As Canada prepares to host this year’s G8 summit in June, a new report shows how well G8 nations have kept their promises since last year’s meeting in Italy. Some promises were kept, while others remain unfulfilled, especially promises to developing nations.
The G8 Research Group has released its latest compliance report, covering the six-month period after the summit last July in L’Aquila, Italy. A second report will be released just before the summit in Muskoka, Canada.
Erin Fitzgerald, chair of the Toronto-based research group, says, “We select about 20 to 24 commitments every year. We look for commitments that represent a broad cross-section of the issues on the G8 agenda.”
The scores are based on allocation of resources and creation of new programs in complying with pledges made.
Making the grade
“Historically speaking, the top performer of the G8 countries has been the United Kingdom. And that is the same case this year. Their average compliance score was 0.63, which is reasonably high for the interim compliance report, where compliance tends to be a bit low,” she says.
Research shows compliance increases shortly before the next G8 summit.
Other high scorers include Japan and Canada, who both received a score of around 0.5. Japan edged out Canada for second place, a position Canada normally holds.
The United States’ interim score of 0.42 puts it in 4th place.
“This is sort of underperforming for them,” Fitzgerald says. “They typically have a slightly higher average interim compliance score. And they also typically end up being ranked about third. They dipped a little bit because Japan did so well this year.”
Italy usually scores the lowest in compliance reports and did so again this time, with a score of 0.21. Russia dipped a bit in the interim report.
The G8 Research Group Compliance Report looks at specific topics, such as Afghanistan and terrorism.
“Security commitments were fairly well scored actually this year. And they’re typically issues that receive the greatest amount of attention from the G8 countries when we look at these commitments,” she says.
The average commitment to Afghanistan received an “incredibly high score” of 0.89. Also, efforts to combat Somali piracy also received a great deal of attention.
“Terrorism was a little bit lower. The terrorism commitment we were look at was the Financial Action Task Force. We’re seeing full compliance from about half of the countries. The only outlier in terms of the security commitment…was the African peace support initiative,” she says.
Hot on climate change
“The climate change commitments were generally very strong this year, particularly in the issues of financing and research technology and development,” she says.
There was also high compliance with pledges for climate change mitigation efforts and forest degradation.
Last year, at the height of the global economic crisis, G8 leaders paid a lot of attention to the issue. That’s varied a bit since then.
“You saw some high scores in things like foreign direct investment and international financial institutions. But in terms of protectionist barriers, most countries instituted tariffs and protectionist barriers. So you saw incredibly low compliance in that area,” she says.
Critics of the G8 issue frequent reports on the failure of the rich nations to keep their promises. Fitzgerald says such criticisms will likely be heard again before the June summit.
“They talk quite a lot about official development assistance and aid effectiveness. And typically in that area the compliance in these commitments is the lowest. The commitments that they make are generally the same ones every year because they weren’t achieved the year before.