None of us should be remotely surprised at the revelation that the G8 has failed to deliver on the promises made at the Gleneagles summit in 2005.

The elite group of leading industrial nations pledged to improve development assistance by $50bn a year by 2010.

But almost two years on and the Africa Progress Panel, headed by the former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, has confirmed that rich countries were only 10% of the way to their target.

At the time the promise was hailed as a significant step forward by some, but many others felt it was yet another wasted opportunity and an exercise in being seen to do the right thing without actually delivering anything worthwhile.

Although the UK is apparently on track to meet the target, other members of the cosy club – Germany and Italy particularly – have come in for heavy criticism for wilfully dragging their feet.

I find it slightly ironic that Sir Bob Geldof, a member of the Africa Progress Panel, is fairly robust in his criticism.

I believe his Live 8 debacle seriously side-tracked the Make Poverty History campaign at a crucial time.

Just as Make Poverty History was starting to make progress in engaging the public, Live 8 effectively hi-jacked the work done by the MPH coalition.

Staging yet another largely meaningless rock concert did not help to reinforce the strong messages MPH was managing to put across. I tend to believe the parade of ageing singers and performers diluted those messages and deflected attention sufficiently to give the G8 leaders a much easier ride than they could have imagined.

At the time I wondered why Live 8 had been organised and whether the efforts of Sir Bob Geldof and others would have been better served supporting the existing and long-standing MPH rally planned for Edinburgh on the same day.

As it was between 200,000 and 300,000 people still took to the streets of the Scottish capital – forming a moving white ring around the centre of Edinburgh – but crucially the majority of the media attention was elsewhere.

I wrote at the time posing the question whether the presence of the world’s rock elite in Edinburgh would have swelled the numbers of those attending the MPH rally and sent out a much more powerful message to the G8 leaders.

As it was, we got a day-long music festival in London and while everyone indulged in a sing-song the heat was taken off the leaders arriving a few hundred miles away in Scotland for the G8 summit.

The real insult of the Live 8 vanity project that took place in London was even if it was designed to resurrect some stalled music careers – as some critics have claimed – then it even failed to achieve that questionable goal.

As one senior charity official said to me at the time: “If Live 8 hadn’t happened we could have got up to a million people on the streets of Edinburgh and the G8 would have found it hard to ignore that message.”

The 2005 G8 summit was a huge wasted opportunity and for once we cannot really blame the politicians. The fault lies with Live 8.

The real impact of Live 8 is now being felt in the broken promises and the failure to compel the G8 to act decisively.


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