Well, I thought the last day of the G8 Summit might be ending on just a slightly brighter note than the first. The buzz all week was that the leaders of the rich world would ante up $15 billion in food aid and development money. Then a few hours before the final wrap, we heard it was $20 billion...still short of the $30 billion the FAO says is needed, but the news certainly went down well amongst the civil society people here. But when the actual statement came out, it was yet another indigestible fudge. The bold italics below are textbook examples of how to look good without actually doing anything...yet.
"We will aim at substantially increasing aid to agriculture and food security including through multiyear resource commitments. In this respect, we welcome the commitments made by countries represented at L'Aquila towards a goal of mobilizing $20 billion over three years."
This is fundraising for the hungry not real help yet. But calm down Kelly, and give them a chance to make it happen. At his wrap-up news conference today, Prime Minister Harper spoke with real feeling about the 100 million more who are hungry -- maybe he'll mobilize that money fast enough to prevent thousands more deaths. In fact, the analysis in the statement is pretty good...no one can say they don't understand the problem. I like to think the NGOs who've explained the problem to them so patiently again and again, can take a little credit for that. You can read the whole document on the G8 website. Scroll down and click on L'Aquila Joint Statement on Food Security under July 10 and it will open a PDF.
If you want to see a good TV story on the world's hungry, tune in to Brian Stewart's six-minute report on The National on Wed. Stewart knows world hunger -- his coverage of the Ethiopian Famine in the 1980's was sterling.
And here's a Globe and Mail story by Eric Reguly, written before the announcement, it's a very good summary of the situation.
As Dennis Howlett, Make Poverty History's Coordinator says "All this means, we Canadians really have our work cut out for us as we now head on a journey to the G8 2010 in Canada. We simply have to keep the pressure up on our leaders to make Canada take leadership in the elimination of world poverty."
On that front, you can rest assured you'll be hearing a whole lot more from us.
Meantime, arrivederci from a disappointing G8.
Kelly Crichton is Media Co-ordinator at Make Poverty History.