February 7, 2006
The Civil Society and Expanded Dialogue Unit conducts research and analysis on the G8's ongoing relationship with major external stakeholders, including emerging economies and civil society. The group also publishes thematic reports on the G8's past and present involvement in issues that will be discussed at the upcoming summit.
In the 2005-2006 academic year, the CS-ED Unit will be working on four major reports: Assessing the Relationship between Civil Society and the G8, G8 Initiatives on Russia's Priorities: Education, Energy Security, and Global Health, Russia and the G8, and Expanding the Dialogue: The G8 and Emerging Economies. All reports will be published in June 2006. This summary will provide an overview of the writing and analysis that has been completed thus far.
For more information on any of the reports, please contact:
Janet Chow, G8RG CS-ED Co-Chair
Adrian Morson, G8RG CS-ED Co-Chair
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This report analyzes the dynamic relationship between the G8 and civil society. Working with the London School of Economics definition of civil society as being the arena in which diverse actors and institutions such as non-governmental organizations (NGOs), professional associations, and diaspora networks engage in unforced collective action around shared interests, purposes and values, this report provides a factual overview of the G8-civil society relationship, while providing analysis where necessary. While the report includes a brief historical summary of civil society and the G8, it focuses largely on post-Gleneagles civil society actions in the two main issue areas of climate change and Africa, G8 responses to such action, and the engagement of civil society in G8-directed activities prior to the 2006 Summit in St. Petersburg, Russia.
In preparation for the final report in June, analysts will continue to monitor civil society groups in their efforts to pressure G8 leaders to follow through with their Gleneagles commitments, while determining whether or not these continued efforts garner any G8 response. These next few months will also see the group looking more closely at Russia's initiatives to engage civil society through its Civil 8 initiative, the Russian civil society environment, and the nature of preparations for the Summit by groups particularly invested in the three main agenda items of energy security, education, and global health.
Continued momentum for Africa?
The efforts by civil society to keep the issues of poverty reduction and Africa on the minds of the most influential leaders in the world remains a challenge, especially as we approach the St. Petersburg Summit where these issues do not figure prominently on the agenda. While the current draft highlights the actions of some civil society groups including those subsumed under the banner of the Make Poverty History Campaign, the final report will explore G8-directed civil society action on other issues in Africa, including conflict prevention and HIV/AIDS. Furthermore, the degree to which civil society action on Africa is proving influential will be assessed for the final report.
A different forum for civil society action on climate change:
Following Gleneagles and the release of the G8 leaders' Plan of Action on Climate Change, civil society groups found another opportunity for dialogue and progress on the issue at the UN Climate Change Conference in Montreal, Canada. With 10 000 participants, 80% of which were from 753 different NGOs, the UN Conference seemed like an appropriate venue to explore civil society sentiments on the international progress made so far on the issue of climate change, and whether or not the G8 has a role to play in affecting policy debate on the issue. We aimed to see if civil society groups were aware of the G8 Plan of Action on Climate Change and if so, what their opinions were on these commitments. Furthermore, we wanted to see how civil society was accommodated in the Montreal conference process. Although we recognize that the Gleneagles Summit and the UN Conference on Climate Change were different in size, structure, goals, and actors, which produced dramatic differences in civil society involvement, it is interesting to make some observations comparisons and contrasts on how the multilateral UN conference and the plurilateral G8 summit incorporated civil society into their respective decision-making processes.
Fortunately, three G8 Research Group members participated in the conference and provided us with interesting and useful reports on those issues. Our representatives collected civil society opinions on the G8 and reported on many aspects of the conference, including the European Union-held session entitled, G8 Gleneagles Plan of Action: dialogue on climate change, clean energy and sustainability an update, the Youth Summit, and the civil society lobbying opportunities.
The current draft also contains information on what some climate change groups have been doing in addition to their participation in the UN Conference on Climate Change. In the coming months, we will be incorporating into this section of the report, progress made by climate change groups, civil society action on the issue of international energy security, and any G8 responses to these civil society pressures.
Note: The current climate change draft of the Civil Society Report draws from the results of the surveys that we had distributed to civil society groups at the UN Climate Change Conference, and reports authored by Brian Kolenda and Joanna Dafoe of the G8 Research Group.
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This report contains three major sections for each of the priority issues of energy security, global health and education. Each section consists of analysis on each of the G8 countries with regards to their actions on the issue.
This section focuses on the actions taken by the G8 countries in securing stable and reliable sources of energy for present and future consumption. By providing an overview of the G8's history of commitments on the issue, this report strives to establish a historical context for the Russian initiative of Energy Security. The Russian Government has defined energy security as the reliable and effective provision of traditional hydrocarbon energy resources to the global economy; energy diversification through the use of new energy sources and technologies; and more efficient use of energy resources. It is clear that energy security is a broadly defined topic that includes the controlling of oil and gas price fluctuations, transportation, and renewable energy. As such, this section begins with an outline of current energy consumption levels of G8 countries and how these are comparable to internationally recognized pollution quota targets such as those that are outlined in the Kyoto Protocol. The body of this section consists of a country-by-country analysis of past energy initiatives both in the domestic and international spheres and the action taken to address the problem. Also assessed, are obstacles faced by the member countries, and the varying degrees of domestic and private sector support for such initiatives.
Russia has declared global health and in particular, infectious disease, as one of the three priority issues. At each of the five summits in the 21st century, this topic has occupied a prominent place on the agenda. In this section, each of the G8 countries are being assessed on their record of compliance on past G8 global health commitments, their efforts to address HIV/AIDS, the chronic afflictions of malaria and tuberculosis, the re-emergence of old diseases such as polio, emerging pandemics such as Avian influenza and SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), and bioterrorism. Additionally, progress will be assessed in areas that the Russian government stated as crucial for G8 attention, including: the promotion of institutional health care development; support for medicine and vaccine research and production; support for equal access to diagnostic, prevention, and treatment facilities; support for global programs fighting infectious diseases; and the promotion of intra-national cooperation notably between public, private, and civic institutions to fight infectious diseases.
Identified by the Russian government as a major condition for success of individual countries and regions, the importance of education in the 21st century has been identified by the G8 as of principal importance at every summit since the 1999 Cologne Summit. The Education section of this report will highlight the various initiatives such as the Cologne Charter (1999), Education in a Changing Society (2000), Education for All (2001 & 2002), the Plan of Action for the Developing Nations (2004), and the Joint Progress Report on Africa (2005), and assess the extent to which the G8 countries have fared in meeting the goals of each.
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Our report on the history of Russian integration into the G8 processes briefly overviews Russia's relationship with the G8 countries, the institution of the G8 from 1991 to the present, and the conditions under which Russia was admitted to the G8. The report also explains why Russia has been excluded from the G7 Finance Ministerial. After an exploration of Russian compliance with G8 commitments, the report highlights Russian expectations and ambitions for the 2006 St. Petersburg Summit and concludes with a commentary on the possible use of the Russian integration model for future expansion of the G8 to include South Africa, Brazil, Mexico, China and India.
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As a follow-up to the CS-ED report entitled G8 Reform: Expanding the Dialogue, released in June 2005, this report assesses the roles of the world's four leading emerging economies (India, China, Brazil and Mexico), and South Africa in affecting the G8, and how the G8 has responded to these increasingly salient actors.
The report explores each country's involvement at the Gleneagles Summit, and how they can contribute to more in-depth dialogue with G8 leaders on the three priorities of international energy security, education, and global health. Information is provided on each country's role in the world, economic and political developments, and involvement on the three priority issues so far. While G8 reform in the near future seems unlikely, this report suggests that each country holds valuable perspectives and interests that the G8 should not ignore.
In looking ahead to the St. Petersburg Summit, China, India, and Brazil in particular, will largely factor into discussions on energy security, due to the massive populations in each country, their patterns of energy consumption, and their future needs. Mexico may be included in the dialogue on energy security as well, as the world's ninth largest oil-exporter and neighbour to an increasingly energy-vulnerable United States. Discussions on infectious diseases will likely affect all five countries, especially India and South Africa due to their alarming rates of HIV/AIDS, and China, which has been a major site of Avian influenza and SARS concerns. All five will also have a role to play in discussions on education as each country is confronted with the pressures to invest in quality human development. We will see if in the next few months, Russia makes the effort to expand the dialogue by including any or all of these countries in pre-Summit meetings and/or by extending to these countries, invitations to the Summit.[top of page]
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