G8 outcome disappoints poverty and ecology lobbies

G8 outcome disappoints poverty and ecology lobbies

By staff writers
9 Jul 2005

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G8 outcome disappoints poverty and ecology lobbies

-09/07/05

There has been conflicting reaction among development campaigners to the final communique from the G8 summit, issued on Friday.

Most, including Christian Aid, feel that the worldís wealthiest nations have stalled on justice for Africa and failed the climate change test. But they want to keep the pressure going.

At the Make Poverty History and Live8 press conference at the end of the G8 meeting in Gleneagles, rock star campaigners Bono and Bob Geldof clashed openly with development lobbyists.

ìThe people have roared but the G8 has whispered,î declared Kumi Naidoo, chair of the Global Call to Action against Poverty.

But Geldof talked of ìa great dayî, gave the summit ì10 out of 10 on aid, eight out of 10 on debtî and dubbed critics ìa disgrace.î

Meanwhile, the British-based international development agency Christian Aid spoke of ìa vastly disappointing resultî, War on Want of ìa betrayalî, Oxfam of an outcome that has ìfallen short of the hopes of millionsî, and Action Aid of Africaís people as having been ìshort-changedî.

African leaders also disagreed on the G8. Nigerian president and head of the 35-nation African Union, Olusegun Obasanjo, called it a great success. But the chief of Zambiaís justice and peace commission, Mulima Kufekisa, said that it was ìnot the historic breakthrough the global campaign was looking forî.

Examining the detail of the G8 deal it is easy to see why it can be seen as both a success and a failure. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and his international development secretary Hillary Benn took the former view, presenting to the media a communique that, on paper, provides substantially more aid and debt relief.

The G8 nations agreed to ëfull debt cancellationí for 18 countries, a 50 billion US dollars (£28.8bn) boost to aid, a ësignal on tradeí, and a pledge on universal access to anti-HIV drugs in Africa by 2010.

The European Union members additionally promised to reach a collective aid target of 0.56% of GDP by 2010, and 0.7% by 2015.

However, the USA specified no goals, and the president of Bread for the World, the Rev David Beckman, pointed out that President Bush will have to overcome opposition in both houses of Congress just to get through what was agreed at Gleneagles.

On climate change, the US blocked any measurable progress, but agreed to wording which for the first time acknowledged human activity as a significant contributor to the problem.

The president of the Royal Society, Lord May, said that the failure to tackle greenhouse gas emissions was ìa disappointing failureî, while development groups noted the tangible damage that climate change was causing to Africa.

There are also serious questions about what has been pledged by the G8 on development.

Regarding aid, only 10-20 billion US dollars is money not previously agreed, and not all of that may be deliverable. On debt, 40 African countries have been excluded and after the summit many poor nations will still be left spending more on debt repayments than they do on healthcare and education.

Meanwhile the AIDS treatment target has no resources attached to it. Action Aid says that it needs 18 billion US dollars new money in the next three years, adding ìwe also need fair trade rules that allow countries to buy and produce cheaper drugs. Without these changes the G8ís target is meaningless.î

A further offer to support between 20-75,000 trained peacekeepers for Africaís conflict zones also comes with no financial commitment.

The biggest disappointment, say campaigners, is in the crucial area of trade. Adriano Campolina Soares, head of Action Aidís Americas work, declared that ìThe G8 have completely failed to deliver trade justice. Instead, Bush and the EU have played a cynical game of bluff.î

He went on: ìThe USA has no intention of giving up or lowering the massive subsidies it gives its cotton farmers, which are forcing 10 million farmers in West Africa out of business. Poor countries should take this as a warning that they will have a hard fight in the up-coming trade talks at the World Trade Organisation.î

Nevertheless, anti-poverty activists inside and outside the churches say that more progress has been made as a result of mass campaigning than would otherwise have been possible.

They are making it clear that they intend to keep up the momentum to Make Poverty History.

There has been conflicting reaction among development campaigners to the final communique from the G8 summit, issued on Friday.

Most, including Christian Aid, feel that the world's wealthiest nations have stalled on justice for Africa and failed the climate change test. But they want to keep the pressure going.

At the Make Poverty History and Live8 press conference at the end of the G8 meeting in Gleneagles, rock star campaigners Bono and Bob Geldof clashed openly with development lobbyists.

'The people have roared but the G8 has whispered,' declared Kumi Naidoo, chair of the Global Call to Action against Poverty.

But Geldof talked of 'a great day', gave the summit '10 out of 10 on aid, eight out of 10 on debt' and dubbed critics 'a disgrace.'

Meanwhile, the British-based international development agency Christian Aid spoke of 'a vastly disappointing result', War on Want of 'a betrayal', Oxfam of an outcome that has 'fallen short of the hopes of millions', and Action Aid of Africa's people as having been 'short-changed'.

African leaders also disagreed on the G8. Nigerian president and head of the 35-nation African Union, Olusegun Obasanjo, called it a great success. But the chief of Zambia's justice and peace commission, Mulima Kufekisa, said that it was 'not the historic breakthrough the global campaign was looking for'.

Examining the detail of the G8 deal it is easy to see why it can be seen as both a success and a failure. UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and his international development secretary Hillary Benn took the former view, presenting to the media a communique that, on paper, provides substantially more aid and debt relief.

The G8 nations agreed to ëfull debt cancellation' for 18 countries, a 50 billion US dollars (£28.8bn) boost to aid, a ësignal on trade', and a pledge on universal access to anti-HIV drugs in Africa by 2010.

The European Union members additionally promised to reach a collective aid target of 0.56% of GDP by 2010, and 0.7% by 2015.

However, the USA specified no goals, and the president of Bread for the World, the Rev David Beckman, pointed out that President Bush will have to overcome opposition in both houses of Congress just to get through what was agreed at Gleneagles.

On climate change, the US blocked any measurable progress, but agreed to wording which for the first time acknowledged human activity as a significant contributor to the problem.

The president of the Royal Society, Lord May, said that the failure to tackle greenhouse gas emissions was 'a disappointing failure', while development groups noted the tangible damage that climate change was causing to Africa.

There are also serious questions about what has been pledged by the G8 on development.

Regarding aid, only 10-20 billion US dollars is money not previously agreed, and not all of that may be deliverable. On debt, 40 African countries have been excluded and after the summit many poor nations will still be left spending more on debt repayments than they do on healthcare and education.

Meanwhile the AIDS treatment target has no resources attached to it. Action Aid says that it needs 18 billion US dollars new money in the next three years, adding 'we also need fair trade rules that allow countries to buy and produce cheaper drugs. Without these changes the G8's target is meaningless.'

A further offer to support between 20-75,000 trained peacekeepers for Africa's conflict zones also comes with no financial commitment.

The biggest disappointment, say campaigners, is in the crucial area of trade. Adriano Campolina Soares, head of Action Aid's Americas work, declared that 'The G8 have completely failed to deliver trade justice. Instead, Bush and the EU have played a cynical game of bluff.'

He went on: 'The USA has no intention of giving up or lowering the massive subsidies it gives its cotton farmers, which are forcing 10 million farmers in West Africa out of business. Poor countries should take this as a warning that they will have a hard fight in the up-coming trade talks at the World Trade Organisation.'

Nevertheless, anti-poverty activists inside and outside the churches say that more progress has been made as a result of mass campaigning than would otherwise have been possible.

They are making it clear that they intend to keep up the momentum to Make Poverty History.

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