G8: a date for eight

Right after their Moscow working session, the presidents of Russia and the US are scheduled to travel to the earthquake-ridden Italian town of L’Aquila where the G8 summit will start on Wednesday.

The region is just recovering from a devastating earthquake three months ago that claimed the lives of 297 people and displaced 60, 000 more. Both the preparations and the agenda for the meeting seem to be as shaky as the terrain on which they are set to take place.

The agenda incorporates a wide variety of complex issues that some say are nearly impossible to resolve in a matter of just three days. The top goal of the 2009 G8 summit is finding a consensus on how to tackle the global financial crisis.

A lot of work will also be spent on trying to find unified responses on issues such as Iran and North Korea and whether either of these situations call for economic sanctions.

Climate change is also high on the agenda, and there are even rumors that we could see a non-binding agreement this year to cut greenhouse gas emissions by 80% by 2050.

Since all the work on these diverse subjects has to be done in merely three days, criticism has been voiced that the G8 has become increasingly outdated.

Active protests

This year has been no exception to the ongoing tradition of the G8 summit becoming a venue for anti-globalisation protests.

However, further protests have focused on the outdated and inefficient nature of the summit. The participants argue that the countries’ leaders simply gather, have nice meals, talk about the problems of the world and fail to formulate any solutions.

This year, those who have been displaced as a result of the earthquake in L’Aquila have taken to the streets. Their slogan is “Yes we camp” and their main claim is that not a cent has been put into rebuilding the city, while money has been pumped into organizing the summit.

Why L’Aquila?

A last-minute decision by Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi moved the summit from the luxurious resort island of Sardinia to the disaster-struck L’Aquila.

According to Berlusconi, the move was meant to show solidarity with the people affected by the earthquake.

Many of the venues are quite impromptu: leaders will be meeting in converted military barracks and there are many tents set up around the city. Preparations are still taking place on the eve of the summit’s launch.