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The 2010 Muskoka Summit

Stephen Harper, prime minister, Canada
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International co-operation has tackled the 2008 economic crisis head on. Looking forward to 2010, Canada will take the lead on continuing global action to secure the future for all of us.

The 2010 G8 Summit, which will be hosted by Canada in Muskoka, Ontario, will be the 36th such gathering and Canada’s fifth as host. For many years, the G8 has proved itself to be a highly successful group. It provides like-minded countries with the opportunity to build momentum to address the issues that matter for millions of the world’s people and marshal the resources necessary to tackle some of humanity’s most pressing challenges. Canada greatly values the role the G8 has played in world affairs. Next year’s Muskoka Summit will be a tremendous opportunity to advance the G8’s work: to advocate for open markets and free trade at a time of economic turmoil, to insist on truly global action against global warming and to champion freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law.

In my view, there are four broad areas where the G8 can continue to move the agenda forward in 2010: the global economy, climate change, development and democratic governance.

The level of international co-operation following the 2008 economic crisis has been unprecedented. Through the G8 and G20 working together, governments acted quickly, and in concert, to stabilise the financial system and stimulate slowing economies. They collectively committed to resist protectionist pressures. Although Canada’s financial sector was clearly sound, we undertook significant economic stimulus measures to counter a broader global slowdown. And Canada went further, by unilaterally cutting tariffs and pursuing an ambitious programme of free trade and economic partnership agreements.

It is my expectation that by the summer of 2010, when world leaders gather in Muskoka, the global economy will have begun to turn the corner and renewed growth will be in sight. Nevertheless, economic issues will be front and centre at the Muskoka Summit. Leaders will need to co­ordinate actions to lift some of the temporary policy responses put in place to deal with the crisis. Leaders will also have to look for ways to speed recovery, particularly on employment. Canada will use its G8 chair next year to generate momentum to support sustainable recovery.

The international negotiations in the United Nations on climate change will culminate in Copenhagen this December. Canada is working actively and constructively to achieve an ambitious and comprehensive new agreement, one that covers the vast majority of global emissions and includes binding commitments by all major economies. At the same time, a successful agreement in Copenhagen must also support and enable sustainable growth, including through the expansion of secure and affordable global supplies of clean energy.

Achieving this goal will require leadership from Canada and its G8 partners, as well as from the other countries participating in the US-led Major Economies Forum (MEF) on Energy and Climate. A new partnership will be required among major developed and developing countries if real progress is to be achieved in the coming months. The MEF provides an important new process in this regard, one designed to provide political momentum to the UN climate change negotiations while also deepening global collaboration on the development and commercial deployment of clean energy technologies.

The G8 has long played a leadership role in international development. It includes some of the world’s largest donors, which account for approximately two thirds of official development assistance. The G8 has also provided about 80 per cent of all funds for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria and 50 per cent of all funds to the Global Polio Eradication Initiative (including 98 per cent of all national contributions). In the short term and in the context of the global economic crisis, the G8 can help free up resources for development to restore the economic growth that is essential for sustained poverty reduction. The G8 can also continue to maintain international attention on the social dimensions of development – health, education and the critical areas of maternal and childhood wellbeing.

Advancing freedom, democracy, human rights and the rule of law have been at the G8’s core since its inception at the Rambouillet Summit in 1975. Major G8 initiatives on democracy have included the 1984 Declaration on Democratic Values, the 1990 Political Declaration: Securing Democracy and the 1997 Communiqué’s section on democracy and human rights.

Shared values have been at the heart of the G8’s success. They have helped make it an effective body that is capable of taking action quickly and in a co­ordinated fashion. These values will be a key theme of the Muskoka Summit because we believe they form the foundation of just and stable societies. And we think that improved governance more generally can go a long way to strengthening fragile states at risk of failure.
The G8 is an institution with a proven record of moving agendas forward, of drawing attention to overlooked issues and, perhaps most importantly, of being able to mobilise resources to meet global challenges.

For all these reasons, I am delighted to welcome the world to Muskoka next year. Muskoka is quintessentially Canadian – a landscape that has inspired generations of poets and painters. Several thriving First Nations communities call it home. It has a bounty of natural resources, including vast forests and more than 600 lakes, bounded by rocky shores, and all just 200 kilometres north of Toronto, our largest urban centre. Not surprisingly, Muskoka has long been a peaceful refuge for city dwellers and is now a centre for eco-tourism. My hope is that in this tranquil setting, world leaders will find renewed inspiration to tackle the many pressing global issues before us.

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