TOPICS : G8: A mountain of wishes waits

When the leaders of seven western industrial democracies and Russia gather for their meetings July 7-9 in Toyako on the northern island of Hokkaido, a mountain of wishes tabled by a multitude of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) from around the world would have piled up before them. It is unlikely that they would be in a position to fulfil those wishes. As Andrew Cooper, head of the Centre for International Governance Innovation at Waterloo University in Canada concluded in a recent report, the G8 (Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Russia, Canada, Japan and the United States) was not set up to be the important international body it has become.

“The structure of the G8, designed to make its members look good and seem co-operative, and avoid the intense debates that might lead to real progress, conspires against its success,” says Cooper. Among the organisations that has tabled a set of wishes for the G8 is the world’s largest and most representative multi-religious coalition, ‘Religions for Peace’. It is asking the G8 “to take bold action to address the threats that confront humanity, including the destruction of the environment, extreme global poverty and deteriorating food security, nuclear arms, terrorism and violent conflict.”

The call was issued following the World Religious Leaders Summit for Peace July 2-3 in Sapporo, capital of the island prefecture of Hakkaido. Representatives of major faith traditions, including Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism, Jainism, Judaism and Islam attended the summit. “We must draw attention to the link between the health of the environment and war,” the Very Rev. Leonid Kishkovsky, Moderator of Religions for Peace said in a call to action to Japan’s PM Yasuo Fukada.

“Terrorism is never morally justified whether it is perpetrated by individuals, groups or states,” said Dr William F. Vendley, Secretary General of Religions for Peace. He called on the G8 to cooperate with religious leaders to address the problems of terrorism and violent conflict. In yet another move to influence G8 decisions, Friends of the Earth International Climate and Energy Coordinator Joseph Zacune said: “The G8 meeting is being promoted as an opportunity to address global warming but G8 nations are promoting policies such as World Bank climate funds and carbon trading for forests that will damage the environment, and harm developing countries that are least responsible for climate change.

“G8 countries have benefited economically by exploiting fossil fuels across the planet for the past 250 years and they must live up to their historical and current responsibilities by radically cutting their own emissions and supporting developing countries and communities’ efforts to reduce their emissions and adapt to climate change,” he added.Campaigners and community leaders will be protesting and speaking out during the G8 Summit against the World Bank’s launch of its climate investment funds, which are being supported by the US, Britain and Japan. — IPS