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NEWS: The G8’s $10 billion failure

The G8 has evaluated and graded itself. And it likes what it sees.

The Toronto Star reports that, “The world’s biggest nations are giving themselves a pat on the back for making good on pledges to help their poorest neighbours, even as they admit they’ve come up $10 billion short in promised aid. (The G8) released the ‘Muskoka Accountability Report’ on Sunday assessing the progress so far on the big-ticket promises made at past summits.”

The Canwest News Service adds that, “But other than the official aid shortfall, the nearly 90 pages did not contain much clear information on how close or how far the G8 countries are, as a group, from delivering on more than 50 development-related pledges and plans from past summits that it examined.”

WATER
The Toronto Star highlights that on water, even the G8’s own “report warns that of falling ‘dangerously behind’ on the provision of sanitation.” The report notes, “Support for sanitation and water is not reaching the most affected countries with only 42 per cent of development aid commitments in sanitation and water over the past 3 years reaching the least developed or low income countries.”

CANADA GIVES ITSELF AN ‘A’
The Globe and Mail reports that, “On a key measurement of foreign aid by G8 members, the report shows Canada is fourth and out of step with efforts to further increase aid by 2015. Using Official Development Assistance as a percentage of Gross National Income, Canada’s 0.33 per cent for 2010 places it fourth, behind Germany’s 0.40, France’s 0.46 and the United Kingdom’s 0.60. The European Union as a whole, which has a seat at the G8, is planning to reach 0.7 by 2015. The report does not list any similar pledge from Canada.”

But that doesn’t matter to Canada’s Foreign Minister Lawrence Cannon. He says Canada deserves an ‘A’ for living up to its pledges.

A DOSE OF REALITY

The Harper government has made much of maternal health as its summit priority, but Jeffrey Sachs, a leading economist and adviser to the UN Secretary General, says, “I can’t say that we’ve seen the Harper government really do much on these issues at all. And if they try to pass this off as a success, and they freeze the aid and the levels go down even from 0.3 of one per cent of (GDP), it would be pretty disappointing and far from accountable.”

Canada’s $5 billion aid budget will be frozen next year and is well below former prime minister Lester B. Pearson’s target of spending 0.7 per cent of GDP on development aid. Sachs says, “It is extremely surprising to me, I have to say, in an era where Canada’s economic performance has been very strong, Canada’s a very prosperous and wealthy country … it hasn’t seen fit to follow through on the very important targets it itself helped to institute.”

SCRAP THE SUMMITS

Sachs says, “The very summit that’s supposed to be about commitments being fulfilled and about accountability, they are probably going to try to duck this. In my view this would essentially be the end of the G8 as a credible instrument.”

By patting themselves on the back, the G8 has done just that. To join our call to scrap the summits, please go to http://canadians.org/action/2010/scrap-summit.html.