Promises: how gr8 is the G8?

As the G8 Summit convenes in Canada this weekend, there comes a time for reflection and accountability. In fact accountability is the theme for a publication – “The Muskoka Accountability Report takes stock of recent G-8 commitments related to development, assesses the results of G-8 actions and identifies lessons for future reporting.” The report explains that …

In 2005, at the Gleneagles Summit and the United Nations Millennium +5 Summit,G8 countries and the world’s major aid donors made commitments to increase Official Development Assistance (ODA). Based on these specific commitments, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) estimated that ODA from all OECD-Development Assistance Committee (DAC) bilateral donors would increase by around $50 billion a year by 2010, compared to 2004.

behind-each-dollar.jpgThe Muskoka Report notes that ODA increased from $80 billion to $120 billion, with $24 billion coming from G8 countries. But it also explains that this $10 billion shortfall is actually $18 billion in 2004 dollar value. The report notes the following health accomplishments:

  • G8 contributions account for $12.2 billion or 78 percent of the total contributions to the Global Fund
  • G8 is on track to provide over 100 million insecticide-treated nets
    by 2010
  • For the period 2005 to 2009 G8 funding to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative was $1.68 billion

Although the dollar amounts seem large, the Washington Post reports from Toronto that, “Canada announced on Friday a multibillion-dollar initiative to combat infant mortality and improve maternal health globally, but the aid package was far smaller than expected, undercut by a new drive toward austerity that reduced the contributions of wealthy nations.”

An expected package of $10 billion from the G8 may turn out to be only $7.3 billion. “… the plan highlighted how world economic dynamics have made a sudden lurch toward less government spending.”

Oxfam has called the contribution gap between 2005 promised and 2010 realities a ‘bounced check‘ that undermines the G8’s credibility. Maybe this is an accounting trick, suggests Oxfam:

Oxfam also decried the G8’s attempt in their own accountability report to minimize their breach of faith by using 2009 dollars instead of 2004 dollars for the calculation and deducting for lower growth, thus showing only a $10 billion shortfall.

Oxfam calls on the G8 to show the “political will and leadership that at least equals that we saw at Gleneagles.” This involves not only acknowledging that the gap is nearly double the apparent dollar value, but also taking steps to close it.

Save the Children recommends that the Muskoka Summit recommit to funding, but that these “Governments need to do better at the September U.N. Summit on the Millennium Development Goals .” The President of Save the Children observed that while the G8 and upcoming G20 leaders are worried about economic stability …

… both the leaders and the public should understand that global economic growth can never be balanced if the world doesn’t address the tragic circumstances surrounding birth and early life in much of the developing world. Without decisive action, the social costs of global economic downturns will only hit harder and last longer.

The BBC reports today that, “World leaders are due to focus on the nuclear disputes with Iran and North Korea on the second day of the G8 summit in Canada.” Maybe they will eventually come to the realization that global poverty is also a problem for all. As BBC notes, “Mr Obama has called for the group to pull together to promote economic growth, saying that world economies are ‘inextricably linked’.”

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