Based on this commitment in Gleneagles, Italy should increase its ODA to sub-Saharan Africa from €1 billion ($1.392 billion) in 2004 to €3.838 billion ($5.345 billion) in 2010.
Statement from head of state
‘You are right: when a commitment is underwritten, then it must be kept and fulfilled. We are late, and must catch up with our pledges. I am sorry we did not respect our promises, we are sorry we reduced aid to Africa, and for this reason we have opened a debate within the government. The Finance Minister, Mr Tremonti, has pledged to bring Italy back in line with its commitments during the next three years. After the G8, with the budget for 2010, I’ll work on the recovery plan to do just that. Italy will reach 0.33 by 2010, and we will get to 0.51 by 2013.’
PRIME MINISTER SILVIO BERLUSCONI INTERVIEW WITH BOB GELDOF FOR LA STAMPA, JULY 2009
In 2009, the year of its G8 presidency, Italy’s ODA to sub- Saharan Africa fell by €238 million ($331 million). Since Gleneagles, Italy has cut ODA to the region by €169 million ($235 million). This means that it has delivered -6% of its commitment. Italy is not expected to salvage this situation in 2010. ONE estimates 2010 levels of ODA to be the same as those in 2009. Further, there is little evidence of a proposed recovery plan to re-establish progress towards a new global target of 0.51% by 2013.
Italy provided leadership as the 2009 G8 host in prioritising agriculture on the G8’s agenda. However, it has made minimal progress in improving its aid quality and also has not paid its 2009 commitment to the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, raising concerns that it will become the first country to outright default on a Global Fund pledge. Italy is also not on track to meet its commitments to cancel debt to the world’s poorest countries, and like the rest of the G8 is failing to deliver on its commitment to 'make trade work for Africa'.
Italy’s abysmal performance in 2009 occurred while the country was under close international scrutiny as President of the G8, which culminated with the L’Aquila Summit. At the summit, President Berlusconi reiterated his pledge towards the Gleneagles target. In an exclusive interview with ONE’s Bob Geldof on 5 July 2009, he also committed to achieving – admittedly belatedly – a figure of 0.51% of GNI by 2013, and sketching a ‘recovery plan’. However, evidence of implementation of this plan is yet to be seen.
It is unfortunate that there was nothing in the aftermath of the summit that could justify any optimism with respect to the radical change of direction and pace needed in Italy’s ODA contributions. On the contrary, its 2010 budget does not contain any provision that would markedly alter this stagnating trajectory, leaving the country far from achieving the goals it claims to be committed to. Further, Italy’s poor performance has hindered the EU from reaching its collective 0.56% target for 2010 and brought the G7 performance on ODA from 75% down to 61%.
Although it is clear that Italy will miss the 2010 targets by a wide margin, it is essential that it launches an immediate convergence programme – a Gleneagles recovery package – in order to recover from its unacceptably low current levels of aid delivery. In the absence of such visible effort, there is no other solution than for Italy’s peers to exclude it from the G8, given its by now unmistakable lack of commitment to – and its effective ‘free-riding’ on – the jointly agreed international development goals.
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