Key Questions for the G8 L’Aquila Summit


Leaders of the world’s major economies are meeting from 8-10 July 2009 in L’Aquila, Italy, for the annual G8 summit. Reporting live from the G8 Media Centre, this blog will be a ‘watching brief’ on the summit process, tracking the critical discussions that will take place on and around the official agenda.

The L’Aquila summit will be the first meeting of the G8 leaders since the collapse of the global economy. Until now, “the 8”have been engaged in the upgraded G20 summit process. This poses a challenge for this year’s G8 summit – how does G8 differentiate itself from the G20 track? Staple G8 items such as climate change and African development have been announced as priorities for the Italian Summit. One day at the three-day Summit has been allocated for the G8 to discuss critical issues with the major emerging economies, including matters of the global economy. This Summit will also give added emphasis to shared security concerns. However, recent events such as North Korean nuclear-related missle testing and the political demonstrations in Iran are likely to enter the discussions.

Some of the “G5” emerging powers have played important roles in the globally coordinated response to the ongoing global economic crisis, thus emphasizing their growing prominence in world affairs. The underlying tension between the G8 and G20 highlights the significance of the culmination of the three-year “Heiligendamm Dialogue Process” (HP), the structured dialogue between G8 countries and the major emerging economies of the South (China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa). The HP final report will be delivered at L’Aquila.

From now until the conclusion of the summit, this blog will examine the evolving agenda and main discussions at and around the Italian Summit. Our expert analysts will offer commentary live from the G8 Media Centre. This blog will examine key questions on the relevancy of the G8 summit, centering on the following areas:

1. Who is taking the G8 seriously?

Should we care about the G8 Summit? Which issues are the media giving priority coverage at the summit? How have non-state actors approached the G8? Will protests and demonstrations command more public attention than the G8 discussions? If so, why? Will external events (war, terrorism, disasters) draw attention away from the planned agenda?

2. Will the G8 succeed in tackling such an ambitious agenda?

Have shifts in the reality of the global economic order affected the G8’s ability to deliver? Has the current global economic crisis affected the ability of “the 8” to deliver on their development assistance commitments for African countries? What should be expected of the outreach meetings African leaders? Will the G8’s Major Economies Forum compete or complement the Copenhagen climate negotiations?

3. How will the G8 differentiate itself from the G20?

Which countries and leaders are attending? How is the G8 performing in terms of of its efficiency and legitimacy? If the G20 Summit process continues to gain momentum, what impact does the future hold for the G8? Should the G8 be reinvented? What are some of the options for G8 reform?

4. Which countries are demonstrating leadership?

Which countries appear to taking the lead on which issues at this Summit? How large a group of invited guests will be in attendance at L’Aquila? What is the role for these non-members in the substantive discussions? Has the G8 lost its original comparative advantage – its role as an intimate forum for problem solving on critical issues?

5. What will be the outcome of the final report of the Heiligendamm Process?

Have the HP Working Groups made sufficient progress in enhancing dialogue among and between the G8 and G5? What types of recommendatins may appear in the HP Final Report? Will Italy’s proposal of a ‘G14 for a day’ establish a lasting precedent for future Summits? How should Canada respond as it assumes the G8 Presidency in 2010? 

This blog is a joint production of CIGI and Chatham House, within the Study Group on Global Economic Governance, taking stock of developments surrounding the G8 summit and offer insight into the significant shift in global economic power. A set of video commentaries will be produced by our G8 insiders and cross-posted on the website of CBC’s The National, Canada’s premiere daily news program.

Follow this blog site as it evolves – you can subscribe to our RSS feed, YouTube channel, Twitter feed,  and post your own comments.


Disclaimer: This blog is solely intended to spur discussion, while the opinions expressed are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI, Chatham House or their respective Boards of Directors.

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