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G8 Summit Diary: How woolly hats will change the world

Half way through an interview with a Russian TV news crew I couldn’t help being distracted by something moving in my peripheral vision. In the car park next to us a little electric vehicle was circling round and round, carrying a passenger with a slightly nervous smile.

The Japanese are showing off their green motor industry here at the G8. It’s not quite a bike, not quite a car. Somewhere between a large wheelchair and a small forklift truck. I tried to keep my mind on the Russian government’s commitment on aid.

Later I did a radio interview live into a drivetime show on Australian public radio. The interviewer actually said ‘fair dinkum’ to me.

This afternoon I proudly waved a small woolly hat in the air from a press conference platform. The hat was knitted by Val from Burpham in Surrey and has a message attached to it to Gordon Brown which says: “If little people like me can make an effort to care for our fellow human beings, then surely the big players on the world stage can do even more to help those at risk through no fault of their own.”

It’s one of around 200,000 hats knitted by people in the UK for Save the Children that will end up on the heads of babies in some of the poorest countries and help ensure they don’t lose heat through their heads – one of the most common ways new born babies can die. I was demonstrating how people are finding new and innovative ways to campaign for change and make a difference in the world. Val made quite an impact. A great antidote to the ever-decreasing circles of policy debate that sometimes dominate around these summits.

We got the main summit conclusions on poverty and Africa this afternoon. The G8 agreed to a significant step forward. Well, that’s how we described it when they first agreed the same thing three years ago. It’s exhausting and frustrating to have to keep coming back and arguing for the same promises over and over again. For those inside these governments who actually want to do something about poverty, it must be even worse.

Still, we got some words in their agreement which are a breakthrough for our campaign on child survival, calling for ‘country-led plans’ – what we’d asked for too – that would put the survival of children and their mothers at the centre of the plan, and tackle the need for nutrition as well as good health care. A third of babies and children die simply because they don’t get enough decent food. It’s criminal. We’ll seize on this call from the G8 and urge other countries to develop these plans (and then get the G8 to ensure there are the funds to back them…)

Important news on Daniel and the Dixieland Diggers. First, they are apparently not bears but dogs. My colleague Leora told me this and she has one (a dog that is) so I’ve taken her word for it. Secondly, I unfairly maligned the Japanese animatronics industry. The Diggers do move. I haven’t seen it but we saw Bob Geldof last night and he apparently ran towards them and they sprang into action, music and dancing and everything. I don’t know if its only Bob Geldof who can make them do this. Maybe he should try the same approach with the G8.

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