Day 2 of the G8 Summit, and it was a key day for the G8 as well as for ONE. A very early start saw, our friend Bob Geldof and a couple of my ONE colleagues meet Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the UK, President George W. Bush of the U.S., Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, as well as top level government officials from other G8 countries to give a last push to agree something big and meaningful for the problems in African and other developing countries. This was our last chance – an agreement on it was due to be reached by the afternoon.
In the afternoon, the ONE team, other NGOs, media, and Bob (in between his busy afternoon of media interviews) all waited with great anticipation for the G8 Summit statements to start coming forward. Apparently, this year was unusual in that the statements were being released to us topic by topic. The first came in the early afternoon, and it was an agreement on the World Economy, followed by a statement on the Environment.
Then, at around 5pm, the agreement on Development and Africa and the statement on Global Food Security were finally released. It was war against time after that – a number of possible outcomes had already been anticipated, and we had been sharing our positions according to different scenarios with our NGO colleagues by then. So when the agreement was finally out, our team all went silent for a few minutes to read the agreements – word by word, then a quick chat with our NGO colleagues, followed by a relatively brief but meaningful conference call with our colleagues in London and in (very early) Washington to finalise our position. We had to get the press release on our reaction out quickly to the media, so that they could include it with their news article on the agreement.
An hour later, when I finished going around the media centre handing out the press release, I finally took a deep breath. As a first timer to the G8 Summit, the whole intensity of it was very new to me.
The outcomes were mixed. A few countries are showing genuine commitment and leadership – the US, UK and Germany, but others are letting the side down. There were a few new stepping stones that we hope will make it even more likely they will deliver on their important promises – a commitment to provide critically needed health workers; 100 million anti-malaria bednets which should save hundreds of thousand of lives; and acceptance that as a group they must be more accountable, highlighting education and water as focus areas. (You can read our press release on the G8 outcomes here).
I have to say, it was personally one of the most interesting days that I’ve had. I felt a real buzz in me to be at the core of where the information of today’s global news was being gathered and honored to represent ONE. It’s just such a shame that none of us felt a true buzz regarding the G8 summit agreement itself…