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Archbishop contributes to IPPR G20 publication

Wednesday 1st April 2009

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams has contributed to '20 on the G20' - a pamphlet published by the Institute for Public Policy Research (ippr).

The pamphlet seeks to advise the G20 on ways to limit the effects of the recession and restore stability to the financial system by putting the global economy back on course for sustainable and balanced growth.

The Archbishop's contribution:

An ethical economic policy involves factoring in to our thoughts about moneymaking two fundamental things. The first is that we have to recognise that we exist in a world of materially limited resource – which means that environmental exhaustion or degradation has to be taken into account in any assessment of the cost of projects or transactions. The second is that we need to move away from the superstition that some kinds of transaction are practically risk-free. Both financial and environmental irresponsibility reflect the same underlying illusions. Both generate poverty and displace risk on to the shoulders of those least able to bear it. So in considering what policy initiatives the G20 governments might be looking at, I'd want to ask: what international protocols are needed to guarantee a convergent sense of how environmental cost is to be reckoned? I suspect that getting this right would in itself introduce into the language of economics a sense that it couldn't be only about the mechanics of generating money and might keep other issues in perspective. We have to understand that, in a world of scarce resources, environmental exhaustion immediately drives the poorest further into the spiral of poverty and ultimately impoverishes us all; and no sophisticated financial products can finally offset cost on this scale. The G20 should commit to doing everything in their power to press for an agreement on climate change at the UN conference in Copenhagen later this year.

The pamphlet, which includes contributions from other high profile thinkers can be downloaded here:

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