Saturday, July 09, 2005

Results of G8 summit

As anyone who has read my blog for more than 2 days will know, the G8 summit and the effort to MakePovertyHistory have been a real focal point for my faith. Unfortunately the cowardly attacks here on Thursday overshadowed the summit and I think took some of the wind out of the sails for real progress. A quick review for our new readers...the G8 meeting Scotland had 2 major things on its agenda - Africa and Climate Change. Let's look at the results and where progress still needs to be done.

Objective #1 - More and Better Aid- The G8 has promised double the amount of aid for Africa in five years and substantially raise it for other poor countries. Additionally they promised to "provide 'as close as possible' universal access to treatment for HIV/Aids; tackle malaria, TB and polio; education." One of the point men for this push has been Bob Geldof, who declared the results of talks on aid a 10 out of 10.

Objective #2 - Drop the Debt- Although not new, the G8 has promised to write off the debts of at least 18 countries and open up the option to other countries if they qualify under better governance provisions. Sir Geldof rates this effort an 8 of 10.

Objective #3 - Fairer and Freer Trade- The G8 has promised to "establish a 'credible end date' for a trade agreement to eliminate export subsidies. Sir Geldof again proclaimed it a "serious and excellent result on trade". President Bush has been the biggest driver behind the dropping of agricultural subsidies. He has called for all of them to be gone worldwide by 2010. This is pretty ambitious, but give credit to him for shooting for the stars. The next real discussion of this will be in Hong Kong in December for the next round of WTO talks.

Climate Change

From the Arizona Daily Star -Despite intense international pressure and lobbying from environmentalists, Bush gave little ground on global warming. He acknowledged humans contribute to the problem, but continued to insist the science of climate change was inconclusive. The summit declaration set no emissions targets and made only a passing reference to the Kyoto treaty, which Bush refuses to support. Yet the Economist points out, "But as Alcoholics Anonymous will tell you, admitting you have a problem is the first step towards recovery."


African leaders are calling the summitt a breakthrough. Sir Geldof says this had been the most important summit there had ever been for Africa. Bono of U2 welcomed the deal: "The world spoke and the politicians listened." He praised Mr Bush for "moving so far so quickly", and pointed out he was taking the lead on Aids and malaria.

There is a lot more nuiance to this and I'm sure you'll be hearing about it from me in the next weeks and months. The committments to aid could be cut by the legislative assemblies in the G8 nations and the push toward dropping agricultural subsidies could die in the face of French farmers in the streets and American sugar beet producer letter writing, but overall I know that the action of MakePovertyHistory (and the ONE group in America) had a positive effect on the world. Most exciting is how involved (and how much positive press) the Church got. Now to keep this effort moving toward greater justice in our world.

Additional sidenotes
The G8 also agreed to train a further 20,000 African peacekeepers so African nations can police themselves. Also, the Palestinian Authority was awarded 3 billion dollars to help create democratic institutions. This is my only beef with the conference. They make African nations clean up their act before they recieve aid, but the PA is corrupt through and through and they get a $3,000,000,000 check?