Tuesday, 7 July 2009

G8 in Italy must prove its relevance

Caritas Internationalis and CIDSE say G8 countries meeting in Italy need to roll back years of broken promises if they’re to regain authority on their flagship issue of tackling poverty. Leaders of France, the United States, Britain, Germany, Italy, Canada, Japan, and Russia hold a make-or-break meeting 8-10 July in the Italian town of L’Aquila to prove the annual jamboree is not past its sell-by-date.

The summit comes in a critical year for international development. The global economic crisis threatens gains made in reducing poverty over the last ten years. As many as 100 million more people will remain poor or become poor as a result of the crisis. Negotiations on climate change are not making the progress needed to achieve an adequate deal to be signed in Copenhagen in December. Hopes are not high. G8 countries have backtracked on their aid pledges, particularly Italy and France, citing the crisis as an excuse. However, world military spending surged to a new high of $1.4 trillion in 2008 while $8.7 trillion of state financing was found to shore up banks

Caritas Internationalis Secretary-General Lesley Anne Knight said, “If the G8 is to have any credibility left after this summit, it must make up for the broken promises of the past. This means committing to a firm timetable for achieving its previously agreed aid targets. To be cutting aid budgets whilst pouring billions into a bankrupt banking system is like robbing the poor to feed the rich. The G8 has an opportunity this month to show real leadership in the fight against global poverty. If it fails, it will show itself to be irrelevant.”

CIDSE Secretary-General Bernd Nilles said, "G8 countries have so far failed to commit to the necessary cuts in greenhouse gasses to avoid dangerous climate change. They have also failed to commit to providing developing countries with the support they need to enable them to adapt to the impacts of climate change and to pursue sustainable development paths. They’re fiddling while Rome burns.”

The G8 is one of the few moments where leaders of the richest countries will meet in the run up to Copenhagen and should play a crucial role in unlocking stalled talks and securing a deal. The G8 must commit to a minimum of 40% cuts in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, based on 1990 levels. They must provide their fair share of financing for adaptation and mitigation in developing countries. Conservative estimates indicate $153bn of additional finance will be needed for mitigation and adaptation in developing countries by 2020.

Read CIDSE - Caritas Internationalis G8 recommendations >>> here.