By Tim Saunders on
Bill Gates, Desmond Tutu and Bob Geldof all talked at the event, which launched the annual report that aims to measure the G8 against commitments made at their 2005 summit in Scotland. But the news is not good, revealing that France and Italy are performing so poorly that they are threatening to cause the G8 as a whole to default.
“It saddens me and angers me that great nations like Italy and France are going in the wrong direction,” said Archbishop Tutu of South Africa. “We must all campaign to encourage the forthcoming G8 meetings to do better and do what is right.”
“That [the Italian] economy is in such a disastrous meltdown condition, they must steal from the poor, rob the ill and snatch education from the minds of the young not only beggars the imagination but must also surely beggar the soul of that most beautiful country,” added Geldof. “Shame on you.”
The report laid out a number of findings:
- By 2008, the G8 had delivered only a third of their commitment—just $7 billion of the total $21.5 billion increases promised to Africa by 2010. Some countries fared better than others: the US, Canada and Japan are meeting or beating modest targets; Germany and the UK are striving to meet their more ambitious commitments. France’s delivery is disappointing, and Italy—the host of the upcoming G8 Summit—has utterly failed to make progress on its promised aid.
- Looking ahead to 2009, ONE estimates that the G8 will have delivered only a half of their commitment. 80% of the 2009 shortfall will be due to France and Italy. That means that in 2010, the G8 must deliver the entire other half to reach their target.
- In 2008, the G8 met in Accra to review progress on improving aid effectiveness. While the forum helped accelerate progress towards achieving better aid, more must be done to reach the 2010 goals.
- The steps taken by the G8 since 2005 have brought them close to fulfilling their commitments on debt. At the end of 2008, Africa had been relieved of $92.8 billion of its debt obligations.
- But the global financial crisis threatens to overturn these advances. Among the 20 African countries that reached ‘completion point’ in the debt cancellation process, 11 now face a risk of debt distress through reaccumulation of debt.
- The G8 are not living up to their promise to “make trade work for Africa.” Despite an increase in exports, Africa accounts for only 3.5% of global trade—the lowest share of any region in the world.
The report was launched the day before finance ministers from the G8 countries — Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia and the United States — are to meet for two days of talks in Italy, ahead of the next G8 meeting in July.
“Why do we have the obligation to help another person we will never know and never see,” said Geldof. “Why would [Bill Gates] decide to devote the rest of his entire life and his entire fortune to that end? It’s because that singular condition of poverty can be removed. Indeed, it must be removed [otherwise] we cannot build a new global financial architecture, one that collapsed because 50% of the planet was not included. They live on less than $2 a day – you cannot live on $2 a day! I will repeat that – you cannot live on $2 a day. So you die. So we remove from the world economy, the creative dynamic, the intellectual stimulus, the productivity that these people have. By injecting that into the world economy, they can have their own health systems, they can have coherent governments, they can buy our stuff and we can buy their’s. And we won’t have to give aid any more.”
A video of highlights of the launch can be found here.
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