The world is watching and won’t look away.

July 10, 2008 at 12:29 pm 2 comments

Max Lawson by Max Lawson, policy advisor at Oxfam.


So its all over- the leaders have left on their various planes, they are dismantling the 30 million dollar media centre, and we are all getting ready to go. So was it worth it? What did we get from the G8 in Japan? Why should campaigners around the world keep demanding that the G8 act?

Because this is a key moment of accountability where the eyes of the world are on the most powerful leaders, and they have to account for themselves. Because when the G8 act, millions of lives can be saved. Because if we were not constantly keeping up the pressure they would do even less than what they manage to do now.

This summit will be remembered as the G8 where leaders learned that they cannot quietly forget their commitments to the world’s poor. Without campaigners around the world and here in Japan they would have gotten away with portraying the target set for 50% cut in emissions by 2050 as a huge step forward on climate change. Instead it was clear to everyone that it was a very long way from what is needed and that they need to do much more, much sooner.

Without campaigners around the world demanding action and embarrassing them they would have quietly forgotten the promises they made in Gleneagles in 2005 to increase aid by $50 billion by 2010. Instead their officials were forced to stay up until 3.30am fighting and debating until the numbers were put back in.

We could have got more. We had the most attention ever on health, especially on the need for 4.25 million more nurses and doctors, but although the G8 recognised this crucial need we did not see signficant increases in aid for health, or significant commitment to co-ordinate aid behind developing country health plans.

On food, although we saw commitments of money, the G8 absolutely failed to tackle the major cause of the food crisis, biofuels, and the G8 still are getting away with burning food whilst poor people starve.

So what next? We will continue the fight into September, when world leaders meet again to discuss the Millennium Development Goals and again in December when they meet to discuss climate change. Because the world leaders need to know we’re watching them and expect them to deliver.


Entry filed under: G8 2008 - Japan, Health and Education For All. Tags: , , , , .

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. chuck kottke  |  July 17, 2008 at 5:48 pm

    Too often we see the world in terms of scarce resources, and limit our view of the whole. What I think is needed is a new approach, where looking at the well being of others has pay-offs in terms of healthy, productive friends; not just a cost. It is because of short-sighted economics; a type of myopia that views everything outside of one’s sphere as a “cost”, and only the broad-minded humans of the world can connect all these parts, understand the mechanisms, and bring about change.
    So, it seems that a rational approach would be to select an honest, representative government in every nation, one that values fairness and ‘externalities’ as very important realities to incorporate into policy, so that the values of the whole of humanity are not lost in the minutia of selfishness. We have been failing in the US on this, but I hope to see a resurgence of Democracy here as well!
    Are biofuels really the problem, or are they a symptom of a much larger dysfunction? In truth, it’s more the latter than the former. We (the U.S.) as the largest most wasteful nation on earth, need to set the gold standard for efficiency; that’s the 90% of the solution. And it will mean getting a better, more enjoyable quality of life, as it isn’t oil or gas that we really want – it’s the vehicle to get us around, the comfortable places, and the hot pizza! So, doing the right things to rapidly incentivise efficiency, both short and long-term, will drastically reduce our energy demands, and take the pressure off of grain being used for fuels. Should biofuels be part of the mix? Well, why not? As long as it’s not damaging to human health, safety, or the environment, and we have a surplus of biomass to efficiently use for biofuels, well, it makes sense then. Biofuels also make good sense for those of us living in arctic and subarctic climates, where the long, cold, dark winter months necessitate heating, and while making the building envelopes efficient is priority one, the next level is to use a stored renewable resource for home and business energy production. My future option will be to install a wood gasifier system, that takes cubed wood pieces, and gasifies them in a chamber; using the gas produced to drive an engine (in larger settings, a turbine), will produce sufficient electricity during those harsh months, and the waste heat will do the heating of home and water.
    Otherwise, in winter, our options are limited. Iceland has geothermal, and so can many areas with hot springs, but we have fewer options. Biofuels, if done right, are a good choice. But it is true that feeding people in need comes first, and efficiency will get us so much farther than focusing on increasing production & extraction all the time.
    And yes, the workers in the fruit industry deserve better. I’ve worked those jobs, and it is much the same here in the U.S. – the workers are set to an “agricultural” minimum, and no safety or benefits. Across the board fair-trade is the way to go!!

  • 2. JJ  |  July 24, 2008 at 5:37 am

    We as taxpayers are sick and tired of endlessly providing money and help to the failed states of the world. Rather put pressure on the so-called leaders of these states to rectify their disastrous policies and bad leadership. Zimbabwe, South Africa and the AU comes to mind here.

    Organizations such as Oxfam are only perpetuating the problem – by addressing the symptoms instead of focusing on the root causes of poverty: bad economical and social policies.

    Stop blaming the ‘rich’ nations for the poverty in the world – rather help the poor nations to emulate those practices that made the rich countries rich – such as creating democratic institutions and addressing corruption. By blaming the G8, Oxfam is now becoming part of the problem!


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