Innogen · News · August 23, 2006

The G8 one year on; an opportunity lost?: 936

Innogen associate James Smith and Clare Coughlan look back at the 2005 G8 Summit in Gleneagles and civil society’s mobilisation around the Summit and, drawing on experiences in Scotland and Mali, ask; what exactly has been achieved?

The quarter of a million people who converged on Edinburgh to highlight global poverty during the 2005 G8 Summit marked a re-awakening of a long-held Scottish interest in developing countries and development. The Scottish Executive, through its newly-formed International Development policy, is also supporting a range of activities in Africa, primarily Malawi.

Innogen, too, is playing a role.

We have close ties with the African Centre for Technology Studies and the Science and Technology Secretariat of the New Partnership for Africa's Development and have provided policy advice based on our research to several organisations concerned with development. Closer to home we have worked with the Scottish-based Doyle Foundation and James Smith of Innogen has worked with Oxfam Scotland and other NGOs. James also holds a grant from the Scottish Executive that aims to build research capacity in African higher education by supporting African academics to spend time at the University of Edinburgh developing their research and building long-term links. In this article, to be published in VIEW, he and a colleague reflect on Scotland's relationship to African development one year after the G8.

The G8 one year on; an opportunity lost?

July 2005 saw 225,000 people march through Edinburgh to protest the injustice of global poverty before the leaders of the world's richest and most powerful countries. Memorable scenes of a moving human white band encircling Edinburgh were followed by pronouncements from the G8 Summit of complete debt cancellation. Yet celebrations of a momentous triumph for civil society may have been rather hasty.

More than a year on, people on the ground in Mali, one of the 18 countries due to benefit immediately from the 2005 G8 debt deal, have seen no impact whatsoever of the promise to wipe out public debts owed to the IMF, World Bank and the African Development Fund. All three institutions have attempted to water down the deal and delay implementation: moves that have been monitored by Jubilee Scotland's G8 Debt Watch. It also seems that the `historic' Summit heralded no fundamental change in policy orientation.

The `new' G8 debt deal is open only to those governments that have already graduated from the Heavily Indebted Poor Country initiative, and have therefore already agreed to privatisation programmes and other conditions imposed by the IMF and World Bank...

This article is published in full in September's issue of 'View - The Policy Journal'