A warm handshake between US President Barack Obama and Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi may turn out to be the most enduring image of the 2008 G8 summit in Italy.
Ties between Washington and Tripoli have been strained for years – but at Thursday night’s dinner they were separated only by the Italian Prime Minister and G8 host, Silvio Berlusconi. The G8 on climate change have been dismissed as “window dressing” by campaigners. The leaders’ commitments to reducing emissions did not go far enough, they say, and prove that there is much to be done before UN pact due in Copenhagen in December. Experts praised an unexpected increased in the amount of money provided to increase global food security – 14 billion euros over three years, four billion more than initially thought. But they say put in context it is not enough. The percentage of foreign aid given to agriculture has fallen from 17% to 5% since 1980. Experts also want to know how much of this is new money – and exactly how it will be administered. In terms of investment in Africa, the talks signalled a swing from crisis-management to promoting long-term sustainability. African leaders at the summit maintained that investment in roads, railways and power was the only way to make sure the hungry got food. Campaigners added that the G8 is still way off its promise made at Gleneagles in 2005 to double aid to Africa.