G8 school report - room for improvement

10 June 2013

The G8 has ‘room for improvement’ in delivering on it commitments to tackle global poverty, according to Britain's leading development think tank.

The G8's 'accountability report', a self-assessment exercise released ahead of the Lough Erne summit, gives the rich country grouping high scores for acting on past commitments.

In its review of the report, the Overseas Development Institute is broadly positive about the G8's contribution to global poverty reduction efforts.

"The delivery record provides cold comfort for aid cynics. G8 commitments have made a difference in saving lives and expanding opportunity," the ODI's Director, Kevin Watkins, commented.

However, the ODI review was sharply critical of the G8 assessment in some key areas. The review highlights what it describes as 'exaggerated claims', a lack of ambition in the commitment undertaken, and a failure to tackle problems in areas - such as trade, agricultural subsidies and climate change - where G8 interests are at stake.

Education is highlighted as an area of particular weakness. The G8 benchmark, which has not been met, envisages an additional $1.2bn in aid while the global financing gap is estimated by UNESCO's Global Monitoring Report at $26bn.

The ODI review identified a number of specific shortcomings in the report which it is hoped will further strengthen the group’s commitment to meeting its promises.

  • inconsistent use of benchmarks, some of which do not always relate to stated goals
  • failure to recognise trends that threaten to undermine past efforts, including reductions in aid in 2010/11
  • the absence of benchmarks for individual donors, making it hard to hold individual countries to account: while some donors (notably DfID) have over-performed, others have been 'free riding'

ODI welcome the G8's efforts to promote transparency and public debate through the report, while calling for more robust and independent scrutiny.

"The G8 has acted like a student who ends the term by giving themselves inflated marks. They have self-declared an 'A' for effort and achievement, said Mr Watkins.

Our evaluation suggests that a 'B' would be more appropriate, along with a reminder that the student needs to work harder and show more application if they are to realize their potential."