Today, I’m packing my bags and heading off to Enniskillen in Northern Ireland for the G8 Summit.
The annual gathering of the ‘Group of 8’ - the club of some of the world’s most powerful nations – always attracts protesters and the global media, and concludes with a grand statement and the obligatory family photo.
This year will be no different, but it’s been eight years since I have witnessed the spectacle. Oxfam will be in Enniskillen to deliver one message to the G8 - that it’s time to put an end to the scandal of world hunger.
Above: G8 leaders (well, the Oxfam 'Big Head' versions) arrive in Northern Ireland ahead of the G8 Summit on June 17th and 18th 2013. Check out this Flickr gallery for more photos from their trip.
Whilst the G20 may have overtaken the G8 as the biggest show in town, this year’s G8 Summit has been given a higher billing than the last few years. It has also sparked interest from a coalition of over 200 charities across the island of Ireland and in Britain, who have formed a major campaign on hunger called IF.
For the 2013 Summit, the UK is sitting in the Chair’s seat, and British Prime Minister David Cameron has touted this as the ‘most ambitious G8 yet’.
He has promised to get the G8’s own house in order on three of the big issues affecting the world today – trade, tax and transparency – and has also pledged action on global hunger. These are welcome words – but the real test is whether the eight leaders can deliver next week.
The decisions they make on two key issues could make a huge difference to the fight against global hunger.
Tax dodging is an issue that’s grabbing the headlines in many G8 countries, but its impact on developing countries has received less attention.
Every year, developing countries lose more than €120bn/£100bn to just one type of corporate tax dodging – enough to eradicate hunger more than three times over.
But it is also the tip of the iceberg, as hundreds of billions are also hidden away by the world’s wealthiest and corporate giants in tax havens. In fact, our research shows that wealthy individuals could be avoiding tax on as much as €700bn/£600bn through Irish financial institutions. We’ll be telling the G8 that they must get tough on tax dodging, by changing the rules that protect the companies and individuals using tax havens so no one can hide their money away and avoid tax without consequences.
Land grabbing is an issue that has been under the radar for too long. The race for land in developing countries is exposing vulnerable communities to the risk of losing their homes, ways of life and the land they rely on for food to eat.
Meanwhile the race to put adequate regulations in place to prevent land grabs has hardly started. Already, G8 companies and investors have bought land in developing countries more than the size of the whole of Ireland since the year 2000.
This land could grow enough food for 96 million people. The G8 has a huge opportunity to protect people from land grabs by increasing the transparency of land investments, and forcing its own companies to disclose information on any land deals they are involved in. Will they take this opportunity?
So, what can we expect?
The G8’s track record in delivering on their promises is not one to shout about, as their own ‘Accountability Report’ shows. But in the last few weeks, there have been some signs that the G8 is moving in the right direction.
Last week, governments committed $4.15 billion to tackling malnutrition at a special event on nutrition, and this week we’re seeing some movement on both tax and extractive industry transparency by some G8 countries. But a G8 deal on land and tax which really helps poor countries is badly off track.
With more than a billion people living in extreme poverty and one in eight going to bed hungry tonight, the G8 need to raise their game over the coming days. We will be following the G8 Summit every step of the way – sharing the latest news, demanding greater action from leaders, and having just a little fun with our famous G8 Big Heads!
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