Civil G8 2006

Civil G8 — is your opportunity
to discuss global problems!

International Conference Civil G8 dialogue

Interviews of the participants


Igor Belyakov

Expert of the Economy Expert Group

- What are the goals of the participation of your organisation in these discussions and what is its experience in cooperating with the G8?
- The organisation which I represent is the Economy Expert Group (EEG). Its goals are: research and elaboration of proposals in the field of macro-economic policy and state financing (including the implementation of the international experience), analysis and monitoring of Russia`s foreign economic activity, cooperation with the international organisations, among which, are OECD, G8, the Group of Twenty, APEC, IMF, World Bank, EBRD and others - on the issue of economy.
From this point of view, our participation in the conference has facilitated better understanding between the representatives of the world community from various parts of Asia, Africa, Europe and other places. With regard to such issues as investments into the developing countries, observation of the environmental and social standards, prospects for using alternative energy sources; fighting poverty (including such means as free medical services) and respect for copyright.
With regard to the experience in cooperation between the EEG and the G8, I would like to especially note the report of our head E.T.Gurvich on the subject of Energy Security and the "curse of resources" at the Moscow forum of the Civil G8 in July 2006. In addition to that, the EEG assisted the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Federation in the preparation of the G8 ministers` summits in Russia. However, for me personally this was my first experience of participation in this type of summits.

- Are you satisfied with the results of the discussion of particularly the issues which your organisation focuses on? Will they have an impact on the position taken by the official G8?
I was primarily satisfied with the whole discussion process itself since all the interested parties were quite actively and comprehensively expressing their positions - the fact which significantly contributed to better understanding of the global situation with the cooperation between the interests of the NGOs from all over the world (and of the countries which they represent), of their demands and wishes which were addressed to the G8.
With regard to the actual results of the discussion, these were for the most part already available before the conference and stated in the Policy Paper which every participant received earlier. It was signed in March by various non-governmental organisations among which there for some reason was no-one from Russia.
I believe that the G8 will not be able to ignore the proposals of the international non-governmental organisations and will introduce certain modifications and amendments into their policies. In this respect, the main significance lies not so much in the novelty of the proposals of the Civil G8 but in the fact of its cooperation with the G8 summit itself.

- How significant is, in your opinion, the extent to which the civil society is involved in the work of the G8 this year? How do you evaluate the degree of involvement of the civil society into this work and of the continuity with regard to the previous chairmanships? What is your assessment of the cooperation of the G8 with the NGOs?
- Quite possibly, the civil society could have indeed had a far more significant representation here. This was my first experience of participating in this forum; therefore, it is hard for me to evaluate the degree of continuity with regard to previous experience. However, in itself the whole fact that such an event is held with the participation of the country representatives of the G8 member states proves the inevitability of a dialogue, and this should be regarded as a positive step. The appraisal of the cooperation of the Civil G8 with the official G8 will be given later, depending on whether any practical resolutions with regard to the initiatives of the Civil G8will be adopted at the upcoming summit.


Oleg Bodrov

Chairman of the GREEN WORLD Council - a non-governmental charitable environmental organisation

- What are the goals of the participation of your organisation in these discussions and what is its experience in cooperating with the G8?
- First of all, I would like to express my sincere gratitude to Ella Alexandrovna for her initiative in organising the participation of the Russian civil society organisations and of the GREEN WORLD Council in various international events, including the 2007 Civil G8 summit in Bonn. This participation has enriched us with a significant experience in cooperation with our colleagues from the civil-society organisations in other countries in what regards elaboration of the common stand on the issue of climate changes and the role played by the energy industry in this process.
This is a very important result because the Russian non-governmental organisations have less experience of such cooperation than their G8 counterparts. 057
Our goal for participating in the Civil G8 2007 is to influence the position taken by the leaders of the G8 member states with regard to the solution strategies to the problem of climate changes and development of the energy industry, to promote the priority development of renewable energy sources and of energy saving schemes as the most economic, efficient and environment-friendly ways of managing the negative climate changes, as well as to promote the exclusion of atomic energetics from the list of possible solutions to the climate-related problems.
The latter goal arises from the results of the research which for many years was conducted at an environmental laboratory near the Leningrad nuclear power plant where I myself was for a long time employed.
I took part in the work of the ecology groups in the two meetings of the Civil G8 in Moscow in 2006.
Some of the proposals of the GREEN WORLD Council were included into the final draft of the resolution of the Civil G8, among such were proposals regarding the necessity of ratification of the Espo Convention by both the USA and Russia. This Convention makes provision for obligatory informing of the neighbouring countries in the case of implementation of projects with a possible transboundary impact.

- Are you satisfied with the results of the discussion of particularly the issues which your organisation focuses on? Will they have an impact on the position taken by the official G8?
- I am satisfied with the results of the discussion on the subject of climate changes and the energy industry which was held among the civil society organisations.
The position on which the society stands was formed on the grounds of the necessity of pre-emptive development of the renewable energy sources and of the energy saving programmes and schemes which will be aimed at reducing the pace of the global warming.
This also includes limitations on consumption of the fossil fuel.
At the same time, the world community has excluded atomic energetics from the list of acceptable means of influencing the climate changes. It is important to remember that some of the stages of the nuclear fuel cycle contribute to increasing the atmospheric temperature.
Moreove, atomic power stations are so costly that in the market economy conditions they will have to be sustained by subsidies from the state. Also, the share of atomic energy in the global budget amounts to no more than 5-6% and thus it will not be able to dominate the energy market.
And in addition to all of the above, this type of energy creates a serious threat to the safety of the coming generations due to the problem of nuclear waste still remaining unsolved.
I am not satisfied with the position taken by the representative of Russia at the summit - Mr. Shuvalov who declared the necessity of developing the atomic energetics as a means of solving the climate-related problems. For all that, this opinion was not in any way supported by any argumentation. Our impression is that this position was formed under the influence of motives other than concerns for the situation with the global climate.
We have not yet seen any evidence of that the leaders of the G8 member states are capable of taking into consideration or yet turning down the proposals and projects of the civil society.
Most proposals put forward by the Moscow Civil G8 were not taken up for consideration at the St Petersburg summit -2006.
That said, it has to be stressed that no development of the mechanisms of influence of the civil society upon the decisions which are made in the members countries of the G8 themselves is so far observed.
The Espo Convention which is aimed at securing such a mechanism on the international level, has been signed but not ratified by either Russian or the US. And Japan did not even sign it.

- How significant is, in your opinion, the extent to which the civil society is involved in the work of the G8 this year? How do you evaluate the degree of involvement of the civil society into this work and of the continuity with regard to the previous chairmanships? What is your assessment of the cooperation of the G8 with the NGOs?
- In my opinion, we can observe a considerable degree of 0 involvement of the civil society into the process of interaction with the country representatives.
The event held in Bonn is not the only example of the involvement of the wider society. Sadly, the meeting in Bonn did not include a meeting with the German Chancellor.
There is a widespread feeling that the whole process is organised largely for the sake of a "show-off", that in reality the politicians are yet unable to seriously consider the proposals coming from non-governmental organisations.
In my opinion, it would be more sensible to hold a discussion table with the country representatives, instead of merely informing them on the position of the wider public and hearing their comments.
In the future we could organise a discussion between the Russian non-governmental organisations and the Russian country representatives within the framework of the G8 summit programme. I can speak of continuity with regard to the previous chairmanship. My evaluation of the cooperation between the NGOs and the G8 would stand somewhere at 3+ on a five-point scale.


Alena Vasilyeva

Director of the Volgograd -EcoPress Information Centre

- What are the goals of the participation of your organisation in these discussions and what is its experience in cooperating with the G8?
- Promotion of the solution of the issues of regulation of the circulation of genetically-modified products. This especially concerns the problem of inclusion of the GMP-related issues into the G8 agenda, of prohibition of use of GM sources for foodstuffs, primarily, those intended for children, for trade, export/import, of support of large-scale research of the influence which genetically modified products have living organisms.
In July 2006 at the meeting held by non-governmental organisations in Moscow we prepared our proposals which were to be presented to the heads of the G8 member states. Our President expressed his approval of these proposals at his meeting with the non-governmental organisations, or, in any case, he did not oppose this idea.

- Are you satisfied with the results of the discussion of particularly the issues which your organisation focuses on? Will they have an impact on the position taken by the official G8?
- No, unfortunately. Quite sadly, the issues of ecology remain outside the range of interests of the G8. And even during the discussion held by the non-governmental organisations in Bonn the discussion of environmental issues was reduced to the problem of forest preservation. This is, by all means, an important yet by far not the only ecology-related problem solution for which should be sought within the framework of the G8. The representatives of the environmental non-governmental organisations have put forward a number of other proposals at the meeting, among those were also proposals concerning genetically modified products.


- How significant is, in your opinion, the extent to which the civil society is involved in the work of the G8 this year? How do you evaluate the degree of involvement of the civil society into this work and of the continuity with regard to the previous chairmanships? What is your assessment of the cooperation of the G8 with the NGOs?
- This year a meeting was held between the representatives of non-governmental organisations and the country representatives who will at best simply inform the heads o f the states on the proposals put forward by the non-governmental organisations. In this situation what becomes important are the proposals which will be submitted by non-governmental organisations in written form. The document which was prepared on behalf of non-governmental organisations was presented to many in Bonn. It is not quite clear with whom and how it was discussed but we can at any rate say that the Russian NGOs did not participate in this process. Too little time was allowed for discussions held between the NGOs themselves - 2-3 hours only. A lot of time was given instead to information releases. This is important too, of course, but such information releases could have been prepared in print. After all, this was a meeting of people from various countries who came together in order to discuss their common problems and to elaborate a common stand which would enable them to effectively lobby the interests of the civil society. In addition to that all, absolutely no account was taken of the previous year`s experience, whether with regard to organisation or expertise. In practice, we made a step backward in this process and have only ourselves to blame for it. The NGOs were themselves not able to organise their own work.


Natalya Vlasova

PhD Economic Sciences, Professor of the Uralic State University of Economics, Member of the Expert Council on Strategical Planning of the city of Yekaterinburg.

- What are the goals of the participation of your organisation in these discussions and what is its experience in cooperating with the G8?
- As a representative of a higher education institution (the Uralic State University of Economics) as well as of the expert community of the city of Yekaterinburg I believe that the main goal of participation in this conference was building up links and channels for communication between representatives of the civil society on different levels which will contribute to enlarging the scope of the process, its better organisation and will, consequently, lead to better results.

- Are you satisfied with the results of the discussion of particularly the issues which your organisation focuses on? Will they have an impact on the position taken by the official G8?
- The majority of the problems were discussed at the conference with professionalism sufficient for making an impact on the position of the official G8, this is my opinion. The recommendations resulting from the conference should be sufficiently specific and formalised I think that the Policy Paper suggested for consideration at the conference may serve as an example of such specification.
Unfortunately, the Russian participants had no opportunity to get acquainted with this document prior to the conference which would have enabled them to offer their own comments and recommendations.
Another important step in shaping and developing the public opinion is creation and promotion of websites (for example, www.forumue.de)

- How significant is, in your opinion, the extent to which the civil society is involved in the work of the G8 this year? How do you evaluate the degree of involvement of the civil society into this work and of the continuity with regard to the previous chairmanships? What is your assessment of the cooperation of the G8 with the NGOs?
- Despite the fact that the process of discussion of the global problems involves ever more and more organisations, the degree of awareness and participation on the local level still leaves a lot to be desired. Many actions betray the lack of coordination and bad organisation.
The majority of the issues discussed at the conference can be solved with a high degree of success at the level of municipal formations. A series of local conferences and workshops could be held with the purpose of encouraging a wider discussion of the problems of the cities and regions of the Russian Federation.
- For instance, almost every major city has its own strategical development plan but this does not always reflect the problems discussed at the conference. The discussion of these problems could be initiated through the Union of Russia`s Cities, the Congress of Municipal Formations of the Russian Federation and through other organisations. In addition to that, it is necessary to more widely involve the university communities into the elaboration of educational programmes which would allow to raise the awareness of the population and to create channels for participation and solution of these problems. By informing more widely the country's students of the global problems and by looking for various forms of their participation in solving these problems we will significantly contribute towards boosting the awareness and the activity of the civil society within the coming 5-10 years.


Oleg Faritovich Gizatullin

Technologies Discovered.

- What are the goals of the participation of your organisation in these discussions and what is its experience in cooperating with the G8?
- Our company is a member of the ICC (the International Chamber of Commerce), which unites under its aegis the representatives of the business elite. And, as part of our membership privileges, last year we took an active participation in practically all of the events he ld by the Civil G8 in Russia. We also participated in sponsoring the concert which was held under the name of Stop-Contrafact (No to Pirated and Infringing Goods), in organising the auction sales for the Youth G8, the proceeds of which were directed at helping children born with HIV. One of the items sold at the auction was a sculpture portraying a lion which was painted in merry colours by children from all over the world. Now this sculpture has been put up in the Hermitage courtyard.
Among the issues examined at the G8 summit our company has particular interest in the issues relating to intellectual property. We also believe that living in a scoiety and being free from its problems is simply impossible. We live in the same country, breathe the same air and drink the same water!

- Are you satisfied with the results of the discussion of particularly the issues which your organisation focuses on? Will they have an impact on the position taken by the official G8?
- The civil society most certainly can and definitely will influence the positions of the official G8. It is only that one cannot expect immediate results here.

- How significant is, in your opinion, the extent to which the civil society is involved in the work of the G8 this year? How do you evaluate the degree of involvement of the civil society into this work and of the continuity with regard to the previous chairmanships? What is your assessment of the cooperation of the G8 with the NGOs?
- This year when the G8 is chaired by Germany I am observing a certain recession in comparison with the last years Russias chairmanship. The event in Bonn was, as it seemed to me, organised with the excessive formality. This point of view was also heard from some of my foreign colleagues. The continuity with regard to the previous chairmanships is clearly insufficient.
The active participant of the process of cooperation between the NGOs and the G8, Mr. Nigel Martin from Canada (the President of the Montreal International Forum) claims that the level of cooperation between the NGOs and the authorities was at its highest level in Russia during the 2006 summit in St Petersburg.


Alexey Knizhnikov

WWF-Russia environmental policy in the oil and gas sector programme coordinator

- What are the goals of the participation of your organisation in these discussions and what is its experience in cooperating with the G8?
- The goals of our participation practically coincide with the officially stated mission of our organisation which runs as: WWF - World Wildlife Fund - is one of the largest independent global environmental conservation organisations with a significant experience in this field disposing of a network of national organisations and offices around the world. WWF sees its mission as preventing the degradation of the natural environment of our planet and achieving the harmony between humans and nature.
WWF believes that the climate changes present the major threat to the nature and humans in XXI century. WWF is engaged in constant cooperation with politicians and businessmen, ecologists and consumers aiming at finding solutions capable of slowing down the pace of the global warming before it reaches the critical level.
So long as the climate changes present a global concern, WWF considers it absolutely essential to sign supplementary agreements between those countries which are most involved in solving these issues.
WWF also works in cooperation with the local and regional authorities in order to promote effective elaboration and implementation of the necessary measures.
For WWF Russia the first experience of participation in G8 in 2006 was, in our opinion, a success. Ecologically correct statements were clearly and fully set forth in the documents of the Civil G8 which were brought to the attention of the world leaders and discussed with the country representatives. The process is heading in the right direction, on the whole, Russia has demonstrated to the world that it is capable of involving the wider society and that it deserves being reckoned with and meeting with on the top level.

- Are you satisfied with the results of the discussion of particularly the issues which your organisation focuses on? Will they have an impact on the position taken by the official G8?
- Yes, we are. We feel positive that, even if this is not going to happen soon, with time the ecologically-conscious outlook on the issues of energy security and the solution of the problem of the climate changes will become part of the official position of the G8 and Russia`s chairmanship was a great step forward towards this.

- How significant is, in your opinion, the extent to which the civil society is involved in the work of the G8 this year? How do you evaluate the degree of involvement of the civil society into this work and of the continuity with regard to the previous chairmanships? What is your assessment of the cooperation of the G8 with the NGOs?
- There is little doubt in the fact that the civil society is seriously involved in the work of the G8 this year as well. New important topics have been introduced into the G8 document, for example, the discussion on the issue of the dying out of the biodiversity. However, one should emphasise that the scope of the NGO involvement at the stage of formulation of the common stand turned out to be narrower than it was last year.


Olga Milova

Research Secretary, the Institute for Energetics and Finance Foundation

- What are the goals of the participation of your organisation in these discussions and what is its experience in cooperating with the G8?
- The Institute for Energetics and Finances Foundation has been taking part in the work of the Civil G8 since 2006. For instance, last year the President of our Institute L.M. Grigoryev took an active part in the preparatory work prior to the Civil G8 summit in Moscow, he headed the working group on energetical safety. I spoke at the summit with my report on the subject of "Prospects of the atomic energetics development in the world". In 2007 the participation of our organisation was determined by our current activities, namely, by our researching into the issues of the global economy and energy development.

- Are you satisfied with the results of the discussion of particularly the issues which your organisation focuses on? Will they have an impact on the position taken by the official G8?
- Unlike the last year summit where the discussion mainly focused on energy security, this year the issues of energy development were examined exclusively from the angle of the climate issues. Therefore, the German forum more than anybody else benefited the representatives of environmental organisations whose position is fully laid out in the summary document.

- How significant is, in your opinion, the extent to which the civil society is involved in the work of the G8 this year? How do you evaluate the degree of involvement of the civil society into this work and of the continuity with regard to the previous chairmanships? What is your assessment of the cooperation of the G8 with the NGOs?
- The involvement of the civil society into the work of the G8 is obvious and was confirmed by the presence of the national representatives of all the member states of the G8 at the German forum.
Sadly, this year the summary document, presented for the attention of the country represent atives, was not discussed with the representatives of the Russian civil society. The Russian delegation was given an opportunity to get acquainted with it post factum only.
With my experience of participation in the two civil forums I would like to call attention to the continuing growth of the activity of the environmental organisations marked by their specific characteristic way of tackling such problems. Despite all fairness and good intentions of the environmentalist groups, they are known for their categorical approach which, in my opinion, may serve as a barrier on the path to a more constructive dialogue with the governments of the G8 member states. My belief is that in the future we need to aim at elaborating a more balanced position of the civil society which will take into account not only the environmental but also the economic and political aspects.


Victoria Panova

Head of the Scientific G8 Research Group of the University of Toronto in Russia

- What are the goals of the participation of your organisation in these discussions and what is its experience in cooperating with the G8?
- The main interest lies in researching the possibilities and the ways of influencing the governments of the G8 member states from the position of the international non-governmental organisations in the view of the fact that the problems on which the G8 is currently working can only be best resolved in cooperation with all of the parties in the international system. Today`s dialogue seems to be just the initial stage on the way to elaboration of the optimal pattern of interaction of all of the factors. Our organisation has been cooperating with the G8 since 1989 and since 2003 this cooperation has been carried out on an individual basis.

- Are you satisfied with the results of the discussion of particularly the issues which your organisation focuses on? Will they have an impact on the position taken by the official G8?
- The work on several issues on which consensus was reached can be considered quite satisfactory. I am talking about the elaboration of specific recommendations on the topics which have so far not been seriously taken by the G8 leaders, unfortunately (for example, the global security and the interests of the society). Apart from the general promises on the necessity of entering into "an active dialogue with the civil society" no concrete results are yet apparent. This can partly be explained by the low ranking of the security issues on the list of priorities at the recent G8 summits (with the exception of the 2004 summit chaired by the USA).

- How significant is, in your opinion, the extent to which the civil society is involved in the work of the G8 this year? How do you evaluate the degree of involvement of the civil society into this work and of the continuity with regard to the previous chairmanships? What is your assessment of the cooperation of the G8 with the NGOs?
- The impression I have is that Germany as this year`s chairing member is attempting to lower the level and the intensity of the dialogue. Another thing is insufficient involvement of the civil society, to a greater extent we can enjoy cooperation with the local NGOs.
Germany`s chairmanship seems to be rather continuing the line pursued by the UK in 2005 and to a lesser extent that pursued by Russia (hence the emphasis on energy efficiency from the angle of the climate problems, aid to Africa etc), although the need for preservation of certain continuity has finally compelled Germany to agree to include, even if only in a considerably trimmed version, the issues of education onto the agenda while still placing the priority on Africa.
If we are to regard this dialogue as the basis for future cooperation which is to be more structured and consistent, then we can safely say that this cooperation can be viewed as satisfactory. The main point at present is the readiness on the part of the official G8 to listen to the representatives of the civil society. Another positive sign is the fact that the meetings of the national country representatives with the representatives of the local NGOs are becoming a good tradition in some of the member states of the G8. These meetings include the country representatives listening to the opinions and comments on the part of the NGOs but also their briefing of the latter on the course of negotiations and the position of their own government.


Vladimir Chuprov

- What are the goals of the participation of your organisation in these discussions and what is its experience in cooperating with the G8?
- Forming a common position of the NGOs from around the world on the energy-related issues. Also, establishing contacts with the foreign NGOs and official persons. The experience of cooperation between Greenpeace Russia and the G8 began with the 2006 summit in St Petersburg. This was a positive experience. Among the successes was organisation of the meetings between the NGOs and elaboration of a common stand. There was, of course, a number of aspects which still need improvement. I am primarily talking about monitoring the reactions of the G8 member states to the NGOs recommendations but also about the issue of fulfilment by the G8 of their own resolutions which at times arouses doubts.

- Are you satisfied with the results of the discussion of particularly the issues which your organisation focuses on? Will they have an impact on the position taken by the official G8?
- With regard to the decisions we are quite satisfied. The Bonn resolution on the future of atomic energetics was quite unambiguous - this is a dangerous source of energy which shall be abandoned. This was also the keynote of Gerhard Schroeder`s recent message. And this opinion is fairly radical. Will it be able to influence the position of the official G8? The experience of the previous summits shows that when it comes to atomic energy the decisions of the G8 differ from the opinions of the NGOs.

- How significant is, in your opinion, the extent to which the civil society is involved in the work of the G8 this year? How do you evaluate the degree of involvement of the civil society into this work and of the continuity with regard to the previous chairmanships? What is your assessment of the cooperation of the G8 with the NGOs?
- Taking into account the fact that so far all positive moves reached no further than the stage of declarations, the attitude to the Civil G8 is yet not as serious as we would like to have it. However, this is better than nothing. Each of the member states has its own cultural traditions and political approaches. That is why we cannot speak here of any unified continuity pattern. For example, the fact that the event in Germany appeared too commonplace to many is largely due to the fact that this is the normal way of holding political events there and there was nothing extraordinary about the Minister going out to the people. In Russia everything is quite different. Continuity is what we would still like to see.

Expert opinion

Halter Marek

02.12.06

Halter Marek
Le College de France
Olivier Giscard dEstaing

02.12.06

Olivier Giscard dEstaing
COPAM, France
Mika Ohbayashi

02.12.06

Mika Ohbayashi
Institute for Sustainable Energy Poliy
Bill Pace

02.12.06

Bill Pace
World Federalist Movement - Institute for Global Policy
Peter I. Hajnal

01.12.06

Peter I. Hajnal
Toronto University, G8 Research Group