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Cooperation, responsibility, solidarity

Angela Merkel, chancellor, Germany

German chancellor Angela Merkel on the key tenets guiding the G8’s work

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 my view, the three core principles of the work done by the G8 and G20 are cooperation, responsibility and solidarity. Our talks at the forthcoming summits in Camp David and Los Cabos will also be guided by these principles. The list of issues that we want to address at these summits is long but, of course, not conclusive. At the G8 Deauville Summit last year, we showed that we can react quickly to urgent developments in the world. We grasped the opportunity presented by the changes that swept North Africa and the Middle East to form a partnership with the transition countries, a partnership that will provide a framework for our cooperation for many years to come. Both the G8 and the G20 summits offer the heads of state and governments of both the leading industrialised countries and the world’s emerging economies the chance to devise joint proposals on how to resolve current global issues. We have to take advantage of this opportunity. Events in North Africa and the Middle East have brought home to us the enormous potential for economic and political development in this region. The aim of the Deauville Partnership is, in short, to enable this potential to be realised through cooperation with the G8. Therefore, our task at Camp David will be to give this cooperation more substance and to come up with concrete projects. For instance, legal cooperation on the return of expropriated state property should be extended and the reciprocal opening of markets advanced. The expansion of the geographical scope of the mandate of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) to include the Southern Mediterranean countries has already progressed considerably.

Getting young people into work

We continue to attach special importance to the fight against youth unemployment. The International Labour Organization (ILO) has stated that the world’s highest youth unemployment rates, at 25 per cent, are to be found in the North African and Middle East region. Getting off to a bad start has serious consequences not only for the young people concerned, but also for the economy as a whole. The G20 has therefore drawn up an entire catalogue of measures and best practices aimed at improving the quality of vocational training and its practical relevance, as well as entry into the job market after school or higher education. This now has to be implemented. An approach that has been particularly successful in Germany, Switzerland and Austria is the dual system, which combines vocational schooling and on-the-job training. Under this system, there is a much greater chance that young people will find a job once their training is completed. According to the ILO, youth unemployment in Germany is low, at around eight per cent, and this is without doubt due to the success of our model. A German vocational training programme in Egypt is attempting to apply this experience in concrete terms in a Deauville partner country, thus making a very practical contribution towards improving working conditions and quality of life on the ground.

This year will also be the year of the Rio+20 conference and the 18th United Nations Climate Change Conference in Qatar. We must all assume responsibility for our future and for that of coming generations, renew our political commitment to sustainable development and advance the Durban Platform in order to ensure that we can conclude a new international climate change agreement by 2015 at the latest.

All of this has to be considered when we shape the framework for global economic growth, for we in the G20 have set ourselves the goal of fostering strong, sustainable and balanced growth. This formula must now be put into practice. Mexico has helped in this by choosing green growth as the cross-cutting issue of its G20 presidency.

Economic growth and environmental protection go hand in hand and create new potential. According to forecasts, the global turnover in environmental technologies will grow to more than €4,400 billion ($5,780 billion) by 2025, a threefold increase compared to 2007. Investments in energy efficiency, sustainable water management or new transport strategies have been producing impressive growth rates for many years now. Moreover, they boost innovation in the entire economy. We have to carry on promoting this dynamic growth.

As representatives of the largest economies – the G20 accounts for 80 per cent of world trade – we bear a special responsibility for free trade and open world markets, vital prerequisites for dynamic growth in the global economy. However, in recent times we have witnessed a series of G20 states introducing an increasing number of protectionist measures. At the forthcoming summits, therefore, Germany will call on the G8 and G20 to stand by our commitment to free trade and to step up our joint efforts to prevent protectionism and liberalise world trade.

Supporting African nations

Solidarity with other states, in particular African nations, has always been one of the G8’s priorities. I welcome the fact that this also increasingly applies to the work of the G20. The issue of food security highlights what the two forums can achieve. One example of this is the L’ Aquila Food Security Initiative, initiated by the G8 in 2009 and supported by many other states. In the past three years it has been able to make a real difference to its beneficiaries through its financial support for a whole host of large and small food-security projects.

Another example is the Agricultural Market Information System (AMIS), launched by the G20, which promises to lead to more transparent, and thus fairer, prices on local markets in Africa. However, the disaster in the Horn of Africa last year demonstrated once more that we have a long way to go before we have vanquished hunger. We therefore have to seek new and even unconventional solutions in order to ensure that the solidarity we can show as leading industrialised countries and emerging economies has maximum impact.

The best way to combat hunger is to support the many millions of smallholders in sub-Saharan Africa, increase agricultural productivity, transfer agrotechnologies and – probably the most important and effective means – create the framework for sustainable and durable private investments. Only when a reliable local market for food has evolved, with efficient cultivation and storage methods as well as fair and transparent prices for producers and consumers, will a long-term solution be found to the problem of malnutrition.

Time is of the essence. UNICEF has estimated that today 38 per cent of all children in Africa are suffering from malnutrition-related development problems. This considerably lessens their chances of earning an adequate living later to support themselves and their families. According to the World Bank, the malnutrition of children alone results in a decrease of two to three per cent in gross domestic product in the countries affected. This is unacceptable, both in human and economic terms.

This is only a small selection of the issues we will address in an open and constructive exchange at the Camp David and Los Cabos summits. I am certain that if the G8 and G20 countries make decisions and act in unison, we will be able to achieve remarkable progress.

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