G8 focus on economic crisis, climate change and food security

The international economic crisis, climate change and food security were the issues on which the G8 leaders focused in the first day’s proceedings at the L’Aquila Summit. The Group of Eight (G8, and formerly the G6 or Group of Six) is a forum, created by France in 1975, for governments of eight nations of the northern hemisphere: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States; in addition, the European Union is represented within the G8, but cannot host or chair.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has held a press conference at which he gave an initial summing up, thanking the eight world leaders “for making their contribution to what has turned into the capital of grief” and announced that another G8, devoted “to the most technologically advanced systems for addressing natural calamities” would be held in Abruzzo’s capital before the year was out.

On the Summit’s first day, which began with a tribute to the earthquake victims, the G8 leaders adopted a joint stance on the climate change issue to be submitted to the forum extended to take in the G5 countries tomorrow. “Europe and the United States are in favour of cutting carbon dioxide emissions and will adopt a united stance vis-à-vis the emerging economies with a view to arriving at a pledge into which everyone must enter,” Mr. Berlusconi said. The date of the agreement’s entry into force was still under discussion, the prime minister reported.

The leaders had also discussed the economic crisis with a view to “sending out a message of confidence,” Mr. Berlusconi explained, voicing the conviction that “the worst of the crisis is behind us now.” “There are signs of improvement everywhere,” he added, so it was “important to keep up support for the banking system, manufacturing firms and the people who have lost their jobs.” The G8 had made strides ahead towards the drafting of a joint system of rules for the global economy, a process that would be continued by the Pittsburgh G20.

The eight World Leaders had also addressed issues such as development and food security during the first two work sessions of the day, reviewing the pledges given at previous summits. Prime Minister Berlusconi said that Italy would honour its pledges to the African countries before the year was out. Mr. Berlusconi took the view that there had to be a change in the methods of giving aid to Africa, introducing “funding that goes to the implementation of specific projects” and “reporting mechanisms” making it possible to monitor what had been done and what remained to be done.

Mr. Berlusconi also gave an account of the visits by Angela Merkel, Barack Obama and Dmitry Medvedev to the sites symbolising the earthquake at the press conference and cited the reconstruction work on “the world’s biggest building site, on which a 6,500-strong labour force is at work,” the aim being to give 15,000 people new homes by the end of November.

Source: G8 Summit 2009

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