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Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a great honour to be here today, on behalf of the Italian Government, to welcome you to the G8+5 Academies Meeting. I would like to thank President of the Accademia dei Lincei Professor Giovanni Conso and Vice President Professor Lamberto Maffei for having hosted this important event. I congratulate them and the entire staff of the Accademia dei Lincei—an extraordinary temple of culture—for the excellent job they have done organising this meeting. I am also very pleased to welcome the Minister of Cultural Heritage of Italy, the Honourable Sandro Bondi, whose presence here is a clear demonstration of our government’s broad-based support for this initiative.
As President of the G8, we are convinced that the G8+5 Academies Meeting is one of the most significant events of our calendar. Its traditional aim is to bring in-depth analysis to key global issues and to draft a final report that is later submitted to the attention of the Leaders’ Summit.
The Italian Presidency of the G8 is fully committed to addressing the challenges that the globalised world is currently facing, in particular the financial and economic crisis. Our primary responsibility, as representatives of the world’s most industrialised countries, is to work together and to coordinate our efforts to restore hope and confidence in the people, seizing the opportunity that this crisis offers us to establish the basic principles and rules for new governance. From this perspective, our actions should be inspired by renewed ethical impetus.
In order to contribute to shaping the future international governance of the financial sector, the latest European Council was able to define a common EU position ahead of the G20 Summit to be held in London on 2 April.
Indeed, globalisation requires an appropriate framework in order to be beneficial for every country, especially those least developed. Bearing this objective in mind, and considering that global challenges require global responses, Italy plans to launch an innovative format for the G8 Summit at La Maddalena, based on a stable and structured association of the five major emerging economies. Therefore, at La Maddalena we intend to dedicate much more time to the joint efforts of the G8 and the G5, and as President we also intend to include Egypt in light of its quality as an African, Arab and predominantly Muslim nation. I am therefore pleased to see that the Accademia dei Lincei has endorsed our approach by inviting the President and representatives of the Egyptian Academy as observers to this event, in addition to the representatives of the G5 Academies.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The G8+5 Academies Meeting is an extraordinary cultural event, and indeed culture can have a decisive role in helping us to understand the world we live in. Culture is a natural vehicle of “dialogue” and “inclusiveness”—two of the Italian G8 Presidency’s key words. This meeting is an opportunity to bring together prestigious panellists representing some of the most important academies of the world. I am sure that your debate will result in interesting indications regarding the two topics that are the focus of today’s agenda: “international migration” and “new technologies for energy production and conservation”.
As one of globalisation’s most visible challenges, migration is one of the Italian G8 Presidency’s primary concerns. Migration represents both opportunity and enrichment, and implies the responsibility of all parties concerned: destination countries, countries of origin and transit, and migrants themselves. It also implies building solid partnerships to effectively combat illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings, assist refugees, foster professional training for legal migrants, reduce the health impact of migration on the workforce of poor countries, facilitate a more effective use of migrant remittances, and reduce the costs of such transactions, in order to free up resources for development.
Italy strongly supports what is known as the “global approach” to migration launched by the European Union in 2005, and recently reaffirmed by the European Pact on Immigration and Asylum in 2008. These initiatives strengthened the idea that migration cannot be tackled only on a security basis or unilaterally. The approach calls for economic and social integration and the concerted efforts of countries of origin, transit and destination, thus linking security with development policies.
The EU has already achieved major results in this direction. In terms of illegal immigration, for instance, new legislation has recently been introduced establishing common rules for the repatriation of illegal migrants. Moreover, regulations that impose sanctions on their employers are likely to be approved soon. At the same time, new initiatives are being launched to promote “mobility partnerships” with the countries concerned and to facilitate economic migration were the necessary security and legal conditions are met. Italy is fully committed to supporting this policy and to working with third countries of origin to enhance its effectiveness.
Immigration is a fairly recent problem in Italy, and it is remarkable that in a relatively short period of time we have been able to outline and enact efficient policies aimed at the orderly management of migratory flows. Within a medium-term perspective, complete success will depend on our ability to implement consistent policies that offer opportunities to foreigners legally residing in Italy, while combating illegal immigration and trafficking in human beings.
Along with migration, it is undeniable that the energy issue is one of the most complex challenges of our times, and that there are significant interconnections between energy security and climate change. As G8 President, we consider these as parts of the same problem.
The International Conference on climate change, scheduled for this December in Copenhagen, is the deadline the international community has set for achieving a post-2012 global agreement to fight climate change. The Italian Presidency of the G8 is ready to contribute to the fulfilment of this task by making La Maddalena Summit an important stepping-stone towards Copenhagen. In this respect, we intend to propose the EU climate-energy package as a model ahead of the UN Conference.
To be successful, the fight against climate change should fulfil two main requirements: it should be global—involving all major players—and should establish a framework for a gradual shift towards a sustainable, low-carbon society in the near future. To advance along this path, clean technologies for energy production and consumption are fundamental elements.
Moreover, developed country governments need to foster new approaches to energy-related problems by diversifying their respective energy mixes and favouring the development, use and diffusion of low-carbon technologies. This will not only increase the availability of resources and strengthen energy security, but also contribute to curbing greenhouse gas emissions.
Despite our commitment to developing renewable energy sources, reliable projections indicate that fossil fuels will remain an essential source of energy in the years ahead, especially in developing countries. With this in mind, new technologies that allow for a more efficient use of traditional sources should also be developed and implemented. I am referring, in particular, to CCS (Carbon Capture and Storage).
Italy relies heavily on energy efficiency and is currently reconsidering the use of nuclear energy as an important instrument for diversifying its energy mix, which will contribute to increasing energy security and reducing carbon emissions.
Climate change is a serious challenge for developing countries as well, where the need to promote economic growth and raise living standards should be coupled with effective strategies for tackling climate change. Clean technologies can provide developing countries with a better opportunity to fight poverty and ensure basic energy for all.
Climate change and energy are becoming increasingly central issues for global security and geo-political balances. The transition towards a low-carbon society should be considered not only as an environmental or economic issue, but also as a key factor in the development of new international governance. Joint international efforts should continue on the research, development and demonstration of clean technologies. From this perspective, the G8+5 Academies Meeting could make a significant contribution to the international debate on energy-related matters, and offer a broader scope for alternative energy sources.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Migration and energy are closely linked to the issue of development, which is another of the Italian G8 Presidency’s priorities. Therefore, allow me to conclude with a few words on this point.
The need to address poverty, hunger, access to water and global health problems must not become less of a priority because of the economic crisis. The Italian Presidency intends to maintain dialogue on these issues with the developing countries—and Africa in particular—as the centrepiece of the G8 agenda. The international economy cannot be expected to enjoy steady and sustainable growth without taking into account the needs of developing countries and Africa.
In accordance with the Accra Agenda and the Doha Conference conclusions Italy intends to promote an innovative approach to development, based on the involvement of all the relevant actors and resources: not only Official Development Assistance but also investments, public/private partnerships, innovative financing mechanisms, private foundations and the active involvement of the civil society. This “whole of country” approach does not involve stepping back from our traditional commitments. Instead, it recognises that public aid, per se, is not enough to fight poverty. It also means that industrialised and emerging nations must collaborate on buffering the impact of the economic crisis on developing countries.
The Italian G8 Presidency is fully committed to tackling all of these challenges, with the aim of offering concrete responses to the international community’s growing expectations. We will duly take into account the results of your discussions, which will be brought to the attention of the Leaders at La Maddalena’s Summit.
I thank you very much for your kind attention and wish you a fruitful work session.