Looking back at this G8: the big promise remains just a promise

It’s past 3 pm on the final day of the Summit and I’ve just started realizing that it’s over… after almost 2 years of working, sweating, worrying about the G8 there’s nothing more I can do to squeeze out positive results out of this summit for the world’s poor. What I see instead is yet another series of big announcements, good intentions and no action.

The only concrete results have that the G8 now recommends to keep global warming below the ceiling of 2° degrees Celsius and that there seems to be new money on food and agriculture. ‘Seems’ because we still don’t know how much money of the $20 billion pledged is actually new. It might be just another way of re packaging old money pledged in the past. Meanwhile, though, the number of people who go hungry every day on this planet has gone up to 1 billion…

As an Italian, I wish I could say that I’m proud of how Italy held its G8 presidency, but the reality is that I feel very disappointed. President Berlusconi is the senior leader and chair of the G8 and this is his third summit. He was the one to sign a solemn commitment at the G8 in Gleneagles to give an extra $ 50 billion to poor countries, half of which to Africa, by next year. Several times in the last few months he’s said that he intends to keep his word. He’s said it to Geldof and to other NGOs like Oxfam only a few days ago….

We’ve heard it from his government and from the Italian Minister of Foreign Affairs too. And yet we haven’t heard a word about how he’s going to make this promise come true. 12 months away from the deadline, we still need to find $23 billion to feed the hungry, to send 80 million more children to school and to save one mother a minute from sure death when she gives birth. Berlusconi only announced that Italy would pay its annual fee to the Global Fund and invest in new ways to deliver aid… not a great way to lead by example. The other G8 countries have quickly adapted to the situation and have carefully avoided raising the subject.

 

 

On a positive note, I am amazed at the hard work and determination of the Oxfam team. We’ve been working almost around the clock to push for a last-minute announcement on aid, climate change or food; we read through the documents at light speed to analyze the tiniest change of tone; we pushed journalists to ask tough questions; we alerted them to the fact that devil is in the detail, we confronted them.We also skipped a meal or two in the meantime...

We may have not got what we were hoping for, but we sure did our best! And we’re not going to let go after this. The G20 is just around the corner, then the Copenhagen summit on climate change, and then the next G8 in Canada. We’re going to get there, no matter how long it will take!

 

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