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G8 and Africa | Civil Society | Climate Change | Expanded Dialogue

See also G8 Online 2005

Interview with
Mark Wilson
Executive Director, The PANOS Institute

London, 30 June 2005

PANOS is a non-governmental organization that attempts to stimulate public debate around development issues in order to foster sustainable development. PANOS also works to promote an enabling media and communications environment worldwide, especially in those locations most affected by development issues. PANOS has brought a team of African journalists to cover the events of the 2005 Gleneagles Summit.

G8RG: Are you expecting any breakthroughs on the issue of climate change at the upcoming G8 summit in Gleneagles? What action would you like to see the G8 take on climate change?

Mark Wilson: Movement, yes; breakthroughs, no!

Relating the climate change discussions to those on the other main agenda item - Africa - the UK Government's 'Commission for Africa Report' highlights that 'climate change poses a major threat to Africa's future' and points out that 'Africa is not a driver of climate change but a victim'. This reflects a growing realisation that the anti-poverty measures being developed could be undermined by the increasing effects of climate change, so these effects must be included in development goals.

On a wider front, it is clear that the climate change discussions are often confused on means and ends. Many environmentalists and scientists believe that  the US administration is in denial about the problem, whilst also clearly disagreeing with the means the international community has agreed to start tackling it: the Kyoto Protocol. At a minimum therefore, there must be agreement at the G8 that climate change is a scientific reality that requires action to combat it.

In terms of what that action might be, Prime Minister Blair has already publicly recognised the impossibility of getting the US Government to sign up to the Kyoto Protocol, and therefore additional, alternate means to combat climate change - in addition to Kyoto - must be found that the US and Australia - the other holdout - will back. This is crucial not only because of the scale of carbon emissions by the US and Australia, but because of the impact on getting large developing countries to join in with emissions reductions as soon as possible. With leaders of large developing countries such as China and India attending G8, it is difficult to see any breakthroughs occurring that establish significant additional means of combating climate change that are acceptable to the US and do not undermine Kyoto.

Specific positive outcomes from the G8 could include adoption of the proposals tabled to combat illegal logging and money on the table for Africa to adapt to the effects of climate change. However, given US intransigence, UK Government statements on climate change have weakened in recent months which could reflect a waning resolve for action.  

G8RG: Are you expecting any breakthroughs from the G8 on fighting HIV/AIDS? What action would you like to see the G8 take on the fight against HIV/AIDS?

Mark Wilson: The expectation must be that the G8 tackles HIV/AIDS within its panoply of recommendations on Africa; but that no major breakthroughs take place. We would like to see:

1. New commitment to the Global Fund and the replenishment of funds (yesterday's announcement of the failure to meet the 3 x 5 targets is a recognition of how far we have to go).

2. Given the spectacular failure in controlling the pandemic, we would like to see G8 governments tackle the hard issues of building improved coordination in their international response; and incorporating a much greater role for civil society at the national level. Much of the top level discourse does little to acknowledge the role of civil society - and from Panos' perspective this is a continuing and central problem in why the overall efforts to  contain and beat back the HIV/AIDS pandemic are proving so difficult.

The G8 Research Group would like to thank all the organizations and individuals
who participated in interviews.
The views expressed herein do not reflect the views of the G8 Research Group.

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