The G-8 summit is always a good time for promises and pleasant declarations. This year, at the disaster city of L'Aquila in Italy, promises for development assistance will definitely be on the agenda, but with a major concern: Will rich countries' funding promises hold?
Gordon Brown has already made an announcement: "We have agreed to be accountable for our aid and overseas spending. It is important we know what the commitments have to be to meet the 2015 millenium development goals."
U.S. President Barack Obama also said he was expecting the G-8 summit to end with an aid commitment of $15 billion over several years for agricultural development.
Further, Jose Manuel Barroso declared that the European Comission will add another billion dollars per year on top of the money that was already promised.
Nowadays, however, less and less people are taking their words for granted. Repeating pledges will hardly change the mind of any aid agency or developing country government until something is said on how these goals can be achieved concretely.
The current $15 billion shortfall on the $50 billion pledge made at Gleneagles is highly symbolic of the current situation – and having Silvio Berlusconi as the host of the summit does not especially offer the group an uncontested credibility. Of the G-8 countries, Italy has reduced its aid the most in the last few months.
As a result of this growing criticism toward G-8 legitimacy, a counter-summit called "Forum des peuples" – or the People's Forum – is being held simultaneously in the city of Bandiagara in Mali. People from neighboring countries and even Europe are attending.