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Keeping Sustainable Development Commitments:
The Recent G7 Record

Ella Kokotsis

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Munich Summit, 1992


The Munich communique called on G7 countries to provide for additional support to developing countries, particularly by replenishment of IDA, as well as actions of global benefit through the GEF. Following from this, Canada agreed to join other donor countries in making more money available for sustainable development projects. Canada fulfilled its summit commitment by contributing CDN$830 million to IDA, with promises to contribute to its next replenishment. (Buxton, 1992; 791)

The communique welcomed the enhanced debt relief extended to the poorest countries, and attached great importance to the enhanced use of voluntary debt conversion, including debt conversions for environmental initiatives. In response to this pledge, Canada offered to erase the CDN$145 million owed to it by 10 Latin Americans nations, provided that they spend equal amounts on their rain forests and other environmental activities. Under this arrangement, "Canada, through CIDA, would convert this amount to local currency to fund environmental and sustainable development projects". (Buxton, 1992; 792)

Moreover, in its efforts to begin the implementation of the conventions signed at the Earth Summit and reiterated in the Munich communique, Canada agreed to contribute CDN$2 million to UNDP in funding projects in Third World countries to plan their own sustainable development programmes. In addition, Canada contributed CDN$115 million to the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) so that it may broaden its mandate in the area of sustainable development.

In line with the communique's commitment to "increase the quantity and quality of official development assistance", Prime Minister Mulroney reiterated his Rio promise to raising Canada's foreign aid from 0.45% of GNP - the second highest among the G7 (behind France) - to 0.7% by the year 2000. Canada would have to thus double its spending on foreign aid to meet the year-2000 target. These figures indicated that the Canadian government was considering concrete measures to assist developing countries which owed an estimated US$1,281 billion to the industrialized countries in 1992, and were paying US$50 billion a year in interest charges alone. (Ibid)

Among the other G7 countries, Germany indicated that development assistance would be increased by US$635 million between 1993-1995. With respect to the 0.7% target for development assistance, however, Germany was reluctant to commit itself, arguing that it was facing fiscal constraints. (German Tribune, May 29, 1992) France and Italy were keen on making a binding commitment to spend 0.7% of GNP on development assistance by the year 2000. French President Francois Mitterand agreed that the French government would increase development assistance from the 1992 level of 0.56% (the highest among the G7), to the target rate of 0.7%. Similar to Germany, Britain offered to provide between US$215-320 million in development assistance to the less developed countries, but argued that it would be difficult to commit itself to the 0.7% target due to economic obstacles. The European Community pledged US$4 billion to further these commitments. (Ottawa Citizen, OC, June 14, 1992)

Japan's overall financial contribution to the Earth Summit was approximately US$9 billion, the largest among the G7 countries. At the time of the Earth Summit, Japan's contribution to development assistance amounted to 0.3% of GNP. In Rio, and again following the Munich summit, however, Prime Minister Miyazawa committed Japan to increasing its development assistance to 0.7%, but without agreeing to a specified target date.

Development commitments made at the Munich summit appear to be more difficult to quantify, based on the vague and unexplicit terminology adopted in the communique. Although committing to increasing the quality and quantity of aid to the LDCs, there were no definable monetary goals set by the leaders in the declaration. Although the G7 made substantial monetary contributions to the replenishment of IDA and agreed to terms for voluntary debt conversions, Germany and the United Kingdom did not recommit themselves to increasing the level of ODA to 0.7% of GNP. Canada committed itself to reaching the 0.7% target for ODA, made significant contributions to IDA and also extended debt relief to the poorest countries in Latin America.

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