Head of the WWF Germany
The centerpiece of the G8 summit in Germany should be environmental problems, notably climate change, according to Regina Gunter, head of the WWF Germany.
The G8 summit is not just a meeting of leaders of the world’s most powerful nations, it is also "a summit of the world's most problematic leaders," she said, speaking at an NGO conference in Moscow held as part of the Civil G8 2006.
The entire world ratified the Kyoto Protocol, which is "a small, but very important step toward environment protection," she said. However, after George W. Bush came to power in the United States, he tried to "kill the document," she maintained.
"He has failed, but he has succeeded in slowing the process down, so we have lost precious time in the struggle against this dangerous phenomenon," Gunter said, adding that the G8 had not proposed anything to tackle the issue.
The final statement of the G8 summit in St. Petersburg mentions the need to increase the use of discovered hydrocarbons. "But if that is done, global climate change will go on," she said.
The St. Petersburg summit did not take recommendations from civil society and NGOs fully into account, she said.
Although its outcome "was better than the previous ones, the final statement showed that we have a very long way to go before our voice, the voice of civil society, is heard," she said.
NGOs will have to work both with the German government and with all G8 governments to make their recommendations heard during summit preparations and the summit itself, Gunter added.
The summit in Germany, in her opinion, also must take up problems related to intellectual property and Africa.
"Intellectual property rights are a very complicated topic," she said. "Now the G8 has to deal with this problem, which is not merely a technical, trade-related problem, but one that threatens to jeopardize humankind’s development."
The spread of HIV/AIDS is also related to the lack of regulations on intellectual property, she said.
"Expanding the legal rights of patent holders will affect patients' interests because they will be unable to buy patented medication," she explained.
Civil society is calling for not just a mechanical broadening of property rights, but the creation of a more flexible system than we have now, she said.
"We must take into account the developmental level of individual countries," Gunter pointed out. "Property rights should not encroach upon human rights and affect sustainable development."