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Report Says G8 Countries Short $10B On $50B Commitment, Reveals Mixed Progress On Health Goals

An accountability report, prepared by officials in G8 member countries’ foreign affairs departments, acknowledges that G8 “countries are $10 billion behind the five-year, $50-billion commitment they made at their 2005 summit in Scotland,” the Canadian Press/CTV News reports (6/20).

“Overall there is a good story to tell. The G8 has acted as a force for positive change and its actions have made a difference in addressing global challenges,” according to the report, which was released on Sunday ahead of the upcoming G8 summit in Muskoka, Ontario, the Toronto Star reports.

The report “bills itself as a ‘candid assessment’ of the G8’s progress on some key promises that have included everything from food security to education, environment to health and debt relief – 56 promises in all,” the newspaper writes. “On balance, the report gives the group a passing grade, saying that ‘in some areas, the G8 can point to considerable success; in others, it has further to go to fully deliver on its promises,’” according to the Toronto Star.

On health-related goals, the report notes that in some areas, “G8 commitments have not produced the results hoped for.” It highlights the global effort to fight polio, noting that eradication has not yet been achieved, and also notes the high maternal death rate. “Universal access targets with respect to HIV/AIDS will not be met by 2010, and many developing countries, in particular those in Africa, remain off track to achieve the health-related (goals). The (goals) on child mortality and maternal health are proving the toughest area,” the report states (Campion-Smith, 6/20).  

On water and sanitation targets, the report finds that “progress to these goals provide a mixed message: on track to meet the water goal globally, but dangerously behind in achieving the sanitation goal, with Sub-Saharan Africa making the slowest progress.” It also said that “[s]upport for sanitation and water is not reaching the most affected countries with only 42 percent of development aid commitments in sanitation and water over the past 3 years reaching the least developed or low-income countries.”

The report also noted G8 efforts to ensure global food security (.pdf). “Significant G8 investments have helped to reverse the overall decline of aid and investment in the agricultural sector. Momentum has been sustained through the 2009 L’Aquila $20 billion commitments by the G8 and other donors, the subsequent donor pledges to over $22 billion and the allocations and disbursements to date,” according to the report, which also said that “establishment of the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative (AFSI) represents a major step forward in the way the G8 makes and tracks commitments” (6/20).  

During the release of the report Sunday, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon said the G8 was an “important tool to be able to achieve … a number of goals.” He added, “This is an organization that is doing a stellar job and will maintain that role,” the Toronto Star writes. The article includes reactions from advocates who praised the accountability exercise, but were critical of the “lack of a strategy to speed progress in areas deemed to be falling short” (6/20).

Also at the press conference to mark the release of the report on Sunday, Canadian International Co-operation Minister Bev Oda highlighted the need for G8 countries to follow through on their pledges, the Toronto Sun reports. “It’s more important than ever that we pay what we pledge,” she said (Raj, 6/20).

Obama Letter To G20 Counterparts Focuses On Global Financial Recovery

President Barack Obama on Thursday sent a letter (.pdf) to G20 leaders, urging them to strengthen the global financial recovery, Canwest News Service/Montreal Gazette reports. “In a letter released ahead of next week’s summit in Toronto, Obama told his G20 counterparts they need to ‘complete the work of financial repair’ launched after the 2008 banking crisis. ‘Our highest priority in Toronto must be to safeguard and strengthen the recovery,’ Obama said. ‘We worked exceptionally hard to restore growth; we cannot let it falter or lose strength now’” (Alberts, 6/19). 

In related news, CBC News published an interview with Daniel Price, a senior policy advisor to former President George W. Bush “who helped shape the agenda at that first G20 leaders’ summit in Washington in November 2008, at the height of the world financial crisis.” The interview includes several questions about the G20.

“Over the last five to 10 years, the G8 has evolved away from macro economic management and towards addressing developmental issues such as AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and maternal and child health,” Price observes in response to a question about the evolving role of the G8 (Clibbon, 6/18).

VOA News also features an interview with Robert Zachritz, director of advocacy and government relations for World Vision, which will be “[o]ne of the many aid organizations that will attend the summits.” The economy’s affect on aid, as well as child and maternal health are some of the subjects covered in the piece (DeCapua, 6/18).