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L'Aquila Documents
Analytical Studies
> Analysis on L'Aquila Summit

The Performance of the G8 at L'Aquila 2009:
A Summit of Sound Success

John Kirton
Director, G8 Research Group
July 13, 2009

Appendix A: Kirton Grades for 2009
Appendix B: G8 Performance from 1975 to 2009
Appendix C: Summit Performance for 2009

Overview

The G8’s 2009 L’Aquila Summit was a solid success. It earned a grade of B, slightly above the long-term G8 summit average of B-, but below the previous summit’s performance of B+. L’Aquila’s solid success was led by its B+ achievements on climate, trade and G8 architecture, followed by B on democracy in Iran and a B- on food security and on the economy and finance. (see Appendix A) It thus largely lived up to the prospective potential it had generated through its preparatory process, as it met current global conditions on the summit’s eve (Kirton 2009).

Performance by Key Issues

Climate Change

On climate, the G8 clearly affirmed for the first time the revolutionary, fundamental principle that all major carbon-producing powers must control their carbon and reduce their emissions in the new climate control regime for the years ahead (Kirton and Boyce 2009). It agreed that the world’s temperature must never rise more than 2 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, that the world must reduce its emissions by 50% by 2050 and that the G8 with their developed world partners would lead by cutting theirs by 80% by that time. The leading emitters in the 17-member Major Economies Forum (MEF) agreed that developing countries would meaningfully reduce their emissions and endorsed the 2 degrees Celsius limit. But the emerging economies only promised to specify their long-term target soon, and did not agree to a global reduction of 50% by 2050 right away.

Trade and Investment

On trade, both the G8 and the G5 (Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa — constituting the “G13”), agreed to complete the long overdue Doha Development Agenda’s negotiations for multilateral trade liberalization by the end of 2010. To give credibility to their commitment, they agreed to skip the intermediate stage of defining modalities and move straight to the end game of specifying the actual reductions they would exchange. They also abandoned the existing mini-ministerial forums that had failed, asking their own trade ministers to meet before the G20 summit in Pittsburgh on September 24-25, 2009, at which time the leaders themselves would have another chance to act.

G8 Architecture

On G8 architecture, the G8 strengthened its internal operations and external credibility by putting in place the first serious process of accountability. It centred on identifying the meaning of the many commitments the G8 leaders collective made at L’Aquila and G8 members’ compliance with them. The G8 and G5 extended the Heiligendamm Process of officials-level structured dialogue among the G8 and the G5 as equals, by lengthening the operation for two years and renaming it the Heiligendamm L’Aquila Process (HAP). They broadened the mandate of the HAP to include any subject and to allow others to join on a case-by-case basis. They agreed that this increased inclusiveness would take place at “all levels” as well. The many widespread references to the G20 in the communiqués issued by the G8 and others at L’Aquila showed that leaders want the G20 to reinforce rather than compete with the G8, and that the G8 would continue to be the only source of leadership within and for the wider G20. Above all, the G8 and G13 repeatedly agreed in writing that the G8 summit would take place in France in 2011 — the right time and place for a new, now eight year, cycle of G8 summitry to begin.

Democracy

On democracy, the G8 leaders moved swiftly, in a unified and sophisticated fashion, to declare that they cared deeply about democracy within Iran as much as anywhere else (Kirton and Feinberg 2009). But the pre-summit statement by G8 host Silvio Berlusconi that the G8 was moving toward sanctions was followed by the release of all the locally engaged employees of the British embassy in Tehran whom the Iranians had arrested shortly before. With these “hostages” released, it was arguably appropriate and adequate for the G8, with Russia fully on board, to turn to diplomacy, at least until the G8 foreign ministers meet again in September at the United Nations to take stock. But to remind the world how bad the Iranian regime was, the G8 condemned Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as a Holocaust denier — and did so by name for the first time. It remains to be seen how much the forces of democracy in Iran will be reinforced by the G8’s actions at L’Aquila and beyond.

Food and Agriculture

On food security, long scheduled to be the summit’s concluding climax, the results were respectable, if a little lower than what expectations had been. The anticipated new funding to make most other elements in the food security package was not decided and declared in the summit statement, but reduced to a welcome for those who had contributed to a goal of mobilizing $20 billion over three years. Similarly general and elusive were the passages on increasing the percent of official development assistance for development, igniting a new green revolution and defining rules for those who would buy agricultural assets abroad. The specified links of agriculture to trade were appropriately substantial, but those to climate and health were fragile indeed.

Economy and Finance

On the economy and finance, the G8 added more of value than the past several summits have done. It sent a strong, clear signal that the emphasis should stay on stimulus, with both the G8 and G5 saying so in a unified voice. It also started the message on domestic financial regulation by declaring that the priority was to disclose and dispose of the bad assets that the big banks, largely in Europe, still had. The G13 also pre-eminently promised to prevent competitive currency devaluation, reducing the chances that the nightmare of the 1930s would return.

Other Issues

Elsewhere there were several disappointments. Little of serious substance was done on health, relative to recent summits and to the last one hosted by Silvio Berlusconi in Genoa in 2001. Moreover, on none of the key issues did the summit secure a grade in the A range. This was consistent with its character as a summit with a comprehensive agenda it advanced as a convoy rather than a focused summit making major advances on a few key fronts.

Performance by Key Governance Dimensions

This judgement of a solid performance is sustained by the evidence from L’Aquila’s record on the six major dimensions of governance appropriate to plurilateral summit-level institutions such as the G8, the G8+G5, the MEF and even the 40 assembled on L’Aquila’s final day (with the inclusion of the African leaders, the leaders of Egypt, the Netherlands, Spain and Turkey, and the heads of several international organizations) (see appendices B and C).

Domestic Political Management

On the first function of domestic political management, the summit worked well at home for its host. Italy’s media coverage was dominated by the summit’s activities, achievements and chair Berlusconi himself, rather than stories of the summit’s physical disorganization and its host’s social life featured by a few foreign media up to the summit’s start. The G8 leaders themselves were full of compliments for Italy and other members in their collective documents they released (see Appendix C).

Deliberation

L’Aquila’s deliberative performance was somewhat above average. The addition of a working session on the first afternoon gave G8 leaders more time together at the summit table than they had had at recent summits. Having them bunk in shared barracks on the summit’s military college grounds maximized the time they (and their delegations) had for spontaneous encounters in groups of two or more. U.S. president Barack Obama and Canada’s prime minister Stephen Harper took full advantage of this proximity and flexibility for a long walk together before the summit’s “family photo” took place.

The summit in its various numerical configurations issued ten documents in all, a number in keeping with the 21st-century norm. The 31,167 words these documents contained was the second highest in summit history, exceeded only by George Bush’s Sea Island Summit in 2004.

Direction Setting

The summit produced a solid performance in setting new normative directions based on the G8’s core mission of promoting open democracy and individual liberty in the world. Its 53 direct expressions of these values were in line with the long-term summit average, if well below that of recent years. Not surprisingly, a full 42 of these 53 direct references to democratic and human rights values came in the four documents issued on the first day, when the all democratic, popularly elected G8 leaders met alone.

Decision Making

L’Aquila’s decisional performance, as measured by its clear, future-oriented commitments, was strong. Its 251 commitments was the fourth highest in summit history and consistent with the 21st-century norm. The $21.1 billion it mobilized in new money, including $20 billion for a fund for food security, was well above average, dwarfed only by the Gleneagles Summit in 2005. L’Aquila’s stress on fulfilling past commitments added a much larger sum, assuming these promises would be kept on time.

Delivery

The summit’s likelihood of delivering its 251 commitments within the year before the next summit, hosted by Canada in 2010, is somewhat less strong. While the new process for monitoring accountability should help, L’Aquila’s commitments contain rather few of the catalysts shown to have raised compliance in the past. The number of references to core international organizations, which help compliance, is exceeded by references to other international organizations, which lower compliance (Kirton 2006). However, the documents contain robust priority placement and references to a one-year timetable, both of which boost compliance. Here the presence of the many multilateral organizations, which all had to be recognized in the communiqué, may have damaged compliance, especially if the G8 communiqué references could be used as ammunition in their subsequent battle for scare resources and turf.

Development of Global Governance

In developing global governance, L’Aquila’s performance was strong. It gave much support and guidance to multilateral organizations, and some to those of its own. It did less well in reaching out to civil society organizations or to public-private partnerships. Its references to and reliance on its own G8-centred bodies was highest in realms of climate and energy and of counterterrorism, while on non-proliferation and political security issues the summit depended heavily on the multilateral organizations.

Conclusion

At the summit’s end, Berlusconi, as chief architect and host of L’Aquila, could credibly claim credit for the event and his own role therein. The summit achieved enough in enough areas to make its convoy-like approach adequate, especially as the compelling participation of climate change was where the most progress was made. Furthermore, the innovative format of ever expanding summit participation — from G8 to G13 to MEF-17 to “G40” over three days proved to be a subject-driven formula that worked. This bodes well for the success of the next G8 summit in Muskoka, Canada, and for more inclusive global governance based on the continuing G8 core in the years ahead (Harper 2009, Kirton 2009).

References

Harper, Stephen (2009). “The 2010 Muskoka Summit,” in John Kirton and Madeline Koch, eds., G8 2009: From La Maddalena to L’Aquila [PDF]. London: Newsdesk Communications.

Kirton, John (2006), “Explaining Compliance with G8 Finance Commitments: Agency, Institutionalization, and Structure,” Open Economies Review, 17 (4): 459-475.

Kirton, John (2009). “A Summit of Sound Success: Prospects for the G8 at L'Aquila 2009.” www.g8.utoronto.ca/evaluations/2009laquila/2009prospects090706.html.

Kirton, John and Julie Feinberg (2009). “G8 2009 Summit Performance: Promoting Democracy in Iran.” www.g8.utoronto.ca/evaluations/2009laquila/feinberg090709.html.html.

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Appendix A

Climate B+ "all in," 2°, 50/80% 2050
Trade B+ Doha, investment
Architecture B+ accountability, Heiligendamm Process, G20, new cycle
Democracy B Iran
Food B- $20 billion goal
Economy and Finance B- stimulus, banking, currency devaluation
Average B  

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Appendix B: G8 Performance from 1975 to 2009

Year
Gradea
Domestic Political Managementb
Deliberative
Directionalc
Decisional
Deliveryd
Development of Global Governancee
Attendeesf
 
% Mem
Ave # Refs
# Days
# State-ments
# of Words
# Refs to Core Values
# Cmts
Compliance
# Bodies
Min/Off
# Par C/IO
1975
A-
33%
0.33
3
1
1,129
5
14
57.1
0/1
4/6
0/0
1976
D
33%
1.00
2
1
1,624
0
7
08.9
0/0
7
0/0
1977
B-
50%
1.50
2
6
2,669
0
29
08.4
0/1
8
0/0
1978
A
75%
3.25
2
2
2,999
0
35
36.3
0/0
8
0/0
1979
B+
67%
3.33
2
2
2,102
0
34
82.3
1/2
8
0/0
1980
C+
20%
0.40
2
5
3,996
3
55
07.6
0/1
8
0/0
1981
C
50%
3.75
2
3
3,165
0
40
26.6
1/0
8
0/0
1982
C
75%
1.75
3
2
1,796
0
23
84.0
0/3
9
0/0
1983
B
60%
3.00
3
2
2,156
7
38
-10.9
0/0
8
0/0
1984
C-
25%
0.50
3
5
3,261
0
31
48.8
1/0
8
0/0
1985
E
33%
1.00
3
2
3,127
1
24
01.0
0/2
8
0/0
1986
B+
80%
4.40
3
4
3,582
1
39
58.3
1/1
9
0/0
1987
D
25%
6.00
3
7
5,064
0
53
93.3
0/2
9
0/0
1988
C-
25%
0.50
3
3
4,872
0
27
-47.8
0/0
8
0/0
1989
B+
50%
1.00
3
11
7,125
1
61
07.8
0/1
8
0/0
1990
D
33%
0.67
3
3
7,601
10
78
-14.0
0/3
8
0/0
1991
B-
20%
2.80
3
3
8,099
8
53
00.0
0/0
9
1/0
1992
D
33%
1.33
3
4
7,528
5
41
64.0
1/1
8
0/0
1993
C+
33%
1.00
3
2
3,398
2
29
75.0
0/2
8
1/0
1994
C
40%
1.80
3
2
4,123
5
53
100.0
1/0
8
1/0
1995
B+
25%
0.25
3
3
7,250
0
78
100.0
2/2
8
1/0
1996
B
40%
0.40
3
5
15,289
6
128
41.0
0/3
8
1/4
1997
C-
40%
0.40
3
4
12,994
6
145
12.8
1/3
9
1/0
1998
B+
60%
1.00
3
4
6,092
5
73
31.8
0/0
9
0/0
1999
B+
80%
1.60
3
4
10,019
4
46
38.2
1/5
9
0/0
2000
B
25%
9.50
3
5
13,596
6
105
81.4
0/4
9
4/3
2001
B
40%
1.20
3
7
6,214
3
58
55.0
1/2
9
0
2002
B+
17%
0.17
2
18
11,959
10
187
35.0
1/8
10
0
2003
C
75%
1.25
3
14
16,889
17
206
65.8
0/5
10
12/5
2004
C+
33%
0.67
3
16
38,517
11
245
54.0
0/15
10
12/0
2005
A-
50%
0.50
3
16
22,286
29
212
65.0
0/5
9
11/6
2006
25%
0.25
3
15
30,695
256
317
47.0
0/4
10
5/9
2007
75%
1.25
3
8
25,857
651
329
51.0
0/4
9
9/9
2008
B+
33%
1.33
3
6
16,842
TBC
296
48.0
1/4
9
15/6
2009
B
3
10
31,167
53
251
Total
98
206
345,082
1,105
3,369
13/92
289
74/43
Ave. all
B-
43%
1.74
2.8
5
41.35
0.38/2.71
8.5
2.17/1.26
Av. cycle 1
B-
47%
1.94
2.1
2.9
2,526
1.1
29
32.46
0.14/0.71
7.43
0/0
Av. cycle 2
C-
46%
2.45
3
3.3
3,408
1.3
34
32.39
0.29/1.14
8.43
0/0
Av. cycle 3
C+
33%
1.26
3
4
6,446
4.4
56
47.54
0.58/1.29
8.14
0.57/0
Av. cycle 4
B
43%
2.04
2.9
6.7
10,880
5.7
106
42.17
0.58/3.57
9.00
0.86/1.00
Av. cycle 5
B-
49%
0.88
3
12.5
25,181
177
255.67
56.56
0.17/6.16
9.50
10.67/6.0

Notes:
N/A=Not Available; TBC=to be calculated.
a. Grades up to and including 2005 are given by Nicholas Bayne; from 2006 on are given by John Kirton, generated according to a different framework and method.
b. Domestic Political Management (National Policy Addresses): % Mem is the percentage of measured G8 countries that referred to the G7/8 at least once that year in their national policy addresses. Ave # refs = the average number of references for the measured countries.
c. Directional: number of references in the communiqué’s chapeau or chair’s summary to the G8’s core values of democracy, social advance and individual liberty.
d. Delivery: Compliance scores from 1990 to 1995 measure compliance with commitments selected by Ella Kokotsis. Compliance scores from 1996 to 2008 measure compliance with G8 Research Group’s selected commitments.
e. Development of Global Governance: Bodies Min/Off is the number of new G7/8-countries institutions created at the ministerial (min) and official (off) level at or by the summit, or during the hosting year, at least in the form of having one meeting take place. The first number represents ministerials created. The second number represents official level bodies created.
f. Attendees refers to the number of leaders of full members, including those representing the European Community from the start, and the number of invited participants of countries and/or of international organizations at the G8 leaders’ session. Russia started as a participant in 1991 and became a full member in 1998. In 1975, the G4 met without Japan and Italy; later that year the G6 met. C=Countries; IO=International Organizations. The first number represents non-G8 countries who participated. The second number represents International Organizations who participated.

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Appendix C: Summit Performance for 2009

 
Date of Release
Number of Members
DPM
Deliberation
Direction Setting
Decision Making
Delivery
Development of Global Governance
CCC
Words
DP
MOM
Compliance Catalysts
G8 Bodies
MO
CSO
PPP
CMT
Old
New
Total
CIO (+)
OIO (-)
PP (+)
1YT (+)
1. Responsible Leadership for a Sustainable Future
July 8
9
16,250
173
$462 bn
$1.2 bn
27
15
19
12
25
20
110
3
6
2. Political Issues
July 8
9
3,160
18
0
0
-2
0
2
0
0
3
18
1
1
3. L'Aquila Statement on Non-Proliferation
July 8
9
11
1,992
7
0
0
4
2
0
0
2
1
20
0
0
4. G8 Declaration on Counter Terrorism
July 8
9
0
1,367
4
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
6
5
1
0
5. Joint Declaration: Promoting the Global Agenda
July 9
15
2,035
25
0
0
0
2
4
0
2
3
12
0
1
6. Declaration of the Leaders of the Major Economies Forum on Energy and Climate
July 9
17
1,086
8
0
0
5
1
0
1
4
2
0
0
3
7. A Stronger G8-Africa Partnership on Water and Sanitation
July 10
513
6
0
0
2
1
1
1
0
2
0
1
8. L'Aquila Joint Statement on Global Food Security
July 10
1,835
10
0
$20 bn
-1
1
3
0
1
9. Chair Summary of the G8-Africa Session at the G8 L'Aquila Summit
July 10
566
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
0
10. Chair's Summary
July 10
2,363
Total
31,167
251
$462 bn
$1.2 bn
35
28
14
35
35
167
5
12

Notes:
DPM: domestic political management (as identified by Madeline Boyce)
CC: communiqué compliments
ST: statements
DP: democratic principles (as identified by Julia Kulik)
CMT: commitment (as identified by Ella Kokotsis)
MOM: money mobilized
CIO: core international organizations
OIO: other international organizations
PP: priority placement
1YT: one-year timetable
G8: G8 body
MO: multilateral organization
CSO: civil society organizations
PPP: public-private partnerships


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