x G8: acting together for global prosperity and security
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G8: acting together for global prosperity and security

Stephen Harper, prime minister, Canada

Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper considers the progress made on agreements at recent G8 summits and how continued cooperation is crucial to addressing both new and ongoing challenges

From "The G8 Camp David Summit 2012: The Road to Recovery," edited by John Kirton and Madeline Koch,
published by Newsdesk Media Group and the G8 Research Group, 2012
To download a low-resolution pdf, click here.

In 2010 in Muskoka and last year in Deauville, the G8 addressed critical situations affecting global peace and security, promoted solutions to improve maternal and child health in the developing world, and stood up for values we hold dear: freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law. The G8 continues to serve as a key actor and catalyst for launching concrete and credible responses to global challenges.

As we near the 2012 summit at Camp David, I am pleased to see that the work on another key component of the G8, namely accountability, continues. Last year, building on the annual accountability reporting process that Canada initiated at Muskoka, the French G8 presidency released the Deauville Accountability Report, which focused on commitments made, and results achieved, by G8 partners in the areas of health and food security. Ensuring G8 accountability stood high not only on the list of Deauville Summit priorities, it also figures prominently in the US G8 presidency's plans for the Camp David Summit this year. Continuing to make the G8 more accountable, and ensuring that it better delivers on its commitments, makes it a stronger and more effective international forum. The notion that an accountable G8 is a more effective G8 is now commonly accepted and, together with the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health, is one of Muskoka's great legacies.

At the Deauville Summit, I was also proud – both as Canada's prime minister and as co-chair of the United Nations Commission on Information and Accountability for Women's and Children's Health – of Canada's role in improving the health of women and children in developing countries around the world, including by encouraging G8 leaders to support and implement the recommendations of the commission and urging others to do so as well.

This year again, Canada will have a strong record to present at the Camp David Summit, particularly on food security, as we were the first among G8 members to have fully disbursed our $1.18 billion 2009 L'Aquila commitment to support sustainable agriculture development. Moreover, Canada has fully delivered on its promise to untie 100 per cent of food aid, and has been at the forefront in addressing urgent humanitarian crises, including the East Africa drought. But we will not stop there. There is a need to invest in innovative solutions and to engage with the private sector to promote investments in agriculture. Canada is committed to working closely with its partners to further strengthen global efforts on this issue.

Despite our progress on these issues, real challenges remain. G8 leaders will once again be meeting at a time of global economic uncertainty, and Canada has again had one of the strongest economic performances in the G8. Our recovery has been fuelled by significant policy stimulus from Canada's Economic Action Plan, as well as by our sound fiscal and monetary policy framework, which have led to a strong rebound in consumer and business spending. While Canada's domestic economy has been resilient over the past year, the challenges of weaker global growth and global financial turmoil persist. With this in mind, I look forward to working with our G8 partners to foster the conditions required for enhancing global economic growth and ensuring long-term prosperity, notably by promoting trade liberalisation and market access and fighting protectionism.

Global peace and security challenges remain important issues for the G8. In Deauville, leaders discussed Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Middle East Peace Process, Iran, North Korea, the threat of terrorism and the transformations in the Middle East and North Africa. In an outreach session with the prime ministers of Egypt and Tunisia, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the United Nations, leaders adopted a declaration on the Arab Spring and, along with the leaders of Egypt and Tunisia, launched the Deauville Partnership to support the transitions towards democracy in the Middle East and North Africa. The G8 is committed to accompanying transition countries on their path towards democracy and more inclusive economic development. For its part, Canada will continue to promote key foundations of the Deauville Partnership, such as respect for democracy and fundamental freedoms, including the right to practise religious faith in safety and security.

Working alongside the international community, the G8 is addressing global security issues. Last year in Deauville, leaders issued a strong statement on Libya saying that Gaddafi had failed to protect the Libyan population and that ‘he must go'. The people of Libya will soon be afforded the opportunity to choose their leaders in democratic elections.

However, the situation in Syria remains unacceptable. At Camp David, the G8 will draw further attention to the international community's expectation for the Syrian regime to urgently stop perpetuating violence against its own people.

Energy figures prominently on the Camp David Summit agenda. In this time of fiscal restraint, energy security is a critical factor in ensuring economic growth and prosperity. As a major energy producer and net energy exporter across the full spectrum of energy commodities and technologies, Canada is contributing to continental and global energy security and will continue to work with its partners to further this goal.

On the environment, Canada is committed to building upon the success of the Copenhagen, Cancun and Durban conferences and working towards a legally binding agreement that includes all major emitters. Domestically, through our sector-by-sector strategy, Canada is on track to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 17 per cent from 2005 levels by 2020 – a target we share with the United States. Canada is also on target to deliver on its $1.2 billion fast-start financing commitment. During the recent Summit of the Americas, Canada announced funding to support projects for renewable energy, energy efficiency, adaptation and reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

The past few years have witnessed the emergence of numerous global challenges. The G8's agenda and actions prove a continuing capacity to work together and, with other partners, to address these challenges. Again, this year at Camp David, we will continue to find innovative and effective solutions to pursue global security, as this is the best assurance of security and prosperity in Canada.

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