Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Tuesday, 8 July 2008
And here it is, the G8 statement on Africa and Development. The collective wisdom and energy of the 7 most powerful men - and the world’s most powerful woman - on the continent’s development.
And what does it say?
Not a lot. Certainly not enough to satisfy the hundreds of thousands of campaigners who demanded a global action plan to provide sanitation and water for all. And certainly not enough for the 2.6 billion people around the world who have no safe place to go to the toilet.
To be fair, there are some positives – sanitation and water have been discussed at the top table for the first time in 5 years. They recognised it as central to improving health and development, acknowledged the need to accelerate efforts to meet the millennium development goals and started a process which will be reviewed at next year’s G8.
But really, lets not get too excited. Imagine if you were one of the world’s most powerful people (maybe you are, if so call me). Imagine you were discussing ways to stop kids dying with your 7 extremely powerful pals. Imagine you knew that poor sanitation probably kills more children every year than any other cause. What would you do?
• Issue a statement that provides almost no concrete commitments – and no money - to deliver more taps and toilets to the world’s poor?
• Set up a working group to report in 1 year (by which time 2.4 million children will have died from poor sanitation), based on implementing a failed plan agreed 5 years ago?
• Actively veto suggestions made by your powerful friends that might actually improve the health of 40% of world’s population?
If last night you ate a meal with 18-24 dishes (depending on which paper you read) then you might well have done all of the above.
In many ways we’ve forward since the 2007 G8, when neither water nor sanitation got a look in. We have a platform to go forward to the UN meeting in September. But is this pace of change, this level of ambiguity, this lack of money really acceptable to someone living in a slum next an open sewer, sharing 1 insanitary toilet with hundreds of other people?
Messrs Brown, Burlosconi, Bush, Fukuda, Harper, Merkel, Medvedev and Sarkozy: what do you think?
And whilst we’re at it, leaders of Africa: is this what you were looking for?
For the official response, read the End Water Poverty press release
Read the G8 communique on Africa and development
Back on earth, at the G8 summit, coverage of yesterday's outreach with African countries focused largely on Zimbabwe, although water and sanitation was raised alongside the food crisis as priority areas by the African leaders. Other hot topics around the summit appear to be the food crisis, oil prices, the state of the world economy, climate change and fears of backtracking on previous aid and HIV commitments.
(as i write this the documents on the world economy have been released)
As we get closer to the main announcement on Africa - probably happening late this afternoon (Japan time) - it has become increasingly clear how negotiations have watered down proposals on tackling the water and sanitation crisis. Comparing leaked drafts of the G8 communique dated before and after key negotiation meeting shows how proposals to establish an annual review and meeting to drive global progress were vetoed.
We'll have to see what comes out in the end but brace yourselves for ambiguity. On the one hand there will be positive recognition of the issue's importance and some hope for future processes. But on the other, don't expect a detailed action plan to end the crisis once and for all - or access to the G8 bank account - just yet... I'm more likely to be flying to the moon to fix a toilet.
Monday, 7 July 2008
Welcome to my End Water Poverty G8 blog, coming straight at you from rain-soaked Hokkaido, where I will be reporting back on the global circus that is the G8 summit. As 7 men and 1 woman luxuriate by Lake Toyako, putting the world to rights, deciding the fate of billions of people across the world, this intrepid but bleary-eyed correspondent will endeavour to keep you informed and updated.
7th July 0600 GMT, Hokkaido, Japan
The G8 officially kicks off today, with its day of 'African outreach' - whereby heads of 8 African states are invited to join the party. Whilst there will be a drip feed of news and rumour, as as a press conference, the bigger statements on Africa, climate change and the world economy are expected on Tuesday and Wednesday.
So as the jamboree starts, what do we expect to happen? A lot of words and back-slapping for sure. But concrete action to deliver for the 40% of the world's population who have no access to safe sanitation? Hmmm not if current rumours and intelligence are anything to go by...
Newly leaked drafts of the G8 communique show how commitments have been watered down in negotiations, with few commitments and even fewer measurable actions.
So clearly there is quite a fight ahead at this summit and beyond to get agreement on a genuinely ambitious global plan of action on sanitation and water, but at least now we have made it to the battlefield...
In other news, WaterAid launched a new report today, detailing evidence showing that poor sanitation may be the biggest killer children in the world today. Accounting for a quarter of all child deaths, the lack of a safe place to go the toiled could be killing 2.4 million children every year.
So a question for Frau Merkel, Monsieur Sarkozy and friends - which of you are blocking measures to stop this public health scandal, and what are you thinking?
For more information about End Water Poverty, visit www.endwaterpoverty.org
Thursday, 3 July 2008
End Water Poverty campaign coordinator Steve Cockburn will be writing a daily blog live from the G8 meeting in Japan. You can read his first entry on Monday 7 July.
As hosts of the 2008 G8 Summit, the Government of Japan have led the G8 by committing to putting water and sanitation on the summit agenda - a step warmly welcomed by End Water Poverty campaigners. Yet fears remain that this crucial opportunity may be lost if leaders fail to take concerted action.
End Water Poverty are calling on leaders to agree a global action plan on water and sanitation, including a commitment that every country will have enough money to deliver the 'taps and toilets' needed to provide life and dignity to their citizens.
Steve Cockburn (pictured, right) will be sending daily reports from the Summit in Japan, so do come back next week to find out whether the demands of the End Water Poverty coalition are addressed at the Summit.