Monday, June 11, 2007

Summit results III: Africa – Great disappointment and hypocrisy of the summit

It is really no surprise that the German government wants to sell the Heiligendamm summit as a great success. However it was a great disappointment as far as the Africa resolutions were concerned. After all the noise made about Africa, both prefatory and parallel to the topic, one might have expected more than the vague reiteration of the Gleneagles promises and the nebulous announcement that up to US$60bn might be donated for the struggle against HIV/ AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis at some as yet unspecified time.

Many NGOs – this time even the rock stars, in contrast to Gleneagles – are now outraged. However, the Heiligendamm summit merely continued an old tradition of dealing with Africa and development aid – issuing vague declarations of intent – an essential attribute of the G8 from the very beginning.

While there are some in the media who join the official chorus of summit success, the more serious elements point out the damage that the G8 Africa policies cause. Whereas their Africa Declaration preaches good governance more than ever before, the G8 do not give the slightest care to fulfilling their own commitments. The so-called Africa Outreach, i.e. invitations to a side table extended to some of Africa’s leading politicians, prevailed as the apex of sanctimony and hypocrisy this year. It was in this context that the G8 received the new Nigerian president Umara Yar’Adua. He had just attained power through election fraud as confirmed by EU observers. After not one important head of state attended his inauguration, he was now able to appear in Heiligendamm as a representative of the “New Africa”. In the print edition of yesterday’s Financial Times, two great corporations praised this breakthrough: “Nigeria’s New President arrives. G8 Summit: Ready for Business“. Good business is always preferred to good governance.

Summit results II: Heiligendamm process – Small step but no substitute for global governance reform

The Heiligendamm process, for which the German government received the approval of it G8 partners — is a small step, but certainly no substitute for a democratic reform of the global governance system. Furthermore according to the world economic declaration, the G8 are to maintain a „new partnership“, a „new form of detailed cooperation“ and above all a “new form of topic-driven dialogue” in the next two years with the so-called Outreach 5 countries (O5), China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico. The German government proposed the OECD as platform – limited to the next two years. The OECD was originally greeted with scepticism, then finally accepted, once it was assured that it only pertained to “technical facilities”.

The topics of this Heiligendamm process are exclusively those that interest the North, resp. the G8: innovation and patent protection, freedom of investment, common responsibility for Africa (this conceals the intention of dragging the O5 into the OECD as donors) and finally the issue of who will contribute how much to reduction of CO2 emissions. Just before Heiligendamm, the O5 countries issued various signals that they wanted to improve co-ordination among each other in terms of stronger South-South co-ordination. However, it is currently unclear what the specific interest of the O5 in the new co-operation with the G8 is. Nonetheless it is remarkable that the joint declaration by the G8 Presidency and O5 is far more moderated in tone than the G8 original.

For the German government, the O5 approach was the “compromise” between the status quo and the earnest attempt to expand the G8 or even to replace it with a truly representative body. However, not only the „G8 partners“ — even the chancellor herself — wanted to maintain the anachronistic G8 construction. The arguments given miss the point (either that it is just a “small intimate circle” or that the G8 represents a “community of values" worth preserving). This is just a crutch that has been employed; a placebo that is miles from the global governance reform that belongs on the agenda.

G8 results I: The Summit Declaration ‘Growth and Responsibility in the World Economy’

Behind the screens of chatter about a “climate policy breakthrough” the German government published the summit declaration Growth and Responsibility in the World Economy. This corresponds largely to the prognoses published in this weblog and at since the first draft trickled through (>>> German G8 Politics on the Eve of Heiligendamm). Along with the chapter about energy security and climate protection, the declaration holds firmly to the hard economic interests of the G8 pursued against the rest of the world — growth and stability, investment freedom and conditions, promotion and protection of innovation and intellectual property.

Although the German government originally announced the actual focus of the summit to be new elements in world economic growth, even with a magnifying glass one won’t find anything new in this declaration. The G8 celebrate global economic growth and praise themselves for their respective economic policies. Whereas the G8 promise “to keep going”, the emerging countries are encouraged by every means to exert more exchange rate flexibility, reduce their foreign reserves or reduce imbalances. In the matter of financial market stability and in particular with regard to transparency and control of hedge funds, the German government was unable to impose more than had already been announced in the finance minister’s communiqué.

However, the declaration devoted even more attention to the G8 interest in “investment freedom” and increased promotion and protection of innovation and patents. The former also pertains to the “social dimension of globalisation”. Here, for the first time in a G8 document, some things are emphasised — from the OECD guidelines for multinational corporations to the Decent Work Agenda of the International Labour Organization (ILO) — but only just emphasised. There are no new practical initiatives for implementation. For the second point, the innovation issue, the G8 have adjourned to a new dialogue with the major emerging countries, also because meanwhile it has become clear that the latter are no longer prepared to accept the Northern agenda whereby more patent protection is supposed to mean more development. Here the G8 will need patience and commitment, like in other areas, even if after the document the “Heiligendamm Process” is only scheduled for the next two years.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Social Watch’s Basic Capability Index: G8 fails to meet responsibility for MDGs

According to the recent Basic Capabilities Index (BCI) published by Social Watch, at the current rate of progress universal access to a minimum set of social services will only be achieved in 2108 in Sub-Saharan Africa, a delay of almost a century with regards to the target date of 2015 set by the so-called Millennium Development Goals. Rich countries committed themselves to do their part in creating an enabling global economy and assisting poor countries for it to happen.

Unless the pace of progress is substantially speeded up, by 2015 the average level of social development in most of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa will only have advanced to a very low level. All other regions of the world, except for Europe and North America, will still be far from achieving an acceptable level of social development.

Social Watch, an international network of more than 400 civil society organizations, launched this index on poverty and deprivation in coincidence with the G8 summit, which will bring together the leaders of the world’s most powerful countries in Heiligendamm from 6 to 8 June. “The world’s wealthiest countries have made very little progress in fulfilling their side of the agreement and allowing a majority of the world population to work their way out of poverty,” stressed Social Watch co-ordinator Roberto Bissio.

Most developing countries, including the poorest among them, continue to receive minimal foreign aid while struggling under the burden of foreign debt and confronting unfair trade conditions that keep them from rising out of poverty. In 2002, the developed nations reaffirmed the pledge they had made in 1970 to allocate 0.7% of their national income to official development aid (ODA). Nevertheless, current ODA spending falls far below this level. None of the G8 countries has fulfilled this commitment to date. The United States devotes 0.17% of its income to aiding developing countries, while Italy allocates 0.2%, Japan 0.25%, Canada 0.3%, Germany 0.36%, France 0.47% and the United Kingdom 0.52%.

The Social Watch figures show that half of the world’s countries score within the low, very low or critical categories of the basic capabilities index, and are unable to ensure coverage of minimum essential needs (health, education an others) for most of their population. The BCI is used to evaluate and compare situations of poverty at a national, provincial and local level, based on three basic indicators: the percentage of children who successfully complete the fifth grade, child mortality under five years of age, and the percentage of births attended by skilled health personnel.

G8 Africa policy: “Life or death lottery” for millions

The prospect of a positive outcome for millions of poor people around the world hung in the balance as it emerged that the G8 is in turmoil over negotiations on Africa. The German government is making eleventh hour amendments to the final summit text in a bid to secure agreement. This comes amid reports that several G8 countries, including Italy and Canada, are blocking progress on Africa negotiations in Heiligendamm. “With key countries playing spoilers on aid and HIV, the G8’s credibility is on the line. Unless there’s serious work done on the G8’s Africa Declaration, the summit will be over for the world’s poorest region before it’s even begun’, said Patrick Watt, ActionAid UK Policy Co-ordinator.

* HIV and Aids: The promise of universal access to HIV treatment made in 2005 remains in a critical condition, with some countries seeking to remove the few hard numbers on financing from the text.
* Aid: With the G8 falling short of their aid commitments by $8bn in 2006 alone, the G8 risks scuppering pledges on HIV, health and education. Germany and Italy urgently need to step up to the plate to get the G8 on track to double aid to Africa by 2010.

So far there is no agreement among G8 participants on three central aspects of the final communiqué – climate change, HIV/Aids and development aid.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Guest Comment: The dilemma of G-8 protest

By Jens Martens

One winner of the G-8 summit is already certain, before the helicopters of heads of state and government have landed: It is the movement of globalisation critics in Germany. In advance of the summit it reached unprecedented public mobilisation and media exposure. The hopes of attac activists that the G-8 summit would be a kind of “Niehans' therapy” for the globalisation critics have been fulfilled.

The other side of the coin: By virtue of their massive protest actions, the civil society groups gave the heads of state and government media attention that their press offices and media consultants could never have reached alone. When referring to the G-8 — even if critically — they give credence to the institutional standing of this exclusive club instead of delegitimising it. When they address volumes of demands such as „save the climate“, „cancel the debts“, „solve the problems of Africa“ to the G-8, then they reinforce the illusions of omnipotence and unintentionally help style seven men and a women as saviours, a role that neither can nor should play.

When the G-8 is so pushed to the centre of the globalisation debate, it is no wonder that even the demands for “democratisation” of the global governance system fixate on the G-8 as institution. However, the opening of the G-8 for a handful of regional powers (esp. the O5), repeatedly demanded, and photo opportunities with a few African heads of state do not make this “members only” club either more democratic or more representative. Meetings of the G8 sherpas and the German chancellor with hand-picked civil society representatives may raise the standing of the NGOs involved and convey to the public a greater readiness for discussion and openness, however they distract from the structural deficits in representativeness and transparency, more than overcoming these deficits.

Demanding that the G-8 be replaced by a new body where the South is assured equal representation and participation by civil society organisations is guaranteed is also superfluous. Such a body need not be invented: it is already there in the form of the ECOSOC, The UN Economic and Social Council which has been in existence for more than 60 years. Power politics has prevented this council from performing its duties. That is because the G-8 are a minority among its 54 members. (The Never-ending Story of ECOSOC Reform: L-27 as emerging alternative to G-8? >>> WDEV 5/Dec 2006). Hence it is no wonder thy have never seriously attempted to vitalise the council and equip it with authority. Only recently the governments in the UN General Assembly resolved to strengthen ECOSOC. Civil society organisations could remind governments of the resolutions when the council meets again. It convenes in Geneva four weeks after the Heiligendamm summit. Activism there is tedious and neither spectacular nor impressive for the media – but in the long-run perhaps "more permanent" than a mere colourful flash in the pan on the perimeter of Heiligendamm.

Jens Martens is co-publisher of WDEV and director of Global Policy Forum Europe in Bonn.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Signal before G8: Federal government announces increase in German development aid

As anticipated the German government announced before the G-8 summit was convened that it would significantly increase its development aid. As (nearly) all papers reported, development aid is to be increased by EUR 750 million each year until 2011. This is intended as fulfilment of its 2005 commitment to increase the German ODA quota from its current 0.36% to 0.51%. The federal government will finance this in part by means of so-called innovative financial instruments, e.g. auctioned CO2 emission rights Chancellor Merkel proposed. The latter is expected to generate EUR 350 million.

The announcements by Chancellor Merkel in Bild and by overseas development minister Wieczorek-Zeul to the Süddeutschen Zeitung are the first specific figures after a long series of generally similar declarations. To that extent it is the first substantive indication since the 2005 Gleneagles summit after it had appeared that the German government remained far behind on its promises. With the significant quantitative top-up of development aid, the need for qualitative improvement and reform becomes more obvious.

As praiseworthy as the German initiative certainly is, it is just as uncertain or even unlikely that the hoped for signal effect will occur and the other G-8 partners inspired to similar announcements at the Heiligendamm summit. Only this would really give the lie to the thesis of the "G-8's broken promises". It is clear that the new German ODA initiative does not diminish the other criticisms of German G-8 policy, primarily substantive in nature: unwillingness to accept reform of the summit structure, overemphasis on the private sector in Africa policy, The one-sided attitude toward innovation and investment protection of the North and the general habit of the G-8 to preach a lot but to do little to clean its own stables. For a critical analysis of the German G-8 policy from this perspective, see the recent article by Rainer Falk and Barbara Unmüßig (>>> German G8 Politics on the Eve of Heiligendamm).

Overture in Rostock: Two faces of a demonstration

(1) Gothenburg in Rostock
The procedure is familiar. A block of "autonomous anarchists" breaks away from the demonstration march and the ritual begins. Fire bombs and stones go flying, automobiles burn and plate glass windows shatter. What happened in Rostock yesterday has its historical parallels in the disturbances on the periphery of the 2001 EU summit in Gothenburg. It was just as little about content then as on Saturday. What was so surprising to everyone – both the police and the organizers of the large demonstration, was the large number of autonomous anarchists and their brutality. Even the fire brigade did not want to take chances while doing their job.

In the morning, the demonstration’s organizers, who wanted a large, loud, colourful peaceful demonstration, radically condemned the conduct of the autonomous anarchists. They also expressed their understanding for the police, who had largely complied with what had been agreed. On the other hand, the question remains whether there are no alternatives against the "criminals" (as the police call them) to the massive deployment of water cannon and tear gas under which even the peaceful demonstrators necessarily had to suffer.

(2) Problematic concept: “Choreography of Resistance”
Whether the concept christened “Choreography of Resistance” is really the last word is also doubtful. In any case it failed to the extent there was any hope of actually involving the entire spectrum of "the movement" in the protest. This hope has proven to be an illusion. It is truly naive if some now believe, they can "convince" the “autonomous anarchists” to refrain from attacks against the police.

Now a new and open discussion is necessary about how to deal with the “fringe” of the movement, resp. with those non-political forces, whose most important function consists in convergent interaction with the other side. After the events in Rostock, many tend again toward the view that it is impossible to bring everyone together. Rather they also see the responsibility of the movement in the exercising the strength to assert clear boundaries.

(3) Colourful carnival, but fewer attending than expected
Especially those who wanted a peaceful demonstration before the G-8 meeting —such as the supporters of the Jubilee movement recognisable through the numerous large, red balloons with the demand for cancellation of illegitimate debts – may see themselves robbed of part of the fruits. It was truly one of the most imaginative and colourful solidarity demonstrations in the past years. Had there not been the ritual riots on the edges and in central Rostock; that would have been the deepest impression too.

Then it would also not have been so noticeable that the total number of demonstrators - whether the 30,000, according to police estimates or up to 80,000, as the organisers estimated - remained significantly lower than announced. One can certainly not talk any longer about “unprecedented mobilisation” here. Perhaps many potential demonstrators were influenced by fear of violent outbreaks. But since the figure 100,000 seems to have been established everywhere, testifies to the media significance and harmony potential which the movement criticising globalisation has meanwhile reached. Greater circumspection and intensive substantive efforts are needed to maintain this even after the Rostock events.

(4) Rostock and Genoa versus Gleneagles?
The interpretation and artificial contrast of different protest cultures — such as „here the militant spirit of Genoa and Rostock and there the tame demonstrators of Gleneagles and the rock stars who swallow the G-8 propaganda" — as espoused by Walden Bello from Focus on the Global South at the closing meeting, is not very helpful. On the contrary: one can only hope that the actions of the coming week, above all the Alternative Summit from 5-7 June and the large concert of the action Your Voice against Poverty on 7 June will correct the disappointing overture.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Merkel’s moment – G8 leaders face credibility test on Africa

With a week to go before the G8, ActionAid launches a new report, Merkel’s moment – The G8’s credibility test on Africa, questioning what they will really deliver for Africa. “In 2005 there was a massive public mandate world-wide calling for an end to poverty but the G8 are just defrauding the public and failing Africa,” said Collins Magalasi, Head of ActionAid’s South Africa Country Programme. Aid to Africa fell short by $8bn in 2006 despite the G8’s pledge at Gleneagles to increase aid. Germany, France and Italy were each responsible for around $2bn of that shortfall. It’s time for them to back their promises with money.

“The G8’s credibility is now in tatters. This is Merkel’s moment to galvanize the G8 and save the lives of 25 million Africans now living with HIV,” said Aditi Sharma, Head of ActionAid’s HIV AIDS campaign. To deliver on 2005 commitments, ActionAid urges G8 leaders to agree on:
* a funding plan to reverse the HIV and AIDS pandemic to close the estimated $8-10 billion gap a year together with a recognition that violence against women and girls is a key cause of the spread of HIV;
* annual targets to deliver on the 2005 promise of an extra $50 billion in aid per year by 2010.

In addition ActionAid is calling for:
* action to ensure that G8-based companies are held accountable for their activities overseas;
* action to cut G8 carbon emissions and next steps to agreement on a post-2012 international agreement ensuring that poor countries get the technology and resources they need to adapt.

Climate change: Stop harming and start helping, Oxfam tells G8 summit

G8 countries must act to keep global warming below 2° Celsius and pledge their share of $50bn to help poorest cope with impact. G8 countries owe around 80% of the $50bn or more needed each year by developing countries to adapt to the harmful effects of climate change, according to a new report published by Oxfam. Human-induced climate change is already causing harm to the world’s poorest people, who are the least responsible for emissions and least able to adapt to climatic shocks. “Developing countries cannot be expected to foot the bill for the impact of rich countries’ emissions,” said Celine Charveriat, head of Oxfam’s Make Trade Fair campaign. “G8 countries face two obligations as they prepare for this year’s summit in Germany, to stop harming by cutting their emissions to keep global warming below 2° Celsius and to start helping poor countries to cope by paying their share of $50 billion per year in adaptation funds.”

Oxfam says the $50bn a year figure is a conservative estimate that will rise sharply if emissions are not cut drastically in order to keep global warming below 2° Celsius. It also says that the G8 must follow the lead of the Netherlands and ensure the money is over and above the UN agreed aid target of 0.7% of national income. The report, Adapting to Climate Change, estimates the share that each country should contribute towards financing adaptation. It ranks countries based on their responsibility for carbon emissions from 1992 (when virtually all of the world’s governments committed to fight climate change) up to 2003, and on their capability to pay, based on their position in the UN’s Human Development Index: United States, responsible for meeting nearly 44% of developing country adaptation costs; Japan, nearly 13%; Germany, more than 7%; UK, more than 5%; Italy, France, Canada, 4-5% each; Spain, Australia, Republic of Korea, 3% each.

“Justice demands that rich countries pay for the harm already being caused to those who are least responsible for the problem,” said Charveriat. “But it’s also crucial in building the trust between nations essential for the success of any truly global agreement to tackle climate change.”

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Guest Comment: Germany’s chance to overcome global economic apartheid

By Kumi Naidoo

When I was in Berlin last week something was playing on my mind. Wasn’t it here in 1884 that my continent Africa was carved up so randomly by European powers? At the Berlin Conference borders were drawn and communities split leaving irreversible fault lines throughout Africa. Was it to redress the errors of the past that I had been invited to join thirteen other civil society campaigners for a meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel?

The German leader’s invitation expressed a wish to hear our concerns on poverty relief and climate change in advance of next month’s G8 summit on the Baltic coast. As a representative of the world’s biggest anti-poverty campaign, The Global Call to Action Against Poverty (GCAP), I was there to put to her our demands for concrete outcomes and past promises to be honoured.

Two years ago, the G8 leaders met in Gleneagles in Scotland and renewed an old promise. They dusted down a commitment made back in the 70’s, to provide 0.7% of their GDP in development aid. The circle of eight made a commitment that, if met, would lead to millions of lives saved but to our disbelief they pushed the delivery date back. With a few exceptions, there has actually been a net decrease in aid from these countries since 2005. Citizens have shown time and time again through petitions, rallies, symbolic actions of solidarity, that they want this money given to the poor, yet their leaders respond tardily.

I put to the Chancellor that aid is not a panacea. Since the Marshall Plan to reconstruct war-torn Europe sixty years ago, we know that it works when properly managed and directed to the provision of essential services. It is their duty to ensure this. When we see how rapidly money is mobilised by these same governments when called up on to go to war then we, the people living in the poorest places on earth, cannot understand why a fraction of that money cannot be found now? The Chancellor appeared to nod her head in agreement.

My colleagues and I, called too for a better future for the poorest countries, a future in which neither aid nor debt relief would be necessary. I explained to Ms. Merkel that every day more and more African citizens are becoming aware of the unbalanced and unjust way world trade rules are set. They cannot believe European cows are subsidised to the tune of 2 Euros a day when half the people on the planet survive on less. They ask if this is some sort of global economic apartheid? If 6,000 white people were dying every day of HIV/Aids as is happening to the people of Africa, would they stand idly by? Given that what we are seeing in Africa and elsewhere in the developing world is a passive genocide or, if you like, a silent tsunami, I really do not know what to tell them.

Germany has an opportunity to change the course of history. It could be remembered not as the place where Africa’s woes began but where impoverished nations got the chance they needed to recover, once and for all. Just as Germany benefited from the Marshall plan, surely a global Marshall plan now makes sense. It would ensure future generations live in a world characterised by political, social, economic, gender and environmental justice. I left Ms. Merkel, I hope, still nodding her head in agreement.

Kumi Naidoo, South Africa, is a GCAP (Global Call to Action Against Poverty) representative and Secretary-General of CIVICUS (The World Alliance for Citizen Participation).

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Millions of lives at stake unless G8 acts on AIDS, warns ActionAid

A new report from Action Aid, Tackling political barriers to end AIDS, calls on governments to urgently deliver on their pledge to achieve universal access to HIV prevention, treatment and care by 2010. “In country after country, progress is staggeringly slow and with just three years to go to 2010, the world is in danger of missing the target that gave hope to the 40 million people living with HIV and AIDS,“ said Aditi Sharma, ActionAid’s campaign coordinator. One of the easiest ways to prevent the virus spreading is giving drugs to HIV positive pregnant women - to prevent mother to child transmission. Yet Nigeria provides drugs to less than 1% of such women while India fares little better with 2%.

This week, as part of the Global AIDS Week (20-26 May) activists are expressing their anger about the number of lives lost and calling on G8 leaders and governments to provide access to treatment and tackle the deadly intersection of violence against women and HIV. In 2001, African governments promised to invest 15% of their expenditure on public health systems but most are far from this, with only Botswana achieving this by 2005. Furthermore, the world’s richest countries are refusing to act to fill the $8-10 billion annual AIDS funding gap.

ActionAid is an international anti-poverty agency working in over 40 countries, taking sides with poor people to end poverty and injustice together. For information about the Global AIDS Week (20-26 May) visit:

Monday, May 21, 2007

Guest Comment: Day-to-day survival issues of farmers are absent from the negotiation table

By Wolfgang Sachs

G8 meetings almost routinely call for a development-friendly conclusion of the Doha Development Round at the World Trade Organization (WTO). However, the reform of agricultural trade rules at the center of negotiations do not bode well for the future of agriculture across the globe. Despite the critical importance of agriculture in global trade negotiations, it appears that neither the state nor the fate of global agriculture are of particular concern to trade diplomats. They rarely review the plight of peasants in India, the loss of potato varieties in the Andes, or the impact of global warming on rice yields in Vietnam. The day-to-day survival issues that loom heavily for farmers and their families are conspicuously absent from negotiation tables.

The spotlight is instead focused on issues such as import tariffs or export subsidies, access standards or safeguard mechanisms, most of them loaded with impenetrable complexities. This should come as no surprise, since trade policy treats agriculture as a business that produces commodities for sale against foreign currency. Negotiators use agricultural exports as a tool to boost their nation’s economic performance, but are strikingly unconcerned about the consequences of this strategy for farmers and ecosystems.

This tunnel vision is the deeper reason why deregulated trade in agriculture aggravates the global poverty crisis, deepening the desperation in particular of small farmers. As farming becomes integrated into global market relations, the ranks of the poor, marginalised and dispossessed increase around the world. Equally, free trade in agriculture aggravates the crisis of the biosphere, undermining local and global ecosystems. Unregulated long-distance trade of large volumes of crops and meat, apart from special cases like cocoa and coffee, tends to give a large boost to industrial farming in both Southern and Northern countries. But this creates a host of consequences: Industrial agriculture is a high consumer of land, water and fuel as well as a high emitter of chemicals and nitrates.

Dr. Wolfgang Sachs works with the Wuppertal Institute for Climate, Environment, Energy. Among the numerous publications he co-authored is “Slow Trade - Sound Farming. A Multilateral Framework for Sustainable Global Markets in Agriculture“ (Misereor/Heinrich Böll Foundation: Aachen-Berlin 2007;

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

G8 countries seriously off track in meeting promises, says DATA Report 2007 / Call for emergency session at Heiligendamm

Africa advocacy organisation, DATA (Debt, AIDS, Trade, Africa), today released a report that shows aid is working in poor countries, but that most G8 nations are seriously off track in delivering on the historic promises to Africa they made in 2005. The DATA Report 2007 finds that the G8 increased aid by less than half the sum needed from 2004-2006 to meet their 2010 goals. Estimates of forthcoming aid flows in 2007 show that the G8 are planning to do only about one third of what's needed to get back on track. “The G8 are sleep walking into a crisis of credibility. I know the DATA report will feel like a cold shower, but I hope it will wake us all up. These are cold facts, but I know they will stir up some very hot arguments. These statistics are not just numbers on a page, they are people begging for their lives, for two pills a day, a mother begging to immunize her children, a child begging not to become a mother at age 12,” said Bono, U2 lead singer and DATA co-founder.

The DATA Report 2007 demonstrates that aid is effective in poor countries and improving the lives of millions of people. Because of assistance to global health programs, every day 1,450 Africans living with AIDS are put on life-saving medications. Due in part to debt cancellation and increased aid, 20 million more African children are going to school for the first time in their lives. This good news, however, only makes the bad news worse. The G8 are not increasing aid substantially enough to meet their commitments and are in serious danger of breaking these historic promises. President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf of Liberia, Africa’s first woman president, says in the foreword to the report, “Even as we have tangible proof that aid is working and that our governments are becoming more accountable, the G8’s commitment to Africa seems to be faltering.”

Today in Berlin, Bono, Bob Geldof, German musician and activist Herbert Grönemeyer and former Nigerian Finance Minister Dr. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala called for an emergency session on the G8’s Africa commitments at the Summit in Heilegendamm next month. – DATA also looked at predicted funding for Africa for 2008. DATA’s analysis shows that next year the G8 are set to increase by approximately $1.7-2.3bn – about a third of the $6.2bn dollar increase they need to be on track to keep their commitments.

Earlier this month, other reports such as Oxfam's The World Is Still Waiting and CONCORD's Hold the Applause! came to similar conclusions.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Guest Comment: G8 – surprise us ... and remember your promises!

By Eveline Herfkens

As the G8 meets again, what can we expect? Well, for those working towards the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals by 2015, I would say not much. At Gleneagles, G8 leaders promised a substantial increase in development assistance, and a doubling of aid to sub-Saharan Africa by 2010. But, two years down the line, total aid is decreasing again and a massive share of aid delivered in the past two years has actually been debt relief. Rather than taking a frank look at the facts and renewing their resolve to actually meet their promises on aid, G8 leaders at Heiligendamm are set to announce a couple of sectoral initiatives. But, these are likely to be little more than a damaging diversion. A diversion because they are small and are unlikely to be additional to existing promises. And damaging because sectoral initiatives often undermine efforts to improve the impact and effectiveness of aid.

We need to radically change the design and implementation of all of our aid by implementing the Paris Declaration on aid effectiveness, as promised at Gleneagles. Evidence from the ground reminds us that there is an inherent tension between genuine local priority setting in developing countries, and the kind of single-issue funds and programmes that the G8 leaders are likely to announce. What is more, such small sectoral initiatives just add to the already increasing proliferation of aid programmes, donors and procedures, when we know this takes a devastating toll on the capacity of developing countries to manage their own development process.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, G8 countries need to take the lead in reviving the Doha round of trade negotiations and in ensuring a development-friendly outcome. It is only G8 countries, including G8 members of the European Union, that can ensure progress on this issue. And they promised at Gleneagles to do so.

So the scorecard for the Gleneagles commitments is pretty dismal reading. You might wonder how this can be, when the commitments were made with such fanfare. Well, for a start, there has been no willingness on the part of the G8 countries to monitor their own progress. Two years after the Gleneagles summit, Heiligendamm would be the ideal opportunity to do this, but there is no appetite for such a stock-take. Perhaps because leaders know that they aren’t delivering.

However, it is not too late. G8 leaders still have the opportunity to show great leadership. But, we don’t need new initiatives. All we need is for leaders to deliver what they already promised … at Gleneagles in 2005. A promise is a promise, and a promise to the world’s poor should not be taken lightly: their very future depends upon it.

Eveline Herfkens in the Executive Coordinator for the United Nations Millennium Development Goals Campaign. She is the former Dutch Minister for International Development. The full statement has been published at:

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

G8 Labour Summit: Social rules on investment and trade, and effective regulation of hedge funds needed

At a Labour Summit taking place on 6 and 7 May, leaders from the G8 trade unions and Global Unions organisations have been calling on the G8 Labour Ministers and German Chancellor Angela Merkel to put the need for social rules around global trade and capital flows at the centre of their discussions. The union delegation, led by OECD-TUAC (Trade Union Advisory Council) and AFL-CIO President John Sweeney and Michael Sommer, President of the German DGB, was taking part in the G8 Labour Ministers' meeting in Dresden on 6-7 May and also meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin. The unions renewed their call for the G8 to establish an international regulatory task force on private equity.

In a statement released ahead of the Summit, Global Unions called upon G8 Labour Ministers to act upon a series of policy issues to build a proper social dimension of globalisation. On employment, it called upon ministers to ensure active growth-orientated economic policy management, decent minimum wage floors and balanced labour market "activation policies". On social protection, Ministers should affirm the right to affordable universal social security systems and work to build strong and well functioning labour inspectorates. Concerning corporate social responsibility, they should work for the integration of core labour standards across all international institutions. The unions will also maintain pressure on the G8 countries to do more to tackle the HIV-AIDS pandemic.

The Global Unions also brought to light the alarming consequences of private equity and hedge funds who have in a short period become owners of significant swathes of the economy and of employment across G8 economies. Ministers should consider policy responses so that the expanding activity of private equity buy-out investment does not jeopardise long term responsible business conduct and workers’ rights to collective bargaining, information, consultation and representation within the firm.

On 1 and 2 June, the ITUC, together with the DGB and its partners in the Decent Work Campaign, will be holding a "Youth Action for Decent Work" Conference in Berlin. The Conference will bring together young people from trade unions, NGOs and political movements to discuss the challenges young people face in the world of work. The Conference will formulate policy and action proposals to achieve decent work for youth, which will be presented to the German Government as G8 host. A meeting of the ITUC Youth Committee immediately after the Conference will build on these proposals in the development of the ITUC's own policies and action plans.

Monday, May 07, 2007

MDGs off track: 17.5 million children have died waiting for change

A briefing on the progress of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) released by Save the Children, UK, reveals that all MDGs are off course and the majority of goals are unlikely to be met by 2015. Since the G8 conference at Gleneagles nearly two years ago, 17.5 million children have died waiting for change to come. Where progress has been made, it is not universal: sub-Saharan Africa lags far behind the rest of the world. Ninety per cent of all child deaths occur in only 42 countries, 39 of which are in sub-Saharan Africa.

The briefing, Off Track and Running Out of Time, examines how close the world is to achieving the MDGs as the halfway point approaches. It focuses on MDGs that affect children: MDG 1 (eradicate extreme poverty and hunger); MDG 2 (achieve universal primary education); MDG 4 (reduce mortality rates by two thirds among children under five); and MDG 8 (develop a global partnership for development). Save the Children is calling on G8 countries this year to back developing countries to help build healthcare services and end the injustice of children and their families facing unpayable bills to go to the doctor, and to dramatically reform aid to make it work for poor countries. Aid should be predictable and untied, and all aid must be targeted at the world's poorest children.

Matt Phillips, Head of Campaigns at Save the Children, says, "It's an outrage that all the optimism of the new Millennium has turned into so little progress for children. There are rays of hope like Zambia making healthcare free and the massive public mandate for action to make poverty history. But to turn this round we need a lot more urgency and concrete action from world leaders - especially Europe and the G8 - to tackle extreme poverty."

Friday, May 04, 2007

Pope supports church leaders’ engagement for the world’s poor in run-up to G8 summit

A group of prelates were received today by the pope as part of a catholic campaign to ensure that development remains high on the agenda of the G8 Summit in Germany this June. Pope Benedict XVI welcomed their engagement for the world’s poor and for social justice world-wide. The pope encouraged them to “continue campaigning for the welfare of all human beings all over the world”. Cardinal Rodriguez said, “The Pope urged the German Chancellor Merkel to put poverty at the heart of the 2007 G8 summit, and we welcome this initiative. We cannot accept that poor people perish every day because they lack shelter, basic medicines and safe drinking water. The world does have the means to eliminate poverty.”

Over 50.000 citizens across the world have supported the Make Aid Work campaign so far. Paul Chitnis, President of the catholic alliance CIDSE, said, “We do not only face global warming caused by climate change, we also face global warming caused by the growing anger of the dispossessed. G8 leaders have to be aware that our global situation needs urgent and adequate policy responses”. The delegation is part of the international campaign ‘Make Aid Work. The World Can’t Wait’, co-ordinated by CIDSE and Caritas Internationalis. The campaign calls on governments in rich and poor countries to ensure development aid makes a difference for the poor. Earlier this week, the delegation met UK Prime Minister Tony Blair, German President Horst Köhler and Chancellor Angela Merkel and Prime Minster Romano Prodi of Italy.

In a statement, the delegation expressed their disappointment by the lack of progress on the part of the G8 countries. They said that they expect world leaders to assume responsibility for promoting human development and global solidarity. They explicitly called for continued efforts to resolve the longstanding crisis of sovereign debt in a sustainable and just way; for coordinated measures against corruption; and for promises to increase development aid to be kept.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Civil G8 (4): G8 and NGOs in harmony? The dialogue as a dilemma

At the concluding round table of G8-Dialogue with civil society, Masahuru Kohno, deputy foreign minister and G8-sherpa from Japan, discoursed about the world. Would his prime minister change his national motto “for a beautiful country” to the summit motto “for a beautiful world”, when the summit comes to Hokkaido next year? The NGO representatives laughed but, they have to be very careful not to get caught in a dilemma which could be described as follows: the greater and the more detailed their demands and expectations addressed to the G8, the greater the impression they create that the Big 8 will fix everything in the “Brave New World”. Why, for example, must the G8 regularly deal with biodiversity (as demanded by the vice president of Deutsche Naturschutzring, Manfred Niekisch), when there are established bodies and the Conference of the Parties to the Biodiversity Convention dealing with this issue?

In the final round of the Civil G8 Dialogue the 20 NGO representatives—a representative of the German Federation of Industry (BDI) among them—who were allowed to share the table with the sherpas, again set off a small fireworks display of demands. But the German sherpa Bernd Pfaffenbach acted as if he could see no contradiction between the positions of Martin Khor from Third World Network (or even trade union representative Jürgen Eckl) and Claudia Wörmann of the BDI, who basically presented the demands of the G8 Business Summit the day before. Michael Frein of the Protestant Church Development Service (EED) restored clarity by reminding everyone that the Doha Round can hardly be called “a development round” from the NGO point of view, even if Pfaffenbach continues to depict it as such.

Civil G8 (3): Climate change on top of the agenda

Climate protection is developing to what may well be the mega-issue at the G8 summit in Heiligendamm. Karsten Zach, from the German environment ministry, informed the participants that the federal government pursued five negotiating targets in the preparations for Heiligendamm. They want the summit to (1) adopt a long-term vision for climate protection; (2) take initiatives for clear incentive systems for the markets; (3) favour technologies as well as energy efficiency, renewable energy and also “clean” coal; (4) reduce the existing incentives to predatory logging and finally, (5) complete a clear negotiation plan for the post-Kyoto period (starting in 2008 and concluding in 2009).

The subsequent discussion brought little that was new into the debate as to whether CO2 emissions should be reduced 20% by 2020 (as adopted by the EU) or 30% (like the NGOs demand). Angelika Zahrnt of BUND, the German section of Friends of the Earth, remarked critically that the German government’s climate policy gets more progressive in formulation the greater the distance of the conference location to Berlin. There was an obvious tendency to choose “easy solutions” which were in fact not solutions at all. Prominent examples are the re-discovery of coal as “clean coal” and the fact that biomass is now considered a priority. It was interesting that Hans Verlome from WWF doubted that the German government's attempt to involve China in climate policy through the O5 process was the right approach. Whoever wants to keep China from losing patience with Western pressure has to recognise China’s enormous progress in environmental protection. To support this development, the G8 countries need to make greater and more convincing offers of technology cooperation.

German business, says Michael Antony of the Allianz Group, has been too slow in developing approaches to turn climate protection into a “business case”. Nowhere are the particularly economic challenges of climate change more apparent than in the insurance industry. Antony, who was a major contributor to Allianz’s new climate strategy, would expect the G8 summit to agree on a reduction of 20% by 2020 and 60-80% by 2050 and a clear negotiating plan for post-Kyoto. Investors needed a clear framework since uncertainty is worse than regulation.

Civil G8 (2): The Dialogue as a civil society platform

For two days the Beethoven Hall in Bonn was transformed into a common boat carrying dialogue between the German G8 presidency and numerous NGOs from G8 countries as well as emerging and developing countries. As expected, the NGO spokespersons differed gradually as to the range of their demands. Uli Post (VENRO) criticised that the German G8 agenda clearly lacked an implementation plan for the promises made at Gleneagles two years ago. Moreover the biodiversity issue was not even mentioned. Jürgen Maier (Forum Umwelt & Entwicklung) raved about a global deal between the G8 and O5 (‘outreach’ countries: Brazil, India, South Africa, Mexico and China) on climate protection and energy policy, but found fault with the apparent fact that no one can say to this day how the O5 will benefit from it. Thomas Münchmeyer from Greenpeace wants the summit to set a CO2 reduction target of 30% by 2020, deceleration of global warming to less than 2 °C and a clear negotiating brief for the climate conference in Bali at year's end. Thus the G8 must – if necessary – live without a consensus and act without the USA.

However, Peter Wahl of Attac was less optimistic. He forecast that the Heiligendamm summit will deliver the most meagre results of any G8 summit in years. Not only because the old men like Bush, Blair and Chirac will not be there or only attend as lame ducks; but with the expansion of the summit to G8 plus O5 the contradictions are greater than ever before. Since Russia’s entry, the club’s ability to deliver significant results has been continuously diminished.

Civil G8 (1): Business in Berlin – NGOs in Bonn: Two worlds apart

Every event was unique: It was the first G8 Business Summit, and it was the first debate between a wide range of civil society organisations (CSOs) and the sherpas of all G8 countries which took place last week in Berlin and Bonn. But a closer look at the two events reveals a deep rift between the two. In Bonn Martin Khor of the Third World Network deplored that trade ministers have ceased to make policy in the interest of their people and only represent the interests of special lobbies. The first G8 Business Summit clearly showed that this charge is not too far-fetched. In a G8 Joint Business Declaration the eight industry associations of the G8 countries demanded that the summit in Heiligendamm ought to push harder among other things for “investment freedom”, better innovation and patent protection and more favourable conditions for private investment in Africa.

German chancellor Angela Merkel promised industry representatives in turn that she would “try to raise these ideas”. However these very ideas have long been central elements of the German G8 agenda. This raises once again that old, unanswerable question, which came first – the chicken or the egg.

In pleasant contrast to the consensus shared by big government and big capital in Berlin, different opinions were openly discussed at the Civil G8 Dialogue. Khor rebutted the Western dogma that development functions better the stronger innovation is protected by patent law. While in Berlin an urgent completion of the Doha Round was demanded mantra-like, in Bonn Khor underlined that this would simply not be a fair deal for the Third World given present offers. Ronny Hall from Friends of the Earth International pointed out that there are two, strictly separated global governance systems in the world: here the United Nations system and there the economic institutions with the WTO as centrepiece. So far, the G8 have always managed to ensure that the latter dominates the former.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Guest Comment: Four points for the G8 to act on finance

By Martin Khor

1. Curb speculation. The world is on the brink of a new global financial crisis. There has been not action by the G8 to regulate the speculative flow of funds, and new dangerous forms of speculation, carried out by hedge funds and through derivatives etc, have emerged. The G8 must now act to control hedge funds and derivatives, and regulate the flows of hot money and speculative funds. Hedge funds should not removed from the agenda.

2. Fundamental changes to the Bretton Woods institutions should be initiated. The IMF should not involved in policy-based lending to developing countries. It has a very bad record with the adverse effects of its conditionalities. The World Bank should also be reformed by lending only for projects with sustainable development criteria for its project loans. The governance system of both institutions must be fundamentally reformed, so that the developing countries have fair voice and representation. The September 2006 measure relating to the IMF is clearly insufficient and in some ways detrimental.

3. Deepen and widen debt cancellation. The move to cancel debts of some developing countries should continue. The G8 must not lose momentum on debt relief and cancellation. Debt cancellation must be extended to more countries including middle-income countries. Also, a mechanism for debt restructuring and rescheduling should be set up for countries facing debt-repayment problems, in which these countries can suspend their debt payment until a debt rescheduling scheme is worked out.

4. Aid should be reformed to really serve development needs, and the volume of aid should increase, as promised in previous G8 summits but not realised. Aid volume has instead declined in the past year. There should be an increase in aid for example for R and D and innovation for medicines for diseases that especially affect developing countries. Such R and D funds should be linked to medicines that will not be patented as the funding comes from the public sector. The medicine prices can be controlled to a low level so that they are accessible to the poor.

Martin Khor is director of the Third World Network, Malaysia. This comment is taken from his presentation to the Civil G8 Dialogue (25-26 April) in Bonn. We will report.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Caritas Internationalis general assembly to parallel G8 summit

The 18th general assembly of Caritas Internationalis meeting in Rome from 3-9 June will parallel the annual Group of Eight summit in Germany, but will tell a different tale, said the Catholic aid organisation's secretary-general, Duncan MacLaren. "The Caritas general assembly and the G8 will be more than a tale of two summits, they will be a tale of two worlds. On one hand, you have the leaders representing the interests of the world's rich countries with a combined gross domestic product of over $30 trillion. On the other hand, you have representatives of civil society working for the world's 3 billion people living on less than $1 a day."

MacLaren said that "G8 leaders must live up to their promises on aid." He added that "there is backsliding with the commitments made" two years ago at the summit held in Gleneagles, Scotland. "Caritas wants G-8 countries to deliver on promises to increase aid to 0.7% of national income, and to ensure that aid is used effectively to end poverty. Millions of the poor will suffer as a consequence of these broken promises," he added. – Keynote speakers for the Caritas meeting will include Nobel Peace Prize laureate Wangari Maathai and president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, Cardinal Renato Martino.

Meanwhile, catholic church leaders from some of the world’s poorest countries are touring European capitals this week to call on the world’s richest countries to keep promises on aid at the next G8 summit. The tour is part of an international catholic campaign, Make Aid Work. The World Can't Wait, calling on G8 governments to increase aid and ensure it effectively targets poverty. The delegates include Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga of Tegulcigapa, Honduras, Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja, Nigeria, Archbishop Vincent Concessao of Delhi, India, and Archbishop Laurent Monsengwo of Kisangani, Democratic Republic of Congo. They met British Prime Minister Tony Blair in London on Monday, and will meet the German President Horst Köhler in Berlin on Wednesday, and Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi on Thursday. The tour will end with a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI on Friday.

Archbishop John Onaiyekan of Abuja said, “The G8 governments have no mandate for global governance, yet their decisions affect millions of poor people. They have a responsibility to ensure that their policies guide the world towards human and environmental development.” The campaign is organised by the two international networks of Catholic development organisations - CIDSE and Caritas Internationalis.

Missed Woodstock? Don’t miss Rostock! Grönemeyer, Bono, and others at P8 summit concert

“Music & Messages” will be the motto of a major cultural event to be held in Rostock, Germany, on 7 June 2007, shadowing the G8 summit in Heiligendamm. The campaign “Deine Stimme gegen Armut” (“Your Voice against Poverty”) is expecting thousands of participants in the grounds of the International Horticultural Exhibition (“IGA-Park”) to a peaceful rally against poverty and calling on the rich industrialised nations for more political engagement for the development. So far, Herbert Grönemeyer, Bono (photo), Die Fantastischen Vier, Die Toten Hosen, Seeed, Silbermond, 2Raumwohnung and Sportfreunde Stiller have confirmed their coming. Musical ambassadors and speakers from a selection of eight developing countries representing the world’s poorest countries as the “P8” (Poor 8) will join them. In addition, short films will report about the daily life in these countries.

“It’s up to us to do something about social imbalance in the world now. We are able to, and we will be heard because we are loud enough,” says Herbert Grönemeyer. U2 singer Bono, already an activist for years, notes: “I missed Woodstock, and now I’m not going to miss Rostock! If the G8 heads think that they can ignore this campaign, they are making a very big mistake.”

The artists are co-operating with the Association of German Development Non-Governmental Organisations (VENRO) in the campaign Deine Stimme gegen Armut (“Your Voice against Poverty”; see German video spot above). The tickets for the event include only the advance booking fee and will cost just €2.50. They will be available at Europe’s leading ticket portals and and at all of the usual Eventim booking offices from 2 May on.

Friday, April 27, 2007

Guest Comment: Concert of great powers or democratic global governance?

By Thomas Fues and Sachin Joshi

More urgent than ever, the upcoming meeting of the most important industrialised countries in Heiligendamm is faced with the question on the future of the summit architecture. The phenomenal rise of the emerging powers, particularly China and India, has called into life a new geography of the global economy and international politics, which can no longer be dominated by the West. (The military hegemony of the US is a separate though connected issue.) Nobody has recognized this more clearly than the Bush Administration as meticulously analyzed by US political scientist Daniel Drezner in the current issue of Foreign Affairs. Mostly unnoticed by the international public, the US wants to integrate China and India into multilateral institutions (e.g. IMF, WTO) and install a new triad of great powers. It is the European countries which are disturbed since they deny their loss of influence in the „Asian century“ and cling to obsolete privileges.

What can Europe do to prevent a new concert of great powers and to support democratic global governance? In its attempt to prevent the ‘concert’ the worst answer would be if the EU itself were to strive for great power status by building up military capacities. This would tear the Union apart; a European torso could not master this task. The right approach, however, would be if the EU would become the leading force for an equitable world order and thus would increase its reputation and influence in the world. In other words, support democratic global governance. This would imply that European countries withdraw from antiquated positions of power in order to allow for the new powers to gain more leverage. For example, EU states should pool their voting rights and seats in the IMF and agree to a substantial reduction. Also, Europe should be represented with a single seat in a reformed summit architecture, as in the proposed „L20+“ of heads of state and government from North and South. If Europe is not ready for a voluntary relinquishment of power and sustainable change of course, it will be faced with a concert of great powers consisting of the US, China and India, which will undermine the foundations of the United Nations and block democratic global governance for a long time to come.

The EU leaders have the right opportunity to discuss their strategy to support democratic global governance at Heiligendamm. The question however remains, whether they will take the first step forward.

Dr. Thomas Fues is a senior economist at the German Development Institute (GDI) in Bonn; Sachin Joshi is a researcher in New Dehli and is currently attending GDI's Global Governance School.

Angela Merkel’s new strategy on raw materials

Raw materials security, according to the president of the German Federation of Industry (BDI), Jürgen Thumann, at their 2nd Raw Materials Congress in Berlin last month, is “not only secure supply of our economy with oil and gas, but also with metals such as copper, zinc, nickel, and tungsten ores”. Just in time and before the G8 summit, the federal government presented German industry with “a new raw materials strategy”, in the context of the high priority given to “energy security”. The German chancellor herself, Angela Merkel, outlined cornerstones of this strategy at the BDI Raw Materials Congress.

Indeed the new strategy includes compliance with minimum ecological standards and the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI), which the chancellor will reinforce at the G8 summit. However, the core objective of the strategy, according to Ms Merkel, is “to support the raw materials initiatives of business abroad”. To do this the federal government will continue to increase the investment guarantees for raw materials investment abroad. Last year alone this guaranty volume abroad rose to €4.1bn—the German government is thus among the “top” worldwide. A second pillar of the strategy is greater support for research and development to promote raw materials productivity.

In order to initiate the new raw materials strategy, the federal government intends to create an inter-ministerial raw materials committee. All possible departments will be able to participate, including those of foreign and security policy. However it should not be hard to guess who will set the agenda. The chancellor told the BDI delegates, “You will now get the forum you asked for”. Meanwhile the critical observer may ask how strong national government backing will still be given to secure raw materials, despite all the talk about globalisation.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

ITUC urges G8 to step up its efforts in the fight against AIDS

Only a few days ahead of the 12th World Day for Safety and Health at Work, commemorating workers who died or were injured at work as a result of unsatisfactory production methods or working conditions, the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC) urges the G8 to step up its efforts to tackle the spread of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Almost 40 million people across the world are currently living with HIV, 80% of whom are adults. More than half of those infected form part of the active population and are between 15 and 49. Many workers who are no longer physically fit enough to go to work depend on their young children who then have to meet the family's needs.

Despite being at the top of the global agenda - the fight against AIDS is one of the Millennium Goals - results remain poor. Trade unions already placed pressure on the G8 meeting last year. The 2006 summit made a commitment to taking practical measures to monitor AIDS and other infectious diseases, present reports and disseminate information. These commitments have not had the desired results.

Therefore, the ITUC reiterates its demand to the next G8 summit, to be held in early July in Germany, that the promised development aid and contributions to the Global Fund to fight this pandemic be released as soon as possible. "The G8 must keep the commitments it made last year and step up its efforts to stop this pandemic," said ITUC General Secretary Guy Ryder. "It has the capacity to do so and must therefore make this a priority action for 2007."

Monday, April 23, 2007

Welcome to the G8 Blog of World Economy & Development and Heinrich Böll Foundation

By Rainer Falk and Barbara Unmüßig

Preparations for the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, from 6-8 June 2007, are well underway—on both sides of the fence. The German government has been building it so that, as in the past years, the conference can be held far from the madding crowd. While there has been scarcity of substance in the debate “outside”, the “inside” also failed to set the course, so no groundbreaking development and environmental policy signals – or at least indications that past promises will be kept - should be expected from this summit.

This blog is intended to contribute to the substantive debate in the final sprint to the summit. We will present briefs and summaries of the preparatory meetings as well as commentary on current events, regularly and the closer the summit becomes—more frequently. We will report about the official meetings of G7 and G8 ministers as well as the numerous civil society events. We want to bring more light and transparency into the preparation for a summit meting which for more than 30 years has strived as an exclusive club of the influential to determine the course of world development. We want to provoke discussion about reform and alternatives.

We deliberately chose the blog medium since it is especially suited to links and networks and permits spontaneous interventions and commentaries. “Blogging G8” is written primarily by Rainer Falk. However, numerous guest commentaries are to be included. Add our blog ( address to your favourites, use our RSS feed or simply check-out our pages regularly. We warmly invite everyone interested to actively participate in our blog.

Happy blogging!

Draft G8 Declaration for Heiligendamm leaked: an agenda against the South

A first internal draft of a declaration for the coming G8 summit has been leaked. The Washington-based NGO Oil Change International published the 21-page text on its website. The document entitled Growth and Responsibility in the Global Economy obviously comprises the economic policy part of the planned summit document. There is nothing on the implementation of promises made at the G8 summit at Gleneagles and the Africa policy announced as the second focus of the German G8 agenda. The individual chapters deal with the issues of global imbalance, international investment, innovation protection, climate change and energy efficiency as well as raw materials security and transparency.

Above all the chapters on “investment freedom, investment environment and social responsibility” and “promoting innovation—protecting innovation” show that the German government intends to use the summit to impose an anti-South agenda. Thus it wants to mobilise against the emerging economies for their alleged “new investment protectionism” and further strengthen patent law and intellectual property instruments against product piracy. However, both the political control of foreign investment (which can include unequal treatment) and the imitation of products and production processes were always first order development factors.