G8 Pyjama Party in Potsdam

May 22, 2007 at 12:20 pm Leave a comment

This weekend saw the final meeting of the G8 finance ministers before the full G8 Summit in Heiligendamm at the start of June. In previous years, this meeting of the G8 money men has been critical in doing the deals on issues such as the debt cancellation to be announced by their bosses at the main summit. This year’s G8 finance ministers was held in Potsdam just outside Berlin and I was there.

The meeting took place against the backdrop of an increasingly loud chorus of disapproval about falling G8 aid to Africa and the breaking of promises to increase aid made two years ago in Gleneagles. The G8 is off track. In 2005 the G8 promised to increase annual aid levels by $50 billion by 2010. Oxfam has calculated on current trends they will miss this by a staggering $30 billion, and that this could cost as many as five million lives.

On the morning the G8 ministers arrived, the GCAP open letter from economists and notables across the world was published on page 3 of the Financial Times and its sister paper the Financial Times Deutschland. The advert was also sent to all the staff of the minsiters involved, and distributed around the press room. There is no doubt that all the key officials saw it, and were made aware of the 40,000 people worldwide who signed the AVAAZ petition in the 3 short days preceding the meeting. And this did ensure Africa and the G8’s promises were not forgotten altogether.

Despite this high profile and public questioning of their credibility, sadly G8 finance ministers themselves seemed disinterested and failed to take the action they easily could have to get back on track. Overall the sleepy siesta-like atmosphere of the meeting bore no relation to the critical urgency and gravity of the issues at stake and the impact of the G8 financial failure to help Africa.

The final communique did contain the following sentence: “We reaffirm our commitment to meeting our responsibilities as donors, in particular the importance of delivering on our aid commitments”

This would definitely not have been there without serious pressure from campaigners worldwide, but apart from this the finance ministers definitely did not rise to the challenge of falling aid levels and jeopardised G8 credibility. Eighteen days remain until the summit itself, with the final negotiations likely to be pretty intense. It remains to be seen whether the G8 leaders will do what their bean counters failed to; deliver clear annual timetables for how they will increase aid to meet and exceed their promises, and to reach the UN agreed target of 0.7% of national income.


Entry filed under: G8 2007 - Germany.

What is the G8 Summit? Soul Sisters Summit in Berlin

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