The impact of the economic crisis on developing countries and the cross sector approach to sustainable development are the main themes of the G8 Development Ministers’ Meeting organized for the first time by Italy. Some measures were announced at the recent G20 summit in London (2 April) that should respond over the short-term to the difficulties developing countries are facing. Much remains to be done however, particularly on behalf of the most vulnerable and indebted of those countries. The G8 regains its importance here as the main international forum for discussions on the real economy and development.
Africa will play a leading role in the meeting, entitled “G8 Development Ministers’ Meeting, Global Governance for Global Solidarity”, and have an opportunity to make its voice heard, as it will also at the L’Aquila summit. Italy has decided to enlarge the traditional Heiligendamm format (the 5 emerging economies of Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa) to include Egypt, and to invite the African Union (duty presidency: Libya, and Commission) and NePAD (represented by its duty presidency, Ethiopia and 5 members of the Steering Committee: in addition to South Africa and Egypt, Senegal, Nigeria and Algeria). This is the first time these countries will have the opportunity to participate in a G8 Development Ministers Meeting—a decision also in keeping with Italy’s development strategy. Also invited are representatives of the UNDESA, the OECD, the World Bank, FAO, IFAD, WFP, the WHO, the African Development Bank and the Bioversity.
Associated with the first theme are the results of two previous events: the EU General Affairs and External Relations/Development Council of 18 and 19 May, and the early June United Nations High Level Conference on the crisis’ consequences on developing countries. The culmination of these discussions will be July’s summit in L’Aquila. The Development Ministers’ Meeting could thus provide a moment in which development discussions in various forums could flow together and open the way to the heads of state and government summary in L’Aquila.
As regard the cross-sector approach to sustainable development, the goal is to harmonise development cooperation interventions in various sectors (education, environment, health and food security) by creating synergies, with a view to optimizing available resources and building scale economies. The four priorities of the Italian G8 presidency—food security, education, healthcare and water— fall within this context.