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University of Toronto

Gleneagles Official Documents

Prime Minister Blair's Statement
on the G8 Gleneagles Summit

Update to Parliament, London, July 11, 2005
With your permission, Mr Speaker, I would like to make a statement on the G8 Summit which I chaired at Gleneagles last week.

There were two major issues on the agenda for this summit - Africa and Climate Change. These subjects were chosen because they represent huge problems for the world which require concerted action by the international community. Africa is the only continent which, without change, will not meet any of the Millennium Development Goals. Although there are success stories in Africa, four million children under five die in Africa every year. Three thousand children die a day from malaria. Fifty million Africa children don't go to primary school. Life expectancy is plummeting - by 2010 it will be down to just 27 years in some countries. Africa is an immediate moral cause which commands our attention.

Climate Change is perhaps the most long-term serious threat to our environment. Already sea ice in the Arctic has shrunk by one million square kilometres; the ten hottest years on record have all occurred since 1991; and sea levels are rising. Until now the international community has been divided, with no agreement on the nature or urgency of the problem, what to do about it, or how to start a discussion which would involve both the United States and the key emerging economies such as India and China.

The Commission for Africa, which I established last year, set out a comprehensive plan for dealing with the Continent's problems. At Gleneagles we agreed a doubling of aid for Africa by $25 billion a year by 2010, as part of an overall increase of $50 billion for all developing countries, which will start to flow immediately. This was made possible by a series of new pledges by G8 partners in the weeks before the summit - notably, the European Union's aid increase of an extra $38 billion, the American and Canadian decisions to double aid to Africa, and Japan's pledge of an additional $10 billion over the next five years. This is a mighty achievement, not just for the Summit but for the millions of decent people world-wide who have campaigned so long and hard. I would like to thank not only fellow leaders but my RHF the Development Secretary and most particularly my RHF the Chancellor for their work in securing this.

In addition again, thanks to the work of my RHF the Chancellor of the Exchequer, we agreed to cancel 100% of the multilateral debts of the Highly Indebted Poor Countries. This could amount to a total of $55 billion of relief. We also agreed a special package of debt cancellation for Nigeria worth around $17 billion.

The G8 put particular emphasis on health and education in Africa. We agreed free primary education and basic health care for all. We agreed specific measures:

But this help will not make a difference unless we also take action to end conflict and create conditions of stability. That means above all supporting the African Union's ability to deploy its forces to prevent and resolve conflicts. We confirmed our commitment to train and equip 75,000 troops by 2010, mainly for Africa, including for the 20,000 strong AU Stand-By Force.

On trade, we agreed that we should establish a credible end date for agricultural export subsidies. The British Government wants the Hong Kong World Trade Ministerial meeting to agree an end date of 2010 and I believe on the basis of my discussions last week that this is possible. We also agreed at Gleneagles concrete measures to build Africa's capacity to trade and recognised poor countries' need to determine their own economic and trade policies.

This was the most detailed and ambitious package for Africa ever agreed by the G8. But none of it can be implemented and improve the lives of African citizens without significant improvements in standards of governance, transparency and accountability. This is a partnership, not an act of charity. In the end, only Africans can lead and shape Africa. We can help but every government in Africa that betrays the principles of good governance betrays Africa. The G8 unanimously deplored recent developments in Zimbabwe. The UN Secretary General told us that his envoy, Anna Tibaijuka, will report back to the UNSC within days.

This summit of itself cannot end poverty in Africa. But it should mark a turning point. I pay tribute to the organisations around the world who care passionately about Africa and who made their voice heard to the G8 leaders in the run-up to Gleneagles. It was a remarkable and brilliantly led campaign by people who have long demonstrated their commitment and I particularly praise the contribution of Make Poverty History and the organisers of Live 8. Faith groups, schools, businesses and many millions of concerned people attached to no formal organisation, made their demands, protested for them reasonably and gave political leaders the support they needed to turn a campaign into a victory.

In respect of climate change, our discussion included the leaders of China, India, Brazil, South Africa and Mexico.

We were able to do four things. First we agreed that Climate Change was indeed a problem, with human activity contributing to it. Second, that we had to tackle it with urgency. Third, that in order to do that, we have to slow down, stop and in time reverse greenhouse gas emissions. Gleneagles adopted an action plan to exploit cleaner technologies which meet our energy needs and safeguard the climate, including measures to develop technologies such as bioenergy and cleaner coal, to promote energy efficiency, and to finance investment in clean technologies in emerging economies.

Fourth, we put in place a new dialogue involving the G8, the emerging economies and the key international institutions to create a pathway to a post Kyoto agreement, so that when Kyoto expires after 2012, the world can act with unity. The new Dialogue between the G8 + 5 and others will have its first meeting in the UK in November.

The G8 also gave its strong support to the Middle East Peace Process and pledged its support for a package of assistance of up to $3 billion a year for Palestine. We gave warm backing to the mission of Jim Wolfensohn, the Quartet's envoy for disengagement, who reported to us at the summit. I continue to think that progress in the Middle East between Israelis and Palestinians is an enormous part of creating a fairer and more secure world.

Inevitably, some will be disappointed with aspects of the G8 Summit. But on any realistic basis, on the two hardest issues on the international agenda, there was progress, in the case of Africa immense progress. We now have to build on this, using our EU Presidency at the UN Summit in September and in Hong Kong in December.

Of course the task is now to implement what has been agreed. But assume we can. If so, millions of children will not die when otherwise they would have. Africa will change its destiny from one of decline to advance. The values of democracy, freedom and the rule of law will be strengthened further still. And on the environment, today's largest economy can achieve agreement with the largest economies of tomorrow to get the framework, technology and policy in place to reverse the threat of global warming.

Such progress, if achieved, would be the most poignant and powerful riposte to the forces of terrorism.

Source: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office

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