than 1,500 civilians in Gaza, and six in Israel, have been killed. Over 100,000 Palestinians have been left homeless and vital civilian infrastructure worth billions of dollars has been destroyed in Gaza. The recent ceasefire announcement is certainly a welcome one, but is only the first step on a long road toward lasting peace.
Unless long-term solutions are found to ensure economic growth and sustainable development in Gaza, frequent military escalations will only continue, increasing insecurity for Israelis and Palestinians alike. The Israeli government’s implementation of a policy of separation – politically and physically isolating Gaza from the West Bank – has resulted in the fragmentation of the Occupied Palestinian Territory (OPT) and is a major obstacle to the chances of lasting peace.
The conflict between Palestinians and Israelis requires a long-term political solution that begins with a lasting ceasefire, continues with the end of the blockade of Gaza, and ends with a negotiated peace based on international law.
Across G20 countries and beyond, women are paid less than men, do most of the unpaid labour, are over-represented in part-time work, and are discriminated against in the household, in markets and in institutions. In 2012 in the Los Cabos Declaration, G20 leaders committed to tackling the barriers to women’s full economic and social participation and to expanding opportun ities for women in their countries. Oxfam supports this commitment, and calls on the G20 to go further and assess its agenda and actions on women’s rights and gender equality.
During the Australian presidency, the G20 has the chance to make good its promises for truly inclusive growth – working to make women more resilient to economic crisis through gender-sensitive economic growth and gender-equal employment policies.