When the leaders of the world's major economies meet in Cannes in France this Thursday and Friday (November 3rd and 4th) there's no doubt about what will be the main focus of attention.
The world economy is, of course, in a mess. The most recent crisis in the Eurozone, which the Europeans undoubtedly believed would be partly resolved before Thursday, is thrown into utter confusion again. The deal to solve the debt crisis was almost there until the Greeks announced that they would put the latest aid package (including a 50% debt write-off for Greece) to a referendum. Opinion polls in Greece have already suggested that most people don't support the deal!
I'm no economist but it doesn't take a genius to realise that the problems facing the many millions of poor people across the globe WON'T be high on the agenda in Cannes.
But I think they should be - well, if not HIGH on the agenda at least not forgotten!
While everyone is rightly concentrating on the needs and worries of the rich economies, there are those who are urging them not to forget the desperate needs of the those living in dire poverty.
At the moment I'm doing some PR for Micah Challenge International, a global coalition active in over 40 countries encouraging Christians to be committed to the poor, and hold governments accountable to the Millennium Development Goals. These were signed in the year 2000 when 189 countries also pledged to halve world poverty by the year 2015.
So although the state of the world economy will undoubtedly dominate discussion in Cannes at the end of this week, we can't afford to let up. If we are to really make a difference to the economic inequalities and poverty affecting the 90% of nations not represented at the G20 meeting, most of which are poor, then we can't afford to miss any opportunities to speak into the subject.
As I've learnt fairly recently, one significant factor in world poverty is corruption. In the PR we've been sending out to the media, the International Director of Micah Challenge Rev Joel Edwards is quoted as saying :
'Corruption at the higest level in some countries means that the very poor remain very poor, with resources going to a few people at the top, or to outside agencies who have bribed their way into contracts. And even when social or aid programmes are specifically designed to help the poor, funds are often diverted from front-line services because of bribery or inefficiency.'
It's a massive problem - just last week BBC reporter Fergal Keane reported on the effects of corruption in the food crisis/famine in Northern Kenya. As one anti-corruption campaigner in Kenya said, the drought they have is a corruption, governance drought. It's what has made a drought into a famine.
Micah Challenge is urging the G20 nations to think about ways corruption can be monitored and limited, and asking them to regulate more on tax havens, the existence of which also helps to divert money which could be spent on projects to help those barely surving in poverty. In addition, Micah are also reminding the 19 leading economies plus the EU (that's the '20' in G20) that last year at G20 Seoul in South Korea they recommitted to addressing corruption. A report is due this November. Some of us will be watching out for that!
If you want to find out more, please read the press release I've worked on with them - click here for that!
I know lots of people will be thinking and asking 'How can we consider the issue of global poverty, or think about digging deeper into our own pockets to give more to the poor when we're struggling ourselves?'
But as Amanda Jackson, Head of Advocay and Campaigns at Micah Challenge, told several BBC radio faith presenters in interviews last Sunday morning, it might not necessarily be about us giving more. Indeed, for some of us, although we're not anywhere as near as impoverished as those who struggle even to find enough to feed their children once a day, additional generosity might prove difficult at the moment.
But if the world's resources were more wisely distributed, and a trillion dollars was not lost to corruption every year, as estimated by the World Bank, there might be more than enough to go around.
"The point is that the impact of corruption cannot be measured in dollars and cents. It is the impact to the child which cannot be educated. It is the impact of the person whose life is in danger because the doctor would not treat him without a bribe. It is the impact of the road that is never built. It is the impact of the bridge that collapses.”
There's absolutely no need for so many millions of people to remain in abject poverty.
As Christians there's an imperative for us to ensure fairer economic models and model integrity. I, for one, am glad that Micah Challenge is here to remind us of our own duty, and to keep the leaders of the world on their toes.