WASHINGTON, UNITED STATES -- Next week, the heads of state of the Group of Eight (G8) countries will meet at an exclusive golf hideaway on Lough Erne in the southwest corner of Northern Ireland. As they discuss how to tackle global economic challenges, the humanitarian crisis in Syria, trade, taxes and other burning issues, we hope leaders of the world's most powerful nations will also consider how to improve conditions for those living in extreme poverty.
As a starting point, here are three steps G8 leaders could take if they are really serious about tackling poverty:
1. Ensure People Have Access to Nutritious Food
The G8 has built on growing momentum and progress in ensuring greater food security, which includes better nutrition for vulnerable populations. On June 8, at a pre-G8 conference in London, governments, civil society groups and private sector organizations signed a "Global Nutrition for Growth Compact." This agreement committed them to a goal of reducing stunting in 20 million children by 2020, saving the lives of 1.7 million children under the age of 5 and offering what are described as nutrition interventions for 500 million women and children. To reach these goals the compact commits to making nutrition a top political priority as well as the development of cross-cutting programs, integrating scientific knowledge and innovation into policy and practice, "improved transparency and mutual monitoring and accountability for results", and support for developing countries' national nutrition plans. While a commitment made by donors at the conference to spend more than $4 billion over five years is impressive, there need to be firmer benchmarks for measuring progress.
2. Set Clear Benchmarks for the G8 That Are Transparently Reported
To ensure that these and other commitments are met requires effective action plans and serious monitoring, something which has been lacking since the G8's inception. The UK government released the G8's annual accountability report earlier this month as part of the group's promise to be more accountable and transparent about its work. The Lough Erne G8 report was an improvement over previous reports, but G8 commitments still lack the kind of benchmarks we would like to see. By its own admission, the report acknowledged that "to facilitate monitoring, commitments need to be clear and transparent, with timescales identified to enable future reporting." We urge this position to be included in the G8 communiqué and for G8 leaders to take this recommendation fully on board.
3. Clamp Down on Corruption
G8 members must implement and enforce international anti-corruption conventions like the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) and the Organization for Economic Development and Cooperation's Anti-Bribery Convention (OECD Convention). In 2006, G8 leaders committed to ratifying UNCAC, but Germany and Japan still have still not ratified it and neither have they participated in the peer review process. Several G8 countries are also not enforcing their foreign bribery laws; Canada, France, and Japan need to increase their efforts in this regard.
An estimated $20-$40 billion is illegally removed from developing countries each year. These stolen assets are often hidden in developed country financial centers. G8 countries need to collect "beneficial ownership" information on corporations during their incorporation and make it available to law enforcement agencies. This would identify which person or group enjoys the benefits of ownership even when the title is in another name. They also need to increase enforcement of "Know Your Customer" (KYC) policies to prevent financial institutions from becoming safe havens for the proceeds of corruption. KYC guidelines include anti-corruption due diligence activities.
In this vein, we appeal to the G8 leaders to consider who their customers are as they discuss pressing global issues. Hundreds of millions of people, who don't have the luxury of enjoying lakeside views on a remote golfing location, will be counting on it.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post and the NGO alliance InterAction around the G8 summit being held in Northern Ireland, June 17-18. For the next eight days, we will be featuring one post from an NGO based in each of the G8 countries -- this piece is from the United States -- and then one blog from the vantage point of the developing world. To see all the posts in the series, click here. For more information on InterAction, click here. And follow the conversation on Twitter with hashtag #DearG8.