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Making the world go round

The G-8 outreach dialogue is an indispensable platform for the consolidation of a joint agenda of shared interests by everyone on our planet, writes Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva.

india Updated: Jun 08, 2007 11:33 IST

The G-8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany, offers a fresh opportunity for the outreach leaders of South Africa, Brazil, China, India and Mexico to deepen the dialogue with the major industrialised economies on priority issues in the international agenda instigated in Evian in 2003.

These outreach meetings have been gaining strength every year. They have achieved recognition precisely because of new approaches to G-8 discussions that they introduced. I am persuaded that it is high time the main emerging economies were heard particularly on climate change, sustainable development, new and renewable energy sources and financing for development. This is not because the populations of our countries are directly affected, but on the basis of the ability that our countries have to formulate and implement innovative proposals as a response to multiple challenges.

Bio-fuels are likely to turn into commodities internationally, thus, illustrating how we have been joining efforts to find coordinated solutions. The widespread use of ethanol and bio-diesel helps democratise access to energy, decreasing the worldwide dependence on finite reserves of hydrocarbons. Concomitantly, this contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and, thus, helps to curb the effects of climate change that affects all of us.

Bio-fuels are particularly relevant for the developing countries. Because of the huge potential for employment creation and income generation, bio-fuels offer a true alternative for sustainable growth, particularly for the countries that depend on exporting scant raw materials. In addition, ethanol and bio-diesel open up new roads for development, particularly in the biochemical sector. These are enabling economic, social and technological alternatives for countries that are economically less well off but richer in sunshine and arable land.

The arguments that bio-fuels may impact on food security or aggravate climate change are built on a false premise. Provided every country adopts types of crops that are adequate for its reality and needs, bio-fuels can act as partners for food security and environmental protection. A rigorous public certification system supported by multilateral agreements will both protect the environment and guarantee adequate working conditions. A balance between family small-holdings and large-scale plantations can also be accomplished in the manner that it is enshrined in the Brazilian legislation, for instance. Indeed, we have been sharing our experience with our neighbours in Latin America, the Caribbean and with our African brothers.

In order to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), it is also essential to multiply innovative finance mechanisms capable of ensuring that there are necessary resources to change the living conditions of millions of excluded peoples. The levy charged on air tickets is but a diminutive example of what can potentially be achieved: the creation of the International Drug Purchase Facility, Unitaid, illustrates this very well.

The Outreach Summit offers us opportunities to put forward worldwide integrated strategies to deal with the major threats to our planet. No sustainable development, environmental harmony or lasting security will happen if we are unable to eradicate hunger and extreme inequality.

This is the reason why progress is needed in the multilateral trade negotiations. We need a genuine development round at the WTO. In this manner, the results will bring the benefits, which had been pledged so many times but which never materialised; namely, trade liberalisation for the most disadvantaged countries. Perhaps the largest test of our ability to forge truly global governance lies ahead of us in the urgent need to distribute responsibilities and costs; this should not be delayed any longer.

These responsibilities are shared but distinctive. When we speak of global warming or about multilateral trade negotiations, we cannot use the same yardstick when dealing with countries that have quite unequal capabilities and responsibilities. For instance, the legitimate protection of intellectual property which is included in the G-8 agenda cannot preclude the ethical imperative to ensure that essential drugs are available at accessible prices.

Brazil is fully aware of its obligations and has been thoroughly engaged in all of these initiatives. That is why we trust that the G-8 outreach dialogue will remain as an indispensable jurisdiction for the consolidation of a joint agenda of shared interests and challenges by everyone on our planet.

The creation of a permanent forum of developing and developed countries aimed at tackling the central issues in today’s world will help make globalisation less asymmetric, thus, with more solidarity.

Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva is the President of the Federative Republic of Brazil