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Environmental, Campaign & Website News > G8 Pledges to Back Sustainability, Fight Terror

G8 Pledges to Back Sustainability, Fight Terror

Date : 1st July 2002, Source : ENS



KANANASKIS, Alberta, Canada, June 27, 2002 (ENS) - Leaders of the world's eight major industrialized democracies concluded their two day meeting here pledging to cooperate in fighting terrorism, strengthening global economic growth and sustainable development, and building a new partnership for Africa's development.

The first summit meeting of the G8 leaders since the terrorist strikes of September 11 was held at a location high in the Canadian Rockies, a location remote enough to hold protesters at bay and surrounded by military encampments to provide tight security.

This year, for the first time, Russia was admitted to full membership in the group and will host the G8 Summit in 2006.

Presidents Bush and Putin pledged a united front against terrorism today as they began a bilateral meeting in Kananaskis. Putin "has been a stalwart in the fight against terror," Bush said. "He understands the threat of terror because he has lived through terror."

Putin said that he and Bush have "very good personal relations" and that the interaction between Russia and the United States "is becoming very efficient, not only from the viewpoint of bilateral relations and solving bilateral issues, but also as regards to resolution of major international problems." The G8 leaders met also with the Presidents of four African nations - President Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria, President Olusegun Obasanjo of Nigeria, President Abdoulaye Wade of Senegal, President Thabo Mbeki of South Africa, and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to discuss the challenges faced by Africa and the G8's response to the New Partnership for Africa's Development.

In a summary issued late today by Prime Minister Chretien as G8 Summit Chair, the leaders declared their agreement on a set of six non-proliferation principles aimed at "preventing terrorists, or those who harbor them, from acquiring or developing nuclear, chemical, radiological and biological weapons, missiles, and related materials, equipment or technologies."

They launched a new cooperative G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction and agreed to raise up to US$20 billion to support these projects over the next 10 years.

They agreed on a new initiative with "clear deadlines" known as Cooperative G8 Action on Transport Security - to strengthen the security and efficiency of the global transportation system. The G8 countries will cooperate to more closely inspect all cargo containers and in the use of biometric technologies to identify international travelers.

Support for the upcoming World Summit on Sustainable Development set to open in South Africa in two months was woven through the text of all G8 declarations. "We agreed," the leaders said, to "work at the upcoming Johannesburg Summit to produce meaningful partnerships for sustainable development and measurable results." "We recognized that climate change is a pressing issue that requires a global solution, and we discussed the problem of deforestation," they stated in one of the few specific references to the environment in the chair's summary.

Citizens' groups who are gathered in nearby Calgary to develop and publicize their positions on G8 issues are urging Canada to join the European countries and Japan in ratifying the Kyoto climate protocol.

At the University of Calgary the Global Six Billion (G6B) gathering from June 21 to 25 produced a set of recommendations for the G8 leaders that were delivered to them in Kananaskis. In a statement from the environment workshop, the G6B said, "For North America, unconditional ratification of the Kyoto Accord is an important first step to G8 countries recognizing that there are global ecological limits. Environmental policy must include scientific findings and the impacts of all organisms - including humans - surrounding environmental damage."

Canada and the United States are the only G8 countries that have not ratified the treaty to limit the emission of six greenhouse gases linked to global warming or declared their intention to do so.


The African Connection

The African leaders attended this year's G8 Summit to forge links based on the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD) a pledge by African leaders to the people of Africa to consolidate democracy and sound economic management, and to promote peace, security and people-oriented development.

The G8 leaders responded with their own Africa Action Plan designed, they said, "to encourage the imaginative effort that underlies the NEPAD and to lay a solid foundation for future cooperation." NEPAD is based on an all African peer review system created to avoid the a repeat of failed attempts to solve Africa's ecnomic and environmental problems that have foundered on the rocks of conflict and corruption.

The African peer-review process is "an innovative and potentially decisive element in the attainment of the objectives of the NEPAD," the G8 leaders recognized, that "will inform our considerations of eligibility for enhanced partnerships." "We will not work with governments which disregard the interests and dignity of their people," they affirmed.

Yet, the G8 leaders said they will not limit their humanitarian assistance to the NEPAD approved countries. "As a matter of strong principle," they said, "our commitment to respond to situations of humanitarian need remains universal and is independent of particular regimes."

African countries that meet the NEPAD criteria could get "in aggregate half or more" of the US$12 billion a year in new overseas development assistance funding by 2006 announced at Monterrey, Mexico in March, the G8 leaders declared today.

The leaders pledged to support African efforts to resolve the principal armed conflicts on the continent, specifically in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Sudan and consolidate peace in Angola and Sierra Leone.

The G8 will work jointly "to monitor and address the illegal exploitation and international transfer of natural resources from Africa which fuel armed conflicts, including mineral resources, petroleum, timber and water," the leaders agreed.

Support for regional management of trans-boundary natural resources, including the Congo Basin Initiative and trans-border river basin commissions, is part of the African plan.

The G8 supports "voluntary principles of corporate social responsibility by those involved in developing Africa's national resources," they said, and "better accountability and greater transparency with respect to those involved in the import or export of Africa's natural resources from areas of conflict."

The G8 leaders promised to provide "technical and financial assistance" so that, by 2010 African countries and regional groups can prevent and resolve violent conflict on their own.


Help for the Poorest Countries

The G8 leaders agreed to cooperate towards lifing the debts of the most heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) to a greater extent than is happening today. Under a 1999 initiative, 26 countries are benefiting from debt relief that will amount to US$40 billion in net present value terms - almost two-thirds of their total debt. As many as 37 countries are expected eventually to benefit from debt reduction under the initiative.

But, the leaders acknowledged, not all creditors have agreed to reduce their HIPC debts; the expected financing needs of the initiative have not been fully met; and due to weaker growth and export commodity prices, some countries could be at risk of not having sustainable debt loads at the completion point of the initiative.

To solve these problems, the leaders agreed to call on the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank to provide extensive creditor information and work with creditor financial institutions to get them involved in the debt relief initiative.


Citizens Respond

These commitments fall short of what the citizens forum called for. The G6B urged "the actualization of 100 percent debt cancellation for impoverished nations without further delays and without harmful World Bank and IMF conditions." They asked that the leaders adopt "binding legislation to ensure that multi-national corporations are penalized for violation of international agreements and conventions on the environment, human rights, indigenous peoples and workers rights." Gerry Barr, president of the Canadian Council for International Cooperation, told a gathering of nongovernmental organizations in Calgary today that he and colleagues calculated the "takeaway money" for Africa from the G8 Summit at US$800 million in one way or another.

NEPAD has not been extensively debated or endorsed in African countries, says Barr. "If a real partnership is to exist, not just one between the leaders of Africa and the G8, but also one including African citizens, then Africans must be consulted on issues central to their lives."

NEPAD will not be introduced to most African leaders for another two weeks, said one Kenyan speaker, who found it inappropriate that such an important program be first presented to the leaders of non-African countries.

Speakers from other citizens groups said the G8 declarations were either more of the status quo or a step backward with regard to debt relief.

The killing of a one-year old black bear that sought food Monday night in a military camp near the site of the Kananaskis G8 has drawn angry criticism from Canadian conservation groups.

A team of Alberta Environment wildlife experts was called in and fired a sound signaling device known as a bear banger to scare the bear away. It fell from the tree and was badly injured, so the wildlife team shot it dead.

"This is exactly why, since day one, we’ve been saying that holding a meeting of this nature in a remote, wilderness area is inappropriate," said Stephen Legault, Executive director of Wildcanada.net.

The Alberta Environment wildlife team has been responding to a dozen calls a day to resolve conflicts between security officials and area wildlife.

There were uneventful, peaceful protests in Calgary and Ottawa during the week, in contrast to violent clashes with police at the G8 meeting in Genoa, Italy last year during which a protester lost his life. In Ottawa, today, the march degenerated into a group session of taking clothes off and taking photos. One observer commented, "The few acts of militancy, like paintballs and smashing of a police car window, were met with confused looks and even jeers from the demonstrators themselves. Over a thousand protesters climbed onto the lawn of the Capitol to giggle and cheer as only 40 cops looked on them with expressions of boredom."

Citizens who caravaned out to get as close to Kananaskis as they could caused little disturbance, and there were no arrests at the Kananaskis meeting site, security officials report.





Document last updated on Tuesday 30 August 2011

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