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Eyes Shut: No G 7 Action on Ecologically-sound Development
by Rene Wadlow
2017-06-01 11:26:13
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With our eyes open, we share the same world; with our eyes shut, each of us enters his own world.     

The G7 Club (USA and Canada from North America, France, Germany, Italy, UK from Western Europe, and Japan from Asia) has just finished its yearly meeting, this year at Taormina in Sicily.  The meeting started in a Greek theater - Sicily having been an outpost of the Greeks during the Classic period.  Classic Greek theater was less for entertainment than a way of setting out insights into the human condition through drama.  Thus the Club members might have heard as a whisper the lines attributed to Heraclitus.

env01_400_01Clubs are often noted not so much by their membership as by those left out.  Thus China, Russia, India, not to mention the Nordic countries or Switzerland, are left out of the G7.  There are real difficulties in reaching action proposals within the United Nations where consensus must be reached among 193 States. Thus, in some ways, it is natural to have, in addition to the U.N., regional organizations based on geography or type of major export: oil, cotton, etc.  The G7 Club fits neither the geographic nor the export production model.

However, it is very difficult politically to end a Club. Sometimes a club can be enlarged so we also have a G20, created in 1999, in addition to the G7, there are others with money.  But the same issue of who is excluded remains.  The other technique is to invite a person for a meal and a discussion but indicating clearly that the invitation is a "one-time only" occasion and that there is no need to fill out a club application form.

Thus to the 26-27 May festival in Sicily, a small number of Africans were invited for the last afternoon meal: Niger, Nigeria from West Africa, Ethiopia and Kenya from East Africa, and Tunisia, the smallest of the North African States.  The invitation, largely at the doing of the Italian host, was to remind the others that every day there are people trying to crash the Club gates, and that Italy ends up having to feed them.  However, those invited are not the countries from which most of the "gate crashers" come.

To look seriously at the flow of refugees and migrants, more States need to be invited, and they need to talk for a longer time.  The issues are too serious and too complex for symbolic gestures.

There could have been a useful discussion on ecologically-sound development, a subject that concerns all and on which positive action is necessary.  The G7 Club members were worried that one of their most visible members, being large with an unusual hair style, would not abide by one of the Club rules, to follow the Paris agreement on climate change. If the USA pulls out or drags its feet too obviously, non-Club members like China, Russia and India might do the same.

For the African States, ecologically-sound development is a priority.  People leaving a country en masse , is not good publicity but has little overall impact on the economy. Thus, if the Europeans are worried by Africans coming to their shores, it is necessary for Europeans to help develop Africa in an ecologically-sound way. Such development is only in part a question of money and infrastructure - the heart of most G7 proposals.  It is basically a need to re-structure agriculture, industry and services in a perspective of living in harmony with Nature. Some of the stones in the Greek theater might still hold some memories of classic Greek thoughts along these lines, but the Club members did not stay in the theater long enough to hear faint voices.

wc00In practice, the USA is likely to stay within the framework of the Paris Agreement.  One can always drag one's feet. Saying that one is leaving is probably more trouble than it is worth.  An official announcement is promised soon.  The Africans will have to find other paths for progress on ecologically-sound development.  However, a short trip to a medieval Sicilian city is never a loss.

It is important that non-governmental voices such as those of the Association of World Citizens supporting ecologically-sound development policies and practices be heard in Washington, DC.  Few trends are more positive for ecologically-sound development than the emergence of movements stressing social and political responsibility on a world-wide scale.  Building a global civic culture is necessary for a healthy democratic society.  With the cry of "America First" being heard from some, it is necessary to stress that open eyes are necessary so that we may share the same world.


Rene Wadlow, President, Association of World Citizens

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