Leaders of the G8 developed nations wound up talks in Italy Friday
with a pledge of $20 billion to boost food supplies in poor nations.
Commitments to food security and to stem global warming were among the
highlights of the meeting.
U.S. President Barack Obama said
this was a summit of consensus - on dealing with the global economic
crisis, climate change, on nuclear non-proliferation, on Iran - and a
pledge to help achieve food security for the poorest countries.
have committed $20 billion in food security, agricultural development
programs to help fight world hunger. This is in addition to emergency
humanitarian aid that we provide," he said.
The U.N. Food and
Agriculture Organization welcomed the announcement, as an "encouraging
policy shift to help the poor and hungry.
Many international aid
organizations are cautiously positive. Development activist Kumi Naido
of the Global Campaign Against Hunger, remains skeptical until more
details of the plan become clear.
"We would see this as a
belated small step in the right direction. How much of it is in the
right direction will depend on the details because one of the favorite
pastimes of the G8 is recycling old commitments and one of the things
our researchers are looking at now is whether this is in fact a
restating of old commitments," said Naido.
Aid organizations have been calling on the G8 to live up to past pledges of food and development assistance.
L'Aquila summit also focused on climate change. G8 leaders and partners
from major emerging economies, including India, China and Brazil,
agreed that global temperatures should not rise by more than an average
of two degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels.
also pledged to work toward an 80 percent cut in greenhouse gas
emissions by the year 2050. While developing nations have committed
themselves to negotiating cuts, they have not yet agreed on specifics.
President Obama called it a historic consensus, but acknowledged it was only a first step with major work still ahead.
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the 2050 targets are too far in the
future and that more needs to be done sooner. Many aid and
environmental groups also say progress is too little and too slow.
Meredith Alexander of the international group, ActionAid, says developed nations can and should do more.
nice that they referenced the 2-degree figure in their statement, but
it's really not enough. G8 leaders and other rich countries need to be
putting more money on the table and they need to be accepting much
deeper cuts," said Alexander.
This G8 summit took place, not in
a major world capital or plush resort, but rather in central Italy, in
an area devastated by a powerful earthquake just three months ago, in
which nearly 300 people were killed. Many of the world leaders visited
some of the worst hit areas.
And, there was much talk about the
continued relevance of the G8 - a group originally established in 1975
to include then the world's six most developed economies. Some of the
leaders here in L'Aquila, including President Obama agreed that other
nations must be brought in and reforms made. Many say it has become
evident that while the G8 still represents some of the world's most
powerful countries, they alone cannot solve global problems - not
without the help of others.