Canada will need to offer global leadership as host of G8 in 2010

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Canada will need to offer global leadership as host of G8 in 2010 to deliver results on unfinished business from this year's G8. This year’s G8, while there was some progress, didn’t fully deliver on promises to the world’s poorest, in part because of weak leadership by Italy, the host nation.

Host countries of G8 meetings have a lot of say in setting the tone of each meeting. That means Canadians will have to push the government to do more for the poor next year when we host the G8.

Public pressure on the G8 leaders this year led them to restate their key commitments from the past few years. It also made the G8 take efforts to improve their accountability. Input from civil society groups was incorporated into the accountability framework they adopted.This is a step forward because it means promises made at the G8 will be a bit more likely to be kept in the future.

Without the strong public pressure, it is unlikely modest new initiatives to help ensure food security and deal with the growing problem of hunger would have been agreed upon.

Canada will now have to step up to the challenge and make sure the G8 delivers on its past promises which come due in 2010. And it needs to make sure it follows through on the unfinished business from this G8 on child and maternal health, water and sanitation, education and climate change adaptation and mitigation.

Prime Minister Harper, at the press conference he gave on the final day of the G8, boasted about Canada keeping its commitments on doubling aid to Africa and argued against the G8 making new promises until it has delivered on past ones.

Canada, while on track to fulfill the doubling aid to Africa pledge made in 2005, is still in a weak moral position to provide global leadership unless it commits to a timetable to reach the UN aid target of 0.7% of national income.

Many other countries have either already achieved or have timetables to achieve the 0.7% target by 2015. And Canada stands at only 16th out of 22 donor countries in terms of the aid we give as a percentage of our national income.

The Prime Minister also needs to acknowledge that with the global economic crisis, climate change and the food crisis reversing the progress that has been made on global poverty reduction, simply keeping past commitments is not good enough. We need to have much more ambitious goals of getting the world back on track to achieve the Millennium Development Goals by 2015.

More is demanded of us by the poor in the world today.

For this to happen, we will need to engage Canadians in an unprecedented way, and mount a huge campaign for Canada to be a leader again on the world stage in tacking global poverty and the threat of climate change. I hope I can count on your support.

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