The G8 Summit closed yesterday and I’m already back in Tokyo which feels a bit strange. The final day was once again busy but interesting… The G8 Chair’s summary was released by Prime Minister Fukuda of Japan, and leaders of the G8 held their press conferences. Meanwhile, we delivered our final verdict on the Summit – Bob Geldof was our unofficial ‘spokesperson’ for the day and he really worked hard to get the message out, being interviewed by journalists from as far afield as Russia and the Middle East as well as the more usual suspects.
The media centre thinned out early evening – leaders had headed back home, and many journalists and organisations followed suit. Others were headed for beers, including us! The NGOs had a small get-together at the canteen nearby – it was such a relief to stop for a moment and bond over drinks and food with our friends and colleagues.
Some were celebrating victories, while others were outraged by the result. We can however all claim at least one important albeit small victory – the media coverage of civil society opinions and activities at the G8 this year has been very high, which we didn’t really anticipate. Especially in Japan, where advocacy is still a new concept and NGOs have struggled to be recognized as a credible voice. Hokkaido has been different in this respect – major media outlets have all carried stories and news articles on these ‘outside’ opinions daily. It’s not without problems of course – the Japanese government has refused entry of at least 19 activists into the country – but this year highlighted that NGOs are now established as an integral part of the G8 Summit process and that our voices really do matter.
ONE’s final verdict was that the “G8 post small gains to the poorest, but little that’s new.” While there was some progress, much more needs to be done if the G8 countries are serious about achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDG), an internationally agreed set of goals that if delivered could save millions of lives.
There’s been lots of chatter here from leaders and activists alike about the UN Special Summit on the MDGs coming up in late September. We hope this moment will provide a stocktake of the current situation and set a clear path for achieving the MDGs. Bob Geldof has already expressed that this will be his next focus and we are right behind him!
One final sliver of good news from the closing day was the commitment for Africa and development to be on the agenda at next year’s G8 in Italy. It will be on the final day which we hope will give us even more time to ramp the pressure up alongside our NGO colleagues. But this work isn’t about one meeting, we will be working hard through the year to ensure that extreme poverty remains top of political agendas. My hope is that if we keep chipping away the world will see fewer people living in poverty or suffering from curable, treatable diseases in a year’s time. For now, we’ll keep fighting!
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