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Last Updated: Monday, 16 February, 2004, 16:38 GMT
Brown's poverty plan well-received
By Ben Richardson
BBC News Online business reporter at the Treasury

Man sleeping on ground in India
More than 1 billion people live on less than $1 a day
The mood over lunch was optimistic and upbeat at the UK Treasury's conference on globalization and world poverty.

As they munched dishes of fragrant rice and plates of Italian gnocchi, delegates voiced support for UK Chancellor Gordon Brown's call to arms.

He was right, they said, to demand a greater effort to close the gap between the world's rich and poor.

The September 11 terrorist attacks had switched the focus of the international community to fighting terrorism, just at the time when governments had vowed to take major steps to improve access to education and cut poverty and sickness.

As a result, Mr Brown said targets set in 2000 were not going to be met next year and, more worryingly, would not be met in the next 100 years unless more money and international good will was found.

Back on track

Looking around the conference room, there was ample evidence of the cooperation that the morning's speakers had all called for.

Too often we have set goals, reset them and recalibrated them again so that all we end up doing is mitigating the extent to which we have failed
Gordon Brown
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer

Hindu-leaders mingled with rabbis, Anglican archbishops rubbed shoulders with embassy officials and charity workers talked meaningfully with merchant bankers.

The sombre suits of politicians and business people were offset by the colour of saris and the street cool of rock stars such as Bono.

The relaxed atmosphere, they said, allowed them to talk to people they normally would not have access to and broach all manner of subjects.

Top of the agenda for many was getting rid of the vast agricultural subsidies that gave farmers in the developed world an unfair advantage.

Can-do

Not that there was agreement on every point.

While lauding the Chancellor for his passion and drive, some questioned the way in which extra aid would be used and the requirements that would have to be met by some of the world's poorest countries.

But the difference of opinions were not schisms, and many delegates said they looked forward to working in a new can-do environment.




SEE ALSO:
Brown calls for anti-poverty war
16 Feb 04  |  Business
World 'going too slow on poverty'
15 Jan 04  |  Science/Nature
ILO queries globalisation myths
28 Nov 03  |  Business


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