From June 25 to June 26, leaders from eight of the “major advanced economies” in the world will converge for the G8 Summit in Canada to discuss important matters. PM Harper from Canada said this year’s Summit will focus on “key challenges related to development, and international peace and security.” All priority issues for the Summit – development, the health of mothers,/newborns/children, food security, Africa, and peace/security – relate to water and sanitation.
The Canadian G8 Website states that health issues “will be accomplished by helping developing countries strengthen their health systems and improve access to: health care, trained health workers, family planning, attended childbirth, better nutrition, clean drinking water and sanitation, and the means to prevent and treat diseases, such as HIV/AIDS, malaria, pneumonia and diarrhoea.”
One problem with past G8 Summits is the difficulty of deciphering what has been discussed during the private meetings and how this information will ‘trickle down’ to policies in both participating and non-participating nations. One group, called the G8 Research Group, is working to provide more information on proceedings of G8 Summits. Maybe this year they will cover some of the discussions on water and sanitation? Their website states:
“Unlike other multilateral meetings, leaders at the G8 Summit meet privately behind closed-doors; there are no aides or intermediaries and there are few scripts or protocols. The decisions made by the G8 have global ramifications and the reach and scope of its influence in the world cannot be denied.”
Still, each year, G8 Summits provide an opportunity for civil-society organizations to coalesce and urge respective governments to talk about issues that matter to them. A number of groups are focusing on water and sanitation at the G8 in 2010. Interaction, a coalition of 180 NGOs working to alleviate global poverty, has prepared a brief on water and sanitation that calls for the US Government to be vocal on water and sanitation at the Summit.
Canadian organizations including UNICEF Canada and Care Canada and Plan Canada and RESULTS Canada and Save the Children Canada and World Vision Canada state that the Canadian Government should “…address preventive measures such as adequate diet through breastfeeding, nutritional supplementation/fortification and access to clean water and sanitation.”
And a G8 World Religions Summit of global religious leaders began yesterday at the University of Winnipeg. Leaders represent Christianity, Judaism, Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Islamic, Shinto and indigenous faiths. This alternative Summit will be aired live online here. They hosted a water-ceremony on the opening day of this alternative Summit. For more information on last year’s G8 Summit and water (and sanitation), please see this blog post. Updates on water and sanitation discussions at the Summit will be added as they become available.
UPDATE (29 July 2010):
On the 26th of June, leaders from G8 countries wrapped up the summit and issued a Declaration. They pledged support towards meeting Millennium Development Goals. They affirmed a common desire to achieve aid-effectiveness for development in Africa. They discussed the importance of meeting MDG 4 reducing child mortality and MDG 5 maternal health, but did not indicate water and sanitation as integral to such efforts anywhere in the main Declaration.
They launched the Muskoka Initiative to further progress on meeting MDGs 4 and 5 and linked this Initiative to MDGs 1 (childhood nutrition) and 6 (HIV/AIDS, malaria). They mentioned the importance of drinking water and sanitation once stating “relevant actions in the field of safe drinking water and sanitation” among other things are important towards meeting the aforementioned MDGs. But they did not identify a link between MDGs 4 and 5 to MDG No. 7 to halve the population without drinking water or sanitation.
Many NGOs including World Vision feel the Muskoka Initiative is under-funded with 5 billion pledged towards meeting these commitments with half of that amount from Canada). Here is a good review of different NGOs and their take on the Summit and subsequent Initiative.