Every year since 1976, the heads of state of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Russia (which joined the group in 1997) have been meeting to discuss the global economy, security, and, increasingly, development issues. These leaders, known as the G8 (or Group of Eight), will hold their annual summit in Deauville, France, today and tomorrow.
It can be difficult to understand why citizens of these countries should care about high-level policy meetings like this one. But these meetings set the course for critical priority decisions that affect what programs and issues are addressed, and which ones are set aside. These meetings result in financial commitments made by individual countries.
In summary, these meetings affect the health, well-being, and lives of millions of people living in poverty around the world. The citizens of these wealthy countries have both the privilege and the responsibility to hold their leaders accountable for making wise priority decisions and keeping the commitments that flow from those decisions.
This year, the G8 leaders will wrestle with issues including Japan’s post-earthquake and tsunami recovery; the green economy; nuclear safety; political changes in the Arab world; and the partnership between G8 leaders and African countries. Increasingly, global development and poverty have been on the G8 leaders’ agenda. Take these examples:
- At the 2000 Summit in Okinawa, Japan, the G8 leaders called for the creation of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, which has led to billions of dollars in the battle against these global diseases, and millions of lives saved.
- At the 2005 Summit in Gleneagles, Scotland, the G8 leaders promised an increase in official development assistance of $50 billion by 2010 to fight global poverty in Africa from the 2004 levels.
- At the 2009 Summit in L’Aquila, Italy, the G8 leaders created the L’Aquila Initiative, promising $22 billion in the fight against global hunger and food insecurity.
- At the 2010 Summit in Muskoka, Canada, the G8 leaders created the Muskoka Initiative, promising $7.5 billion in the effort to end preventable child and maternal deaths. Also, it was the first time that the G8 leaders produced an “accountability report” to highlight progress on past development commitments.
I am attending this year’s G8 Summit, along with other World Vision colleagues from around the world, in order to call on G8 leaders to keep their past promises around aid commitments for Africa, global hunger, and child/maternal health.
World Vision is also calling for increased accountability on how international assistance is spent — both more and better aid is needed. The cries of the world’s most vulnerable people must be heard by the G8 leaders. World Vision seeks to amplify and bear witness to these cries.
As U.S. citizens, I encourage you to advocate for wise international policy from our government. But I also urge you to pray.
1 Timothy 2:1-2 (NIV) reads, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone — for kings and those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.”
Praying for our leaders represents an important spiritual commitment, so that they may act on the courage of their best convictions to build a healthier and more peaceful world. As Christians, I urge you to pray not only for U.S. leaders, but the leaders of other G8 countries as well. Their decisions directly affect the lives of the world’s poor and vulnerable.
Learn more about World Vision’s work at this this year’s G8 Summit.
Watch Robert Zachritz discuss the ongoing problem of world hunger on the CBN News Channel’s Morning News.