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Blogging from the Civil G8

I am at a meeting in Rome called the Civil G8. It is a meeting for charities and pressure groups to set out their priorities for the G8 meeting when it happens in July in Italy. At the end of the day, we get the chance to put these priorities and some tough questions to the government officials who are preparing the G8 meeting. As always, there are many groups here with different and sometimes conflicting priorities, but all agreed that, although the G8 is a private club of rich countries, it has power over developing countries and therefore should be pushed to do better. We spent a day talking through our concerns, doing our best to identify some top priorities under every topic. This is even more difficult with the economic crisis which is dominating the discussions and threatens to push developing countries concerns off the agenda.

I am here on behalf of Save the Children arguing for measures that will reduce the deaths of children under 5. The G8 has made many statements about global health but needs pushing to actually deliver their targets. At the moment, we are pushing them to focus more on maternal and child health which has been badly neglected, and to support initiatives which build the health systems in developing countries. We are also discussing the importance of addressing hunger and nutrition for child deaths and the impact of climate change.

The government officials have joined us for the final hours of the second day. They are officials, not politicians, but they are very good at answering tough questions with friendly words but avoiding any real commitment. They seem to begin every response saying “I really agree with what has been said….” Before then going on to avoid making any commitment. Which issues they have heard and will convey to their political leaders remains to be seen.

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