Summits | Meetings | Publications | Research | Search | Home | About the G7 and G8 Research Group
April 10, 2006
Presented by the G8 Research Group
with the support of Foreign Affairs Canada
This event was webcast on Monday, April 10.
To watch the video in RealAudio, click here.
To watch the video in Windows Media Player, click here.
Or click here.
Please note that the comments made during this session are off the record
and not for attribution or citation.
Please feel free to send your questions or statements to email@example.com,
which we will do our best pass on to the sherpas.
Unofficial transcript by Madeline Koch and Laura Sunderland, G8 Research Group
John Kirton: Hello, I'm Professor John Kirton, director of the G8 Research Group, which is a global network of scholars and professionals and whose mission is to serve as the world's leading independent source of information on the issues of the G8. It is my great pleasure to welcome everyone here for this important event - this consultation with civil society stakeholders and G8 governors on the forthcoming G8 summit hosted by the Russian Federation in St. Petersburg July 15-17 of this year.
I would like to begin by welcoming our two guest speakers: Mr. Igor Shuvalov and Mr. Peter Harder. Mr. Shuvalov is the personal representative of President Vladimir Putin of the Russian Federation, the host of the G8 this year. We G8 watchers, as we've looked at the Russian presidency, have been impressed looking at the presidency's innovation in democratizing the G8 process through deeper engagement of civil society with governors. This meeting is an important part of the process - the beginning of a tour that will take Mr. Shuvalov to civil society consolations throughout all members of the G8.
And Mr. Harder, of course, is the personal representative for the G8 of Canada's Stephen Harper.
Thank you, civil society stakeholders, for coming to participate with us today in Ottawa physically and also - technology willing - by video conference soon in Montreal Calgary and Toronto. These are the sites importantly connected to Canadian summits past: Montreal, near Montebello in 1981; Toronto, where we hosted in 1988; Calgary close to Kananaskis, where we hosted in 2002.
There are a few ground rules for our session that we all must follow to maximize the limited time we have. We are operating under rules of the Canadian Institute for International Affairs [CIIA] or Chatham House rules. Everything said at this consultation is off record, not for attribution or citation in whole or in part. It is a deep background. There are no electronic or video recordings allowed in order to ensure the freest and frankest exchange, which we all want.
I should also note that in addition to video conference, we are webcasting the conversation so that many stakeholders can participate in this event. By your participation here and in Montreal, Calgary, Toronto, you are assigning your intellectual property rights to the G8 Research Group as we go forward to accomplish our global educational purposes about the G8 around the world now and in the years hence.
We will start here in Ottawa, we will have 20 minutes here with Mr. Shuvolov and Mr. Harder. Then we begin the dialogue here in Ottawa. If you would like to speak, please raise your hand and I'll recognize you. Do identify yourself and your occupation. Please try to make your interventions as brief as possible, no more than one minute. We have far more people who wish to participate than we have time. Then after we spend 15-20 minutes here in Ottawa, we will then move to Montreal, then to Calgary, Toronto in turn.
Let me turn to Igor Shuvalov for a few words of introduction.
Igor Shuvalov: Thank you. Hello everyone. I would like to thank Peter for inviting me here to Canada. It was his idea that we will visit all capitals and speak with NGO representatives to provide information about our priorities for the summit this year. Last year in London, we promised that we would carry on this year with NGOs. We organized a civil forum this year in Moscow with over 300 international NGOs invited. We hosted them in Moscow just a month ago. Maybe some of you were there present, I don't know. We will have another session in Moscow in June, but Peter and my other colleagues suggested it would be better for me to visit the capitals and speak with you directly - not just in Moscow but here - so I can answer all your questions about Russia now. So if you want to ask questions now not only about the agenda but also the different process going on in Russia, I would be very happy to answer. Briefly the three major subjects of Russian agenda [are] global energy security, fighting against infectious diseases and professional education. We will have as well a follow-up agenda on nonproliferation, intellectual property rights, terrorism and others.
It was Canada who suggested that Russia will host the summit in 2006, in Kananaskis, and global energy security is equally important for both our countries and now very important for maybe the whole world. Canada and Russia together could play a major role here, fighting against infectious diseases. We are two countries that can play an important role in providing more efficient help and aid for developing countries and professional education we consider as the key mechanism for future prosperity and best development. Here again Canada and Russia both have very good experience and very talented people, educated people, and we can provide added value as two countries that can speak the same language during the summit. If you have precise questions about our initiatives about these three subjects or again Russia itself and Russian NGOs, I'm completely open for discussion.
Peter Harder: It is a pleasure for me to welcome Igor Shuvalov here. I do not want to take time going through the agenda because we want to hear from you. This is an important engagement with civil society to the G8 process and leaders. We in Canada, as John's organization has recorded, have developed the concept of civil society engagement and along with other G8 countries and experimented with its practice. Last year with the UK presidency we had for the first time an international civil society engagement in London with a small group of G8 sherpas. In Moscow last year they had an engagement, but this is a new benchmark in this process. There is a balance between domestic-based engagement with the presidency and, beginning through London and now Moscow, a coming together of global NGO players to collectively discuss and engage the G8 process through the sherpas. This is a healthy development for this process of G8 meetings. Let me leave it at that and maximize the time for engagement.
Kirton: Thank you very much, Peter. And welcome Montreal, Calgary and Toronto and the webcast audience. Those of you in our webcast audience and at any of our sites, should you have interventions beyond the available time, can send them into firstname.lastname@example.org by email, and we will forward them to Mr. Shuvalov's team as the beginning of a dialogue that will extend in the weeks and months hence. Now to the oral dialogue beginning here in Ottawa for about 20 minutes. Ground rules for interventions: turn microphone on at the start and off at end. You can ask your question in either of Canada's official languages. Do briefly identify yourself and your organization and which sherpa you would like to respond. Who would like to begin?
[xxx] Carleton University. This is a request - a plea - to both sherpas regarding how President Putin has emphasized education for the G8 summit. My plea is: can you please help young Canadians in high school and university students to make the people-to-people exchange more real than at this moment. We do not have a mobility program in Canada that embraces all Canadian students and universities. I would request that such a mechanism be considered for the G8 summit.
David Elder. I've been in this building before, but am now teaching at Queen's University and am a member of the CIIA. I have a question for both: What challenges has the presidency of the summit faced this year? For the first time the presidency is not a member of the WTO [World Trade Organization], the OECD [Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development], the IEA [International Energy Agency] and yet the issues are very much issues that the international system, through those organizations, deals with.
Karen McBride: Thank you very much. My name is Karen McBride. I represent the Association of Universities and Colleges of Canada. All the universities belong to our association. I'd like to echo the plea for people-to-people engagement particularly among our the future leaders. That's a foundational activity. I'd like to here more from both of you about the theme of professional education: what do you see as key issues to be discussed by the G8 under this topic and any initial thoughts with respect to mechanisms that the G8 might cooperate together and what contribution the universities themselves might make to the realization of those issues.
Shuvalov: Exchange programs. We consider those as very, very important. They will help people to understand each other and create the real cement for future politicians. Unfortunately, currently these programs - we send different students from Russia to foreign universities and from those universities we accept only or mostly students who learn Russian language. We consider that is a completely inappropriate picture and we would like to provide the stage for foreign students to be able to study the same subjects as Russian students are able to study at foreign universities. We don't have a general mechanism within the G8 or somehow else. It's more bilateral agreements provided by the universities. This issue is very important and I think in our final communiqué we need to have a part about exchange programs. This is very important, thank you, and we need to think about the mechanisms for high schools to move more aggressively. I support it. We need our young people to visit universities and have some time, at least for a few months to spend at a foreign university. I myself spent one year, my final year, in the United States at the school of law at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. I support it. For young people it will mean something.
Challenges. It's not easy at all, I can tell you, to provide the proper presidency while you have a very difficult atmosphere provided by mass media, especially after the Ukrainian crisis with gas prices and we anticipate that even before the summit this picture will be worse and common people don't understand what's going on in reality in my country. It's a mass media picture, a kind of image, stereotype, I don't know. It has nothing to do with the real politics of Russia. At the same time we're now negotiating with the U.S. about WTO accession. It's a very critical point. We've found that just three subjects [are] left, and now we have an additional list of demands from their side, and I don't think it's possible to sort them out very quickly.
OECD. I met with their president, who is leaving office, and he thinks that the OECD needs Russia as full member as soon as possible. But we need to get invitation. Many countries think that the OECD invitation should be provided after the WTO accession, so it's connected.
International Energy Agency. We're not member, it's true. A few years ago Russia considered that agency not a priority and we didn't think it was our purpose to become a member. Now that's changing and we think that very soon we would be able to become a partner or full member for the agency. So to answer your question, it's very difficult. The criticism is huge at this point. People don't understand what's going on. They criticize us for lack of democracy, they don't understand what is done by Putin, they say about nationalization instead of privatization - that the state or government now he is trying to control the assets, mass media and all that stuff. We wanted, desperately, to fulfill all bilaterals before end of last year but we couldn't because of American position and now I even cannot tell you. Quite frankly I don't know if we will be able to say by the summit that we have finished the bilaterals.
But we understand that we have to be optimistic. We need to provide success at the summit. Everyone needs success. All the subjects are very important for all the leaders, globally very important. We're working now with all the countries to draft the documents properly. I don't see any problem. We have a few difficult issues such as nuclear energy and something else, but I believe that at the summit the leaders will agree about the general principles to develop. But again, how the general public will accept it will mean a lot for success. If leaders agree and sign communiqus and then they come back to the public and they will otherwise say you supported Putin's regime and you needn't do anything for your own nations. That's not good. For that purpose we need to speak more with NGOs and common people to explain what is going on.
Education. We will have in our papers a few things which would be continuing the previous agreements by the G8 - like Education For All, and others. But this year we are discussing something new. First my colleagues thought it was the Russian vision is to have international standards - this is not the case. We understand that professional education is the key element for the future and we need to compete for qualified labour. Then universities, governments and labour units have to create a kind of international mechanisms how to anticipate, how to appreciate the skills of the graduates. So if someone graduates from Toronto University or Moscow State University it's obvious what kind of skills they have from their diploma. We're not trying to impose international standards but something based on the dialogue: labour markets, university and governments - then it will ease the process of labour mobility. Universities may be the key player in that. We understand that universities are very conservative societies. They want more money but they don't want to change. They need to lead the process. Need to compete ultimately for labour. Canada, Russia needs more migrants, U.S. and so on and so forth so our high schools and professionals skills should do what they can to give mobility to very qualified education. Then when you get migrants who are not qualified you can provide them with certain knowledge to be part of society and then participate on the labour market.
Harder: Let me be brief but underscore the direction that Igor is taking this conversation. People-to-people contacts: absolutely. That's part of building global citizenship in our youth and in our educational institutions. I compliment the Russians in developing the Junior 8, the notion of engaging people 13 to 17 in the G8 process - a way of, in a sense, introducing them to their community of peers - that will take place in the context of the Russian presidency. More profoundly, the opportunity we have with the attention the Russians are giving to human capital etc. is to take it to that level of engagement that we've talked about. It's about exploiting innovation, building the knowledge society, understanding that, in the world's leading industrialized countries, human capital is the key to our future and it needs to have mechanism for free movement, just as we've developed mechanisms for labour and goods. This is the early part of that conversation - absolutely necessary and tied to a social agenda of integration of tolerance and respect for individuals. I think the agenda is very large and I compliment the AUCC at their presidents' meeting last week of having this on the agenda. I was happy to participate and explore with the presidents of the universities and make the pitch that universities have to themselves buy into and in a sense be advocates of a global citizenship agenda. That means having our campuses be both attractive for and senders of our students to other international institutions and the kind of mobility we've talked about.
David Elder, your question - I can't comment about the challenges from the Russian side but I can tell you how it's impressive to see how Igor Shuvalov and Andrei Kondakov and the team giving leadership to the Russian presidency have through very good planning started early, listened to and developed more intense dialogue with G8 counterparts and are using the architecture of a fairly elaborate engagement to in a sense perhaps deal with the challenges of this being the first - and not all of the mechanisms, including the G7 finance mechanisms, I should add - and I think that's all working very well and we're looking forward to a successful presidency.
Ted Schrecker from the Institution of Population Health at University of Ottawa. Everyone in my field is, of course, pleased to see communicable diseases high on the agenda for the summit. But I wonder, although it's early days yet, if you can give us a sense of what specific commitments we might hope for in terms of new resources, new programs, new initiatives. As many people probably know the Global Fund, for instance, has in hand just over half the pledges it needs to meet its needs for the next two years.
Graham Saul, Oil Change International. I wanted to turn the conversation to the energy security discussion, which I understand is the leading issue this year at the G8. A couple of concepts I was hoping we could better understand. One is the issue of demand security: what does it involve? Secondly, another issue that has been the idea of creating a reliable and stable investment climate for investments in energy. Tell me more what you mean by that and, specifically, what institutions you see promoting that investment strategy, since the G8 is a forum for dialogue than for actual implementation. Finally, I was wondering if you could comment on the reaction of different countries to what is perceived by many of us as a dramatic turnaround from last year's Gleneagles mandate on energy as tackling the problem of climate change and other energy related to an agenda this year that seems focused on promoting investment in fossil fuels.
Roy Culpeper, North-South Institute. Also picking up on last year's Gleneagles theme, my question has to do with development. As Peter Harder knows, when we hosted in Kananaskis, Africa was at the top of the agenda as it was along with climate change last year at Gleneagles. My question is: Is the issue of development going to be approached through the prism of energy security, infectious diseases and professional education, or are you going to go beyond that? As we heard last year that progress toward the MDGs [Millennium Development Goals] is not satisfactory. The MDGs have themselves been the subject of considerable criticism. It seems a stock tacking/check in would be appropriate at St. Petersburg.
Shuvalov: Infectious diseases. New commitments. Frankly speaking, we don't want any new commitments. If possible. Let's say if possible, first not to speak about new additional money, first to speak about efficiency, how to spend money we committed to invest or donate. At this stage our government, the Russian government, thinks that lots of money which is donated to international programs - that money is not used efficiently. Even last year when we were preparing for Gleneagles and the British were insisting on $50 billion additional donations, we were not sure because African governments, for instance, are not very efficient at spending that money. Existing mechanisms are not very good. People don't see the help immediately and bureaucracy using that money - everything is long and not efficient. First we'd like to talk about efficiency and then if needed more money for Global Fund, HIV/AIDS and others. For instance - Russian initiatives among ourselves - this year think we need to double our donations, including the Global Fund, and we take back money from Global Fund for HIV programs and then maybe from January 1 can announce only Russian budgetary funds will be used for those programs and Global Funds will be completely spend for developing countries, for poor countries, not for ourselves. Then new vaccines. Everything that will need new funds we are ready to talk about and we are negotiating with our partners. But we are not like our predecessors: we not will say that our success is about announcing more commitments. We would like to say that all mechanisms suggested by the Russian presidency will be very efficient, and then if needed funds will be provided. Then we discussed by the summit we will need to calculate all the gaps which we have at this stage. It means that previous commitments were made by the government and, if we don't need enough or insufficient funds, we need to negotiate to provide with certain information our leaders to be able to give more money for these purposes and to just to forget about these gaps. Most of our initiatives are not connected with immediate money, which should be donated internationally. We will think about new mechanisms for how to provide each other with information about infectious diseases, how to use efficiently our people who could travel immediately if something happens somewhere in the world, how to invest properly to create new vaccines and for new science works. A few things will demand money definitely but mostly we will talk about how to manage efficiently at the international level.
Then I would like to answer the question about development in Africa. Yes we would like to emphasize about development mechanism in each subject, infectious diseases education and energy security, including Africa. We don't want to say anything, just to have a separate discussion and a separate communiqu about Africa. What we'd like to have is a report provided by the British of what happened after Gleneagles. Do we have any real - you know, is the situation changing? - have a clear picture of what's going on? In the fall we will have a conference in Moscow about Africa. And then we will talk seriously about Gleneagles commitments and how we will pursue and proceed after St. Petersburg on those three issues. For us it's more important to talk about poverty in energy because energy is the key issue for the economic development, and about how to provide poor counties with energy sources, how to help poor people to fight infectious diseases and get vaccines and education again, how to help poor countries to get professional education on the international level and again Education For All is a well-known program and we need to donate more money for that.
Energy security. Climate change and that part of the Gleneagles paper, which is about new technologies and all that stuff - we will have most of that paper in our St. Petersburg communiqu. So it is a kind of consensus that everything that we said in he Gleneagles communiqu about new technologies, energy efficiency, energy savings - we share this year and we know that we need to provide this information to the current presidency that we are continuing the process. So climate change will be discussed by the leaders but not as the key element. The key element is energy efficiency, which will lead to less CO2 emissions, not just as it was made by the British, but we think that energy efficiency and energy savings will help us with CO2 so it will help us and the danger will be less.
Security in demand. Very important issue. We were under the critics when we first announced this to the public and we strongly believe that energy security could exist only provided that people understand that there are two things: energy security of supply and security of demand. It doesn't mean that the states or the governments will be obliged to consume fuel or gas or oil. It means we need to create certain transparent rules that will not provide any restrictions for both parties, producing and consuming. Your question about transparent rule and investment climate: I think it's obvious that all the governments within G8 and others should follow certain principles of how to create investment climate free for countries willing to invest but on the other side be open to welcome the investments from the countries that produce oil and gas. So it's a combination that is not expected now within western countries. Western companies would like to invest into the countries that produce oil and gas, but we say it's combined. And then we say about cross-owned assets. This is our proposal, our suggestion. We think and believe that only if major companies own assets world-wide, cross-owned assets, it will provide real security when their interests are interconnected so companies will become interdependent. I heard this word this morning: interdependence. It's exactly what we want. Then the politicians will not be able to harm national companies because [if you do] something wrong towards an international company ultimately you do something wrong against your own national company. So interdependence is another key issue we support.
Harder: Harder: Let me see add briefly what we describe as Russia's theme of continuity and evolution. In choosing its themes they were welcomed by my G8 colleagues - but we want to make sure that the continuity of the focus given since Okinawa, but [not only] Kananaskis, gave a big impetus to it, for Africa wasn't lost but the texture could be different. We made sure there was a development lens to the three subjects but also mechanisms of taking stock on where we are on commitments that have been made, but also some coming together of events, including the African Partnership Forum in the fall that would take us through the period of St. Petersburg and have focus. Some of the outreach will be reflective of that in terms of the African Union. With respect to population health and whatnot, the experts are meeting and part of our job as sherpas is to wait for expert advice. But clearly from the G8 perspective we are not an institution and we have a convening power and it is certainly a high convening power - the high table of multilateralism - but it does allow us to put a spotlight on one of the gaps. And we know one of the gaps is between animal health and human health with respect to pandemics. From a Canadian perspective we've been wanting to make some interventions on that regard.
If I could, just on the issues of the Gleneagles commitment on climate change and the like. I thought Gleneagles was hugely important in having a G8 statement including signatories and non-signatories of Kyoto having new language that went further than previous collective language on climate change. I would expect that is part of the continuity and evolution, and earlier there was a reference to nuclear, for example. We'll see whether we are able to advance the discussion in the G8 beyond the very carefully crafted consensus language we keep repeating. It's not unrelated to the point with respect to greenhouse gases and alternate new technologies, be they nuclear or non-nuclear. But I do think we have something left. The architecture of the direction you can see in the subject and outreach - in fact, there are eight ministerial meetings that are part of the prep for St. Petersburg for involving traditional finance and the nontraditional health, energy ministers, education ministerial, which, given the jurisdictional issues at play in his subject - not only in Canada but in the U.S. and Germany - means our partner is the Council of Ministers of Education with HRDC [Human Resources and Development Canada], which has at the federal level the responsibility for a lot of the human capital elements to this subject matter that we're talking of - each of us in our own way is reflecting our participation through our mechanisms of public responsibilities.
Kirton: Thank you. We will now go out by video conference to around Canada for about 10 minutes in Montreal, 12 in Calgary, then 12 in Toronto, returning here to Ottawa no later than 3:30 EDT. As we do so, let me remind everyone that given the shortage of time, do please send us your comments, interventions, questions to email@example.com, and we will ensure that they get inserted into the preparatory process through the Russian host. Let me thank our partners at McGill in Montreal - Professor Antonia Maioni at the Institute for the Study of Canada. Our moderator, Nigel Martin from the Forum International de Montréal and a colleague with me on the Civil 8, a process unfolding under the impressive leadership of Ella Pamfilova in the Russian Federation. In Calgary, we are hosted by the University of Calgary and the moderation of Dean Stephen Randall and at the University of Toronto with our host, Peter Hajnal, coming to you from the Peter and Melanie Munk Centre for International Studies.
[back to top]
Nigel Martin: Thank you, we missed a part of the earlier session. Please refer us to the earlier communiqué, we won't be insulted. I would like to thank our Russian visitor for an amazing experience in Moscow. It was a remarkable display of democracy at its best with full participation from a majority of Russian civil activities, and I'd like to congratulate for that, and also to congratulate Mr. Shuvalov for your always frank and honest comments we saw last year at Gleneagles as well as this year. First I would like to turn over the comments.
Thierry Berthauld, Alcan. Thanks, Mr. Shuvalov, for all your presentation. I am with Alcan and for business the leadership shown by the G8 and the momentum it gives on these issues is essential. We appreciate what the British presidency has done to integrate business, giving even more strength to the xxx communiqué and the statement by the G8. We would like to know with our specialty regarding energy and energy supply how the Russian presidency intends to associate business, both Russian business and international business to the G8 summit.
Lavoie [?]: Thank you, my question is about the issue of participation, consultation and participation of civil society. I think that there has been an important precedence in the past few years to integrate civil society into G8 preparation. In March, the large conference with the sherpas was a continuation of what strengthening of opportunities for civil society in the G8 process. What are the plans for the rest of the year? I understand there is a very strong process with domestic civil society involvement. We are here as part of the process of consultation with other G8 constituencies. There are plans along the way with consultations with other international NGOs but it is also important to have consultation mechanisms for southern civil society. Are there plans to complement the large conferences with smaller focused dialogues with the sherpas and select groups of southern civil society representatives? If I understand correctly the forum of civil society dialogue at the G8 will be in Moscow but the G8 will be in St. Petersburg. What will be the articulation and the way of getting the message across the two cities? Thank you.
Shuvalov: Thank you for the questions. Business. We started working on the issues last year. We knew about the agenda in about July last year. We started our preparation work in September and in September we had the first consultations with international investment banks and Russian energy companies, oil and gas companies. The dialogue was very intensive. The signals were different. Sometimes they didn't ... they were just controversial, but the major things were discussed with business people. Then we decided to invite international energy companies to the business forum, which was organized in Moscow as well. Unfortunately that forum was not prepared properly, We changed the dates and we thought that it would be better if business people will meet with ministers of energy who met in Moscow and we had [invited] chief executives from different companies, but mostly they sent deputies to the conference, so it was a kind of dialogue between the ministers of energy and the business people who wanted us to provide a kind of presentation about the Russian presidency, major things which Russia would like to outline in the final communiqué. We discussed energy, security of demand, security of supply, nuclear, new technologies, everything. It was a very important forum professionally. Unfortunately, again, not top managers were represented because of the dates, but we discussed the paper already with them. And business people asked us now to organize another forum maybe immediately after the summit in St. Petersburg or Moscow to agree how to proceed and how to work together on the basic principles agreed on by the leaders. So simply answering your questions we work intensively with business people and we don't understand how we could do that job without their assistance.
On the civil forum in Moscow and how we can send the message properly to the leaders that will work in St. Petersburg, the whole idea of inviting the sherpas to the civil forum is to hear your voices. When Peter, myself and others, when we always look at the paper, we need to remember what you told us to do. It doesn't mean that we will reflect everything that you are worried about, but we need to think each time about the signals we get from the NGOs. For instance, the final communiqu from the Moscow forum was studied carefully by our experts. We picked up a few things but when you look at, for instance, the nuclear issue - and many people were protesting about nuclear to be in the final version of the paper - we cannot agree with that. Our presidency process on this is different. We think that without nuclear, safe technologies, not only Russia but other countries will not be able to provide people with enough or sufficient energy for development. So sometimes we don't do exactly what you want us to do, but we will provide you with explanations why we're doing this. Our president strongly agrees that without nuclear technologies we cannot provide our economies with new technologies based on nuclear technologies. So it's a basis for further development, new technologies, new renewables, and we will need international support for that. The Canadians, Americans, French and Japanese will help us and we have completely different position from the Germans. Most of the things from the education side and others will be reflected in the final drafts, and if not they will be able to provide you with an explanation. We are doing this, and informing the leaders about the dialogue. If everything goes well then maybe Mr. Putin may be able to meet with some NGO representatives. If not it will be done immediately after.
Harder: Let me just add with a couple of comments. Canadians perhaps don't know the extent to which our moderator in McGill, Nigel Martin, has really been the leader in the development of international NGO participation in the G8. Nigel, both in Moscow, which he spoke about, and earlier in London and elsewhere, has, through his work, ensured a the capacity for civil society engagement in a number of G8 capitals, and I think this is important for Canadians to both know and acknowledge. Now, you are never finished with developing that rhythm and strengthening the opportunities for engagement, and I note the suggestions made. For our part, quite apart from the engagement that the presidency is giving leadership to, we, in preparation for the themes of the Russian presidency before Christmas, did a major seminar with the business community, did a major session on the energy sector, energy security and energy supply globally. We had international as well as Canadian players for a day-long think-in to inform our views. We've had a major session with academics. This was Russian specialists, here in the department, to do a seminar on what's gong on in Russia and how we can use the G8 presidency of the Russians and how to use Canada's position to leverage positive policy with Russia and among the G8. In addition to that we've had some specific outreach sessions, including this morning with Mr. Shuvalov and business participants here. We need to increase and make more deliberate some of this rhythm, but we need to make sure that it relates to what the presidency creates and the Canadian interest in those subjects and how we shape the development of ability to engage on those subjects.
[back to top]
Steve Randall: Thank you to Mr. Shuvalov and Mr. Harder for engaging in these consultations. We'll begin with three questions, first from Professor Pam Jordan from the University of Saskatchewan.
Pam Jordan, University of Saskatchewan: As this year's G8 president, does Russia plan to introduce nuclear nonproliferation initiatives?
Catherine Little from Results Canada: On education, thank you very much for having education high on the agenda again. And Mr. Putin's op-ed was in The Globe and Mail. I'm referring to basic education. As you referred to previously in Kananaskis, Gleneagles, they spoke about Education For All and the Fast Track Initiative and, as you've mentioned, there has been some lack of follow-up and commitments on that. I would like to add the discussion on the catalytic fund. There has been some movement forward - but these are all World Bank initiatives. And so what is lacking is some of the G8 countries coming up onside with money. I am happy to report that out of the UK today, Gordon Brown has announced $15 billion over the next 10 years to go to global education - four times their funding in the previous decade - and he challenges both the EU and his G8 partners to come up with the same kinds of funds. Comments on what is realistic this year?
Michal Moore, Institute for Sustainable Energy, Environment and Economy: The phrase of energy security encompasses a wide range of topics including physical infrastructure, markets and capital investment and ultimately consumer prices. Will the G8 leadership consider the creation of an international infrastructure and development consortium similar to the IMF [International Monetary Fund] or the World Bank whose interest is to investment in new energy generation and distribution systems tailored to developing economies. I'm not just talking about another export model for energy resources in developing nations. The value of such an enterprise would be reflected in appropriate scale facilities, the encouragement of new investment in capital facilities, diversity of supply including renewable resources, and possible help in creating appropriate regulatory institutions that might govern the development of facilities in those countries.
Shuvalov: Nuclear. We would like to connect nuclear power with nonproliferation and with the issue of energy poverty. President Putin this year announced a few initiatives and I'm not sure whether we're able to commit to these initiatives during the summit. But we will work on it. The Americans now have a similar approach to this. Then we will discuss it with my colleagues and later on we will decide whether we can include it in the communiqu. We think that - we believe that - that poor countries or developing countries have to get access to nuclear energy, but always the issue of nonproliferation will be raised. In order to avoid that and not to let these countries to get dangerous technologies how to enrich uranium, the Russian president suggests that international nuclear centres set up by nuclear powers. These international centres would deal with enrichment of uranium, with recycling the uranium after the use of it and training the staff for the power stations. It can be done on a commercial basis. The states that would like to build power stations can invest into these centres or become shareholders and share profits. The main idea is to provide these countries with fuel, technologies and the ability to build power stations, but to avoid proliferation of enrichment technologies. And then used fuel should be again transferred to the nuclear powers and not left within these countries. We believe it will help countries to develop nuclear around the world, ease access to nuclear, cheaper energy and it will solve the problem of nonproliferation.
Then the question about education: New money, additional funding. I don't want to be very pessimistic but last year they announced US$50 billion for Africa. It sounds very attractive but in reality it means that most existing commitments were confirmed and wrapped in a beautiful contest. When they said $50 billion more to education we need to double check what it means in reality. Additional money must be invested - there's no doubt about this - but through efficient mechanisms and we need to understand for what purposes that money needs to be spent. Again for poor countries, African countries, basic education is an important thing. We need to invest money every year for that. But what we think is more important at this stage is to provide these people with higher and more professional education through modern technologies and different aid programs and so on and so forth, education or knowledge and skills to help develop their own economies in the future.
Energy security: we are not thinking about any new international body to deal with energy security or to invest globally. In my personal position, we need to develop existing bodies like the IEA, the IMF, the World Bank, whatever, and only if we cannot avoid it we must talk then about new bodies and mechanisms. We have a lot of multinational organizations and we need to use them efficiency and not create new bureaucracy. It's awful. When you talk to people from the OECD, the IEA, it doesn't help at all. To think that creating something new it will be more efficient is a big mistake. If my colleagues think otherwise we will somehow create something or we will suggest to the leaders to think about this.
[back to top]
Peter Hajnal: Welcome to everybody from the Munk Centre at the University of Toronto, and particularly to Mr. Shuvalov and Mr. Harder, who both have shown tremendous commitment to outreach and dialogue. Like my colleague Nigel Martin in Montreal, I too had the good fortune of attending the Civil 8 and was impressed by the new level to which the Russian hosts are taking this dialogue. In the interest of time, I would like to turn to questions from the floor. We have to do this without the benefit of hearing the initial presentation by the sherpas. Also, because of technological constraints, I will ask those who will ask questions to be very brief and to come here to the podium, identify themselves and limit their questions or comments.
Leo Adler. I also had good fortune to be in Moscow and took part in the personal security committee. My question is this: we know that Gleneagles was overshadowed by suicide terrorism and ultimately as long as suicide terrorism continues to be rampant and international in scope, other issues have to keep an eye open for it. The question is how to cope and hopefully overcome it. The security committee passed a resolution that there should be 12 victims invited from around the world to give nonpolitical, human face-type of statements of the impact of this scourge to speak briefly and meet the leaders and for the leaders to pass a statement of principle on this. Is this likely?
John Dillon, Kairos: My question has to do with partial fulfillment of important promise made at Gleneagles and how that will make difficult the fulfillment at St. Petersburg. I'm referring to the G8 promise to offer debt relief at HIPCs [heavily indebted poor countries]. I've looked at the intersection between HIV/AIDS and debt and poverty and have discovered a close correlation. According to the data available, optimistically by the middle of this year, the G8 debt relief plan will only receive 13% of the debt of the 62 countries of AIDS, poverty and by debt. How will the St. Petersburg Summit advance the need for 100% debt cancellation, so resources now being drained from developing countries can be used to face the urgent needs of the AIDS pandemic of which education is a crucial part?
Murray Stewart, President of the Energy Council of Canada. I have a supplemental question: you mentioned as far as energy security supply and demand in terms of not creating a new international body that can do some of these things. My question is: do you feel there is a need for new international agreements along the line of the IEA strategic oil reserve? Do you see that as necessary for other energy commodities or do you see that as being satisfied by global market mechanisms?
Meg French, UNICEF. I had a follow-up question. You mentioned the Junior G8. Can you provide more details on status on planning. Where is Canada on the selection process and ensuring that we using best practice for selection?
Shuvalov: I'm sorry. I didn't follow properly the first question about 12 people being able to speak with leaders at St. Petersburg - is it people who are relatives to victims, or what?
Adler: The idea was that there be 12 people. Either they have been wounded or they are survivors of people who have died around the world of suicide terrorism to give a human face. There has never been a gathering of victims, and we felt that having these representatives - one from Canada, Russia, etc., - from around the world make a statement of principle to talk about suicide terrorism and its impact...
Shuvalov: We didn't think about this. Maybe it is a good idea. We have to circulate this idea among ourselves and then we will report to the leaders. It's not easy at all to meet with these people I think, because the agenda is very time consuming and we have just two days. Then terror. I can answer easily. I like the question. We need to think twice before doing this. It could be dangerous. We need to discuss among ourselves and then report to the leaders.
Then debt. We agreed about HIPC countries last year and Russia wrote down all the debts to HIPC countries. We fulfilled our obligations. It's already appeared in U.S. dollars. And with Russia, it's OK. This year we negotiated with Paris Club partners whether it is possible to pay back earlier $12 billion this year and this money saved sent for development issues. That's not easy. Germany, for instance, does not agree that Russia can pay money back earlier than scheduled before. But Russia is ready to pay now and to use that money for development issues. Finance ministers discussed that issue in Moscow when they met at the beginning of the year and again later when they meet again in Russia on the eve of the summit. We are pursuing in this and all G8 countries agreed the debts of the poorest countries should be forgotten, should be written down.
Treaty. International treaty: I like this idea. Reserves, oil and gas reserves and how to provide through those reserves the stability and the ultimate meaning of security. My personal idea is it's a good idea, but it's not accepted by everyone. Experts should discuss wider, through the conferences and different dialogues they can use. It's a very important thing we should bear in mind, Peter, through international treaty, monitor gas and oil reserves and using those reserves for security purposes. We don't have ultimate decision for that. It's an issue which should be discussed very actively.
J8. The J8 was started last year by the British. But they - it was a very low-profile process. They had a scheme how to select young kids from schools and it was planned that on one of the days during the summit young kids would present their ideas to the leaders. Unfortunately because of the terror attack in London Prime Minister Blair had to go to London and everything changed and the format changed and plans were broken and the young people did not meet the leaders. I like the idea very much. In Russia we made that program national. We started it recently and we have a live TV show on one of the national channels. We have young kids from age 13 to 17 and they have to be just normal, not very talented, normal active kids. The explanation is very simple: politicians are not necessarily the most talented people. They are people who can deal quickly with different challenges and maybe quicker and more efficiently than most talented people in some areas. It's a kind of a game and done in a very active [way] and people vote through free telephone calls from all the towns in Russia. The first program we had more than 300,000 telephone calls. So we will have eight young people selected by the people who call, then we anticipate that every country from G8 - in Canada you'll have your own selection process - and your team of eight people who will come to a small town called Puskhin - like our famous poet, Alexander Pushkin - and so eight national teams, 56 people and young people from poor countries, they will get together in Pushkin town. They will spend two weeks and work on the same issues - energy security, education and infectious diseases. They will try to draft communiqus and their own approach on how to save the world. Then each national team will need to vote for one representative from 8 people. So ultimately it will be international eight young junior eight that will meet on the 17th in the morning with the leaders to present their views on dealing with the issues. It will be covered by MTV International and it will be shown in each G8 country. I think it's very useful for common people who are not sophisticated and good for young people. We have a slogan now saying that: Choosing Junior Eight we're choosing the future.
Harder: I would just like to answer something from Calgary. The questions from Calgary raised two instinctive reactions among sherpas. One is no more new institutions. Let's see how we can task existing institutions to adapt to the demands that we see having a need that are unaddressed. Last year you see where we mandated IEA and OECD in two ways and funded them to do follow-up work that we felt necessary in the work that was done in the Gleneagles Summit. New institutions would have a high threshold to gain G8 support. The second is the G8 allergy, or at least the sherpa allergy, to what we call beauty contests - that is to show how my country is far more generous than your country in meeting commitments. At the same time we engage civil society to add pressure to governments to respond to the funding requirements that are identified in the pandemics for HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, polio, development needs, etc. There's a dialectic between how we positions ourselves individually and collectively as an institution that's relevant to galvanize leadership on these funding requirements, but at the same time don't debase the currency that could, in a University of Toronto analysis, show that the verbal commitments weren't exactly delivered on. One of the discussions we had at the last meeting was to make sure that we have some kind of a reporting process on the Gleneagles Summit before we start taking on additional commitments. You would not imagine the amount of discussion that we had on the footnote of the Africa Plan, which John will research, because from the Canadian perspective we wanted to make sure what we said we would do we have put in train to do. I would be frank and say that I have less confidence in some of my colleagues who will remain unnamed but will be having an election today.
NPT [he Nonproliferation Treaty] - to supplement what Igor said. I can't imagine the issues of Iran and India not finding their way into the discussion as another angle into the conversation that you predict.
With respect to Toronto, Mr. Adler, you and I discussed this in Moscow, but we haven't had a sherpa meeting since for me to share some of your ideas and perspectives. At the time there was also the notion of suicide bombing as a crime against humanity, which doesn't have a lot of enthusiasm given existing international commitments and treaties and criminal code - which, in the view, of our lawyers provide the kind of profile on this issue. The issue that you're raising today is one that we have to take on board and discuss with our colleagues.
With respect to the discussion on energy and the reserves, there's also the attention that is being discussed by energy ministers, we had the JODI initiative transparency and the oil sector, and there is some discussion in the energy sector whether that transparency shouldn't be spread to other energy commodities. That has some challenges just by virtue of how those get reported. But I think that what the focus at the experts' level has been is bringing to the energy security and debate transparency information that is credible and has a long-term commitment to transparent information as the basis of at least policy development.
With respect to debt these issues are jealously guarded by our G7 finance colleagues. Frankly our leaders don't mind that. Canada's position on HIPC is 100% debt forgiveness and we welcome the Russian debt prepayment. We have participated in the G7 finance ministers discussions, through minister meetings and the finance sherpas process. Finally, with respect to the J8, this is something the Russian presidency had earlier suggested Morgan Stanley might be a venue for a selection process. There is, on the Stanley Morgan website, some Canadian processes that have taken place. We're reviewing how we can use that or adapt it, but I can assure Canadian young people will be there to participate and show us all how well placed our future is.
Kirton: Thank you very much. In our remaining minute, I have three points to make. First, in response to Peter, I'd like to make a solemn commitment that those of us at the University of Toronto will be changing, especially as we receive the resources that we so richly deserve. As I speak, G8 research centres are being launched elsewhere, in the Russian Federation, with compliance monitoring of G8 commitments as their fist task. So from both sides of the Arctic Circle, we will be watching you and what we get wrong on this side our friends on the Russian Federation will no doubt get right on theirs. I know that I speak on behalf of Igor and Peter as I thank everyone for the important contribution to this G8 and those beyond. This is but a down payment - so do keep your insights coming to use by email and other ways. On behalf of civil society, thank you, Igor and Peter for doing this and taking the initiative in making sure it is done so well. Thank you to Igor and his sherpa team and the experts council led by Elvira Nabiullina, so we welcome you. With that, all we can say is good luck and Godspeed as you move on to meet with our many friends in the U.S., Japan and beyond.
[back to top]
|This Information System is provided by the University of Toronto Library and the G7 Research Group at the University of Toronto.|
Please send comments to:
This page was last updated April 11, 2007.
All contents copyright © 2018. University of Toronto unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.