When world leaders converge in the Italian city of L'Aquila this week for the Group of Eight (G-8) summit, the economic crisis and global warming will top the agenda. The summit is comprised of the eight largest industrial nations in the world - United States, Britain, Germany, Italy, France, Russia, Canada and Japan.
China, Russia and Brazil will make their case this week for another global reserve currency that could rival the dollar's dominance. The greenback has been losing its popularity and prestige internationally as its buying power deteriorates from the global recession. According to Reuters, a top Kremlin economic aide said China and Russia would "state their stance that the global currency system needs smooth evolutionary development."
Brazilian President Luiz Inacio "Lula" da Silva said he was keen to explore "the possibility of new trade relations not dependent on the dollar" and India has also said it is open to the debate.
Pope Benedict XVI released his encyclical letter before the summit's commencement, pressing for a reform of the United Nations and denouncing the economic mismanagement of financial institutions which has 'wreaked havoc' on the global economy. Benedict called for a new world order in his letter, as reported by the AP.
"There is urgent need [for] a true world political authority" that can manage the global economy, guarantee the environment is protected, ensure world peace and bring about food security for the poor, he wrote.
In the shadow of the G-8 meeting, the G-5 summit, made up of Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Mexico, will advance their own agenda, meeting with the eight richest countries on July 9. Fighting climate change and regulating carbon emissions will be discussed among these five countries too, though a fissure between China and the others has formed, according to IPS.
The G5 have continued since 2005 to take the position that it is the heavily industrialised G8 nations that continue to produce high emissions per capita, that they must take mandatory steps, and that steps taken by developing countries must come with transfer of clean technologies from North to South. That position is likely to be put across firmly again this year despite differences that have arisen among the G5, with China, for instance, taking far stronger action on emissions than India.
But the political bottom line would have to be that these countries do what they believe they must, recognising that this is a shared problem, but without committing to a programme of action determined by the industrialised powers.
There have already been titillating headlines and rumors about the summit making its way through the international press. According to a report in the Guardian, senior western officials have taken over for host country Italy in the summit's agenda and planning. Chaos has led other G-8 nations to rethink Italy's membership in the elite group. Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi denies such allegations, and Italian foreign minister, Franco Frattini, told the paper "I hope that the Guardian is expelled from the great newspapers of the world."
An Italian foreign ministry spokesman said there had been a misunderstanding about the "sherpa" phone calls. He said one had been organised by the US, but it had been aimed at organising a G20 summit in Pittsburgh in September.
Here is a complete schedule of events; for more on the G8 summit visit the official website:
L'Aquila, 8 - 10 July 2009
13.00 - 15.00 G8 Working Lunch (World Economy)
15.30 - 17.30 G8 Working Session (Global Issues)
Opportunity for press conference
20.30 G8 Working Dinner (International Issues)
*Italy, Canada, France, United States, United Kingdom, Russian Federation, Germany, Japan, EU Commission + EU Presidency (Sweden)
10.00 - 12.00 Working Session G8 + Brazil, People's Republic of China, India, Mexico, South Africa + Egypt (Global Issues/Development Policies)
12.30 - 14.30 Working Lunch G8 + Brazil, People's Republic of China, India, Mexico, South Africa + Egypt + IEA, ILO, IMF, OECD, UN, WB, WTO (Future sources of growth)
14.30 - 15.00 Junior 8 (Leaders will meet with young representatives from G8+ Brazil, People's Republic of China, India, Mexico, South Africa + Egypt)
15.00 - 18.30 Major Economies Forum format meetings
Opportunity for press conference
20.30 Dinner hosted by the President of the Italian Republic (G8 + Brazil, People's Republic of China, India, Mexico, South Africa + Egypt + Australia, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Denmark + Netherlands, Spain, Turkey + Algeria, Angola, Ethiopia, Libya, Nigeria, Senegal + Commission of the African Union + IEA, ILO, IMF, OECD, UN, WB, WTO + FAO, IFAD, WFP)
8.30 - 10.00 Working Breakfast G8 + Algeria, Angola, Egypt, Ethiopia, Libya, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa + African Union Commission + IEA, ILO, IMF, OECD, UN, WB, WTO (Impact of the crisis on Africa)
10.30 - 12.30 Working Session on Food Security (G8 + Brazil, People's Republic of China, India, Mexico, South Africa + Egypt + Australia, Republic of Korea, Indonesia, Denmark + Netherlands, Spain, Turkey + Algeria, Angola, Ethiopia, Libya, Nigeria, Senegal + Commission of the African Union + IEA, ILO, IMF, OECD, UN, WB, WTO + FAO, IFAD, WFP)
13.00 Final Press Conference of the G8 Chair