BRISBANE, Australia – A coalition of rights groups wants G-20 leaders to take action to improve the lives of the most vulnerable in society, reduce inequality and address climate change.
The Civil Society 20 group, or C-20, says the G-20 summit this weekend in Brisbane, Australia will be judged on fairness.
To that end, it wants the summit of leaders from the world's 20 largest economies to match a commitment to boost GDP by an extra $2 trillion over five years with a plan to ensure that the poorest 20 percent of households benefit most.
The problems of inequitable economic growth have often been submerged by other items on the G-20 agenda. But the inclusion of the word "inequality" in the communique from the last leaders' summit held in St. Petersburg, Russia in September 2013 was seen by some as a breakthrough.
G-20 governments have increasingly recognized that inequality is an economic issue as well as a social and moral issue, but some activists fear that addressing inequality has lost momentum under Australia as this year's G-20 host.
The World Bank and International Monetary Fund both say living standards suffer when a minority is capturing an increasing share of wealth.
C-20 Chairman Tim Costello says his group, which was set up for community organizations to engage with G-20 governments, is looking for an outcome on Sunday that takes measurable action to reduce inequality and address climate change.
Costello says that reducing inequality in Australia conflicts with Prime Minister Tony Abbott's domestic austerity policies that include reducing unemployment benefits for young Australians.
C-20 calculates that if most of the $2 trillion increase in GDP flowed to the poorest 20 percent of G-20 households, 1 billion people would be lifted out of poverty.