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Civil Society and Expanded Dialogue Unit

Interview with
Jürgen Maier
Director, German NGO Forum Environment and Development

James Nicholas Tay
Analyst, Civil Society and Expanded Dialgoue Unit, G8 Research Group
23 January 2007

The German NGO Forum on Environment & Development's main focus is to prepare joint NGO position papers and strategies, as well as to coordinate the input of German NGOs into the international negotiation processes. In addition, the forum provides networking services for German non-governmental organisations working on issues of national, European and international climate policy.

G8RG: Has your organization participated in previous G8 Summits? If so, what are the main activities, projects, or policies that your organization focuses on at Summits?

Maier: We participated in the Civil G8 process in Russia last year. We also previously participated in a lot of activities at the G8 summit in Germany (Cologne 1999). Our focus for 2007 is media relations, and the organization of various conferences in 2006/07 with and without the participation of government officials and Sherpas. We also plan to participate in the alternative summit at this year's G8 Summit.

G8RG: What is the focus of your organization for this year's summit? In other words, what are your goals or desired outcomes for the summit?

Maier: Our focus is to point out the strategies and policies of German NGOs relating to the G8 agenda issues, and furthermore, put pressure on Germany and the other G8 governments to come as close as possible to these policies.

G8RG: What do you think are the prospects for civil society groups to influence the 2007 G8 Summit agenda? Do you feel G8 leaders adequately address your proposals or concerns?

Maier: So far G8 leaders have been inadequately addressing NGO concerns and proposals. Our goal is to try to create a political situation where this can change.

G8RG: How do you feel about the German presidency of the G8? Are you optimistic about the prospects of the Heiligendamm summit?

Maier: It depends on your point of view. Thus far, civil society participation has been inadequate, and has not lived up to expectations set by Russia last year. Furthermore, without fundamental changes in their policies, the G8 leaders will not be successful in reaching the goals of their agenda. For example, the energy agenda adopted last year cannot contribute to a sustainable energy system but only to massive GHG emissions increases.

G8RG: Do you feel as if NGOs are cooperating to impact certain policies? If so, which policies or themes of the G8 agenda have NGOs responded to the most strongly?

Maier: Yes, NGOs are cooperating, with the energy/climate and Africa issues motivating many of them to do so.

G8RG: Are there any other issues that you would urge the G8 to focus on that were left out this year?

Maier: The issues that they are addressing are more or less the right ones, apart from too little emphasis on the alarming erosion of biodiversity and natural resources on the planet. Also, there are no current UN negotiations, for instance to address the alarming pace of destruction of forests and fisheries. This then would be an opportunity for the G8 to step in and give some impulses. However, since some of the main culprits like Japan with its fisheries or Canada and Russia with its forests are at the G8 table, there is apparently not enough political will to do so.

G8RG: Lastly, do you have any additional thoughts, comments, reflections, or predictions on the Summit?

Maier: There is probably going to be very little substantial results, since on most issues the G8 governments disagree strongly among themselves.

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The G8 Research Group thanks 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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