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The G8 draws to a close

We got the final communiqué today, the announcement was followed by a flurry of activity in the media centre as people read through and responded to the 16-page document.

It’s a mixed picture. There’s stuff in there that is great a commitment by the leaders to the international targets on reducing the number of child and maternal health and the hunger initiative they introduced at L’Aquila last year has seen decent commitments.

But the bad news is they have dropped any reference to the Gleneagles commitment. All the promises that were made in the spirit of Make Poverty History in 2005 have disappeared into thin air.

This was supposed to be “the accountability summit” but they seem to have forgotten the promises they made.

It was interesting to hear Stephen Harper say that the pledges made by the G8 weren’t to be treated with the same skepticism as previous pledges because the countries were experiencing tight financial circumstances at home and had made “very cautious” commitments.

Does that mean usually they throw caution to the wind and over promise with abandon? Seems like promise big, deliver small, drop target might have been the strategy of more than a few G8 heads.

And turning to the commitments – Canadian press report that, of the $5 billion pledged by the G8 over five years, $1.1 billion is from Canada, $1.346 billion from the United States (over two years), $600 million from the UK (again over two years), $500 million from Germany, $500 million from Japan, $428 million from Italy (of which $190 million was already committed)  and $400 million from France.

No surprises really. But overall it is less than half what we had hoped for and not enough to plug the funding gap on maternal and child health.

So now it’s the turn of the G20. One thing Harper can be commended for is making sure that there are a range of voices at his negotiating table. Rich countries can’t tackle massive global issues like child and maternal mortality alone.

It is right that emerging donors, like South Korea and Saudi Arabia, and countries with the largest burdens of child and maternal mortality, like China and India, have a say.

There has also been some violent protests in the city. An amorphous bunch campaigning on a range of issues. Police cars have been set on fire and coffee shops vandalised. Estimated 40,000 on the streets of Toronto.

Yellow card for G8 on global poverty, G20 comes on as substitute

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