Anti-poverty groups want action at G8 summit
VANCOUVER - With the 2010 G8 summit just over two months away, civil society groups from around the world spent Friday meeting with G8 representatives in Vancouver.
Members from more than 60 non-governmental organizations, health, and labour groups met with G8 "sherpas," or top civil servants who advise their respective leaders.
Anti-poverty and climate-change advocates urged leaders to come to the June 25-27 summit in Huntsville, Ont., with meaningful ideas on how to combat poverty and global warming.
Glenn Farred, a spokesman for South Africa's Global Campaign Against Poverty, said it's critical for the G8 to get on track with the financial commitments it has long since made.
The Group of Eight countries agreed in 2005 at the Gleneagles summit in Scotland to double their official development assistance by 2010, and dedicate a larger proportion of their aid to Africa.
But figures released Thursday by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development show the G8 countries have fallen US$18 billion short on that promise.
"We cannot have another five years of failure," Farred said Friday at a news conference at a downtown Vancouver hotel.
"We need a little bit of demonstrable, tangible, clear actions on the parts of leaders. We can't eat commitments."
Canada has mostly lived up to what it pledged and has put $5 billion toward aid in 2010-2011.
Farred said the G8 host country, however, can still do more.
"Taking on maternal and child health has been an important contribution by the Canadian government. I'm not sure we're really happy with everything else the Canadian government has done," he said.
Harper has made maternal and child health a key theme of the summit, and has stressed that accountability will also be discussed.
But Farred said the people of the world are expecting Canada to advance a number of issues, including climate change.
Zoe Caron, a spokeswoman for World Wildlife Fund Canada, shared that message and called on Canada to hold an environment ministers meeting during the summit.
She said Canada is the first G8 host in recent memory not to hold the environmental event.
"We really think that the G8 -- despite it not being a major place for economic discussions, right now that's the G20 -- it can still play a very important role in helping the world shift and break through to a clean energy economy," she said.
Caron said a lot of progress was made at the climate conference in Copenhagen last December, and her organization hopes the G8 can help keep the momentum going.
"The G8 has the largest historical emissions in terms of climate change and that's a very high level of responsibility," she added.