The G-8 Muskoka Summit: A Historic Commitment to Accountability
President Obama is a strong advocate for greater transparency and accountability in the G-8. The President believes that the credibility of the G-8 rests on the willingness of its members to honor their commitments by reporting transparently on progress and identifying areas where additional effort is required. The United States has been a leader in the effort to improve G-8 accountability as part of the Obama Administration’s efforts to ensure that our spending overseas is transparent and effective.
Leading up to the Muskoka Summit, the G-8 released the Accountability Report: G-8 Action and Results, the first in G-8 history. The report provides a candid assessment of the extent to which the G-8 has fulfilled its commitments. It focuses primarily on development and development-related commitments and is the culmination of work undertaken over the past year by experts from across the G-8, with inputs provided by each member government. The report breaks new ground by focusing attention on the impact of G-8 initiatives and demonstrating that the real measure of progress is whether G-8 actions are improving development outcomes on the ground. This focus on development policies and outcomes is particularly timely this year, given that the commitments the G-8 made to Africa at Gleneagles five years ago are due this year and the United Nations review of progress toward meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) this September.
President Obama is strongly committed to this process moving forward and to the United States continuing its leadership on implementing its G-8 pledges. Among the key G-8 development commitments on which the United States has demonstrated its leadership are:
- Official Development Assistance (ODA): At Gleneagles, the U.S. committed to increase ODA to Africa from $4.33 billion to $8.67 billion. The U.S. exceeded its Gleneagles commitment one year in advance of the target and has made the largest ODA increases to Africa by volume among the G-8.
- Aid Effectiveness: In order to accelerate progress in countries where assistance can make a critical difference, the G-8 committed to focus its investments in the poorest countries. Since 2005, the U.S. has increased the share of assistance that flows to low-income countries from 27% to 51%. Through the Presidential Study Directive on Global Development Policy and the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review, the Obama Administration is exploring ways to put the principles of aid effectiveness into practice.
- Debt Relief: The G-8 has been at the forefront of international initiatives to cancel the eligible debt of heavily-indebted countries thereby freeing up resources for critical investments in education, health, and other sectors. The U.S. provides 100% debt cancellation for eligible countries through the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) initiative, and joined the G-8 in supporting effort to cancel 100% of the outstanding debt of eligible HIPC countries to the IMF, World Bank, and the African Development Fund.
- Trade and Investment: To further the integration of developing countries into the global economy, the G-8 committed to enhance market access and provide significant trade-related technical assistance and capacity building. Through the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), over 97% of U.S. imports from the 38 AGOA-eligible African countries entered the United States duty-free in 2008. Thanks in part to AGOA, U.S. imports from Sub-Saharan Africa increased from $21.3 billion in 2001 to $86.1 billion in 2008.
- Global Health: The G-8 has mobilized significant attention and resources to confront global health challenges, including by providing three quarters of the funding for the Global Fund to fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, and through the Toyako G8 commitment to provide at least $60 billion over five years to fight infectious disease and strengthen health systems. The U.S. has significantly increased its investments in global health, providing more than half of the total G-8 assistance for health in 2008 ($6.8 billion of $12.4 billion); provided life-saving antiretroviral treatment for over 2.3 million men, women and children; played a key role in creating and financing the Global Fund for HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria; and allocated over $1.2 billion for malaria efforts in 15 countries since 2005. President Obama recently committed $63 billion over six years for a new Global Health Initiative that will focus on strengthening the capability of health systems, addressing maternal and child health, and investing in integrated efforts to fight a range of infectious diseases, including through expanded support for PEPFAR.
- Agriculture and Food Security: In 2009, through United States leadership, the G-8 helped put sustainable agricultural development and food security on the global development agenda after years of neglect. The United States has committed to using the improved approach to assistance agreed by Leaders in L’Aquila to allocate the U.S. pledge of $3.5 billion over three years to a comprehensive food security initiative built on core principles of aid effectiveness, including an emphasis on making investments in regional and country-led plans. U.S. leadership has also helped to launch an innovative multilateral trust fund to scale up agricultural assistance in low-income countries.
- Peace and Security: The G-8 committed to an ambitious effort to strengthen peacekeeping and peacekeeping capacity, including by training 75,000 peacekeepers, in Sea Island in 2004. The U.S. has surpassed the Sea Island target on its own through the Global Peace Operations Initiative, which has trained or enabled the training of 110,489 peacekeepers from 107 countries. These peacekeepers have supported 20 United Nations operations around the world.