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Expert Opinion

International Round Table 16.02.06. Expert Opinions

Peter Ritchie, Chatham House' NGOs Program Coordinator

Peter Ritchie politely refused to compare today's meeting of NGOs with the one, held last year in GB. FROM `en_en_his` point of view, the main attention should be paid to the definition of the direction of this meeting. In other words, clearly define what the result should be like. Just talking would not lead the meeting to the desired effects. It should be kept in mind that ministers of the G8 cooperate with a wide range of specialists in the raised subjects, so this meeting would hardly be able to give then the information they do not know. The role of the NGO is to help the GO to choose the most acute issues out of the long lists that they already have. NGO can also suggest constructive and concrete measures to be taken by the government. That's what the participants should concentrate on. Mr. Ritchie also mentioned that the participants are mistaken in their efforts in reaching consensus, as well as in working out a declaration, which is not possible here at all. Together with other foreign experts Mr. Ritchie pointed it out that the word declaration implies a signed document and this round table does not have uh rights, possibilities, most important, aims. As the main goal of this meeting, is to provide a rich flow of ideas. Evidently, no one can guarantee that those questions would influence the final decisions, but the last year experience proves that they are taken into consideration. To improve the communication with the leaders of the G8 Summit, the participants should work on the brevity of the final paper, not more than A4 format and its being practical. Mr. Ritchie hopes that there will be wider range of experts (FROM `en_en_business`, youth etc) at the March meeting, as it seems that today the word "expert" is understood in a wrong way: as someone with the official degree, which is not the case at this event. In any case, Peter Ritchie thinks that the only fact that the meeting is taking place is a very good result itself.

John Kirton, University of Toronto, Director of the G8 Research Group

John Kirton mentioned the positive influence of the last year meeting that made the question of the climate change one of the agendas of the G8 Summit. So he hopes that today the same accent would be made on the energy security. He agrees that it is important to point out the priorities, but it should be realized that all of the issues should be finally dealt with.

He supports Russian suggestions on promoting gas instead of oil, but he again points out that it is only a temporary measure. Alternative sources of energy should be the final long-term goal, set today. Frequent oil spill and the nuclear waste storage are other problems that should be raised at the discussion.

He also believes that one of the priorities is the creation of the global market

All the ideas should not be of academia character but have a practical value.

John Kirton believes that the major role that NGO can play in the question of the energy security lies in the public education about energy and the ways to economize it. Here it is important for NGO to take responsibility for the influence on the public mentality as only a totalitarian country can expect this FROM `en_en_their` government. Mr. Kirton sees the final goal of the round table - to help the leaders of the Summit choose the right priorities.

Gerald Knauf, German NGOs Forum on Environment and Development

Gerald Knauf mentioned that this meeting is taking place too late compared to the German tradition, where the government asks NGOs for suggestions months before the official Summit. He notices that the strong accent is put on the gas and nuclear sources, whish is quite understandable, considering Russia's place in the world market. But he believes that it is important to realize that there are short term measures and alternative sources deserve much more attention right now, as if the present state of the things will continue, within 15 years we'll confront serious global problems (climate change).

Mr Knauf does not support the idea to call the final paper declaration as there is nothing to declare or sign at this round table. As for division of the paper into two parts: Russian and International, he does not see any problem in that, as long as this line is not too sharp, as Russia can be hardly excluded FROM `en_en_the` world state of the things. Unlike Peter Ritchie, he makes a clear separation between business and social civil groups and thinks that the first should not be part of the round table.

Sanja Vashist, Climate Action Network International

S. Vashist believes that Russia plays a very important role in solving the problem of the global climate change and hopes that, taking the presidency of this year Summit, Russia will continue what UK started and developed last year. He sees the problem in Russia's tendency to stand for the usage of the heavy oil, building oil-pipes. As other experts he supports the idea of transition to gas, while Russia does not see it as a long term action and finally will pay more and more attention to the renewals.

As for the degree of the NGO influence, S. Vashist frankly says that he does not know the answer on this question, but he strongly believes that it is important that they are trying to do their best. He does not support participants' eagerness to work out the final paper and call it declaration. The main aim of this round table is to prepare the March meeting, make it as effective as possible, that is make sure that many Civil Organization can participate and their voice will be heard. Then it will contribute a lot to the work of the NGOs in the sphere of energy security.

Evgeny Bunimovich, the chairman of the City State Duma Committee of Education

It is important to confess that there are no real effective mechanism of the civil society influence in the world, though lots of us have learnt to talk about them.

As far as Russia is concerned, the Civil Society cannot formulate its correlation with the Government and the system of Education. There is no structure in that process.

When preparing the list of suggestions on the agenda of the G8 meeting, NGOs should pay more attention to the issues that are most acute today, instead for discussing general questions and wording.

Lately the Society has clearly defined the problem of "our people - strangers" and which finds its reflection n education as well. The conflict affects the interests of the disabled children, children of the migrants and other vulnerable society groups.

How should education react at the conflicts of this kind and what new approaches should be developed?

There two main direction in educating children FROM `en_en_the` vulnerable society groups. There special schools attended by the disabled children or by the children FROM `en_en_national` minority groups or FROM `en_en_the` minority confessions. FROM `en_en_my` point of view, we need integration that is more schools that would educate children FROM `en_en_different` social strata, nationalities and religions. It is one of the crucial issues that should be in the list of the NGOs' suggestions.

Mahga Kamal - Health Advisor, Oxford, UK

First of all, why is it infection diseases that are included in the G8 summit agenda out of the whole range of medical issues.

First it is the high death rate that they cause.

Second, the infection diseases break all the limits, that's why every disease spreads world-wide.

Third, there is a certain succession of the G8 agenda, which holds true for the infections diseases.

- Do you believe the NGOs can contribute to the formulation of the social issues agenda for the G8 Summit?

Undoubtedly they can. Moreover, it is important to realize that NGO recommendations are of much value as NGOs are the organizations who deal directly with people and they know the real state of things.

There is a lot required for Russia to succeed in the infectious disease control. There is a need for finances, need of information about different countries experience in this question, need for professional, which means for training and educating programs. Finally, there is a need for close cooperation between NGO and experts.

Pierre Corteret, International Medicine Expert.

Your country may lack the experience and strength. But the mere fact that Russia has left behind the totalitarian tradition is very important. This is a real step toward a Civil Society.

To create a real effective Social Health Control System, Russia needs considerable resources. At present not all of the Russian regions have such resources, so we cannot expect this minute result. First of all, we need to rouse wide social reaction, then the combination of the efforts, those of experts and Civil Society institutions, will bring results.

John Kirton, University of Canada

Today we can say that nongovernmental organizations' consultations to work out agenda suggestions for the G8 Summit is a tradition. But there are traditions forming inside of this one.

One of them is Sherpas visiting all of the G8 countries before the Summit. It has been done for several years. Last year, video conference was one of the communication forms inside of the NGO group as well as with other structures.

In such a big country as Russia, it is important to establish different forms of communication within NGO community. As there is no chance to really contribute to the G8 Summit agenda formulation without constant close contact between NGOs.

It is also important to provide all the possibilities for the spontaneous NGO ideas, before and during the Summit, as the organized meetings and developed recommendations cannot express the possible spontaneous attitudes. That's why it is essential for the "CivilG8" project to work out the possibilities for the NGO representatives' meetings.

Sergey Pak, Russian Academy of Medicine member-correspondent, Ph.D.

The NGO decisions are essential for the experts who have to fight with the infectious diseases. The doctors value the help of the Society. It was practiced in by sanitary social groups in soviet times.

As for the processional issues, first, we need scientific research globalization. In future we need a special scientific Center, that would analyze the trends, statistics and give answers to the most acute question - what will happen next? How will the situation develop?

Second, we need a correlated system of education - professors, doctors, nurses, hospital attendants. It would contribute to the level of treatment and preventive measures.

Ian Whitman - Education Department of the Economic collaboration and Development Organization - France.

The role of NGO is hard to overestimate. The mere fact that they represent the whole society, not a particular group, says how important their work should be and what responsibility they bear. These are journalists who are usually called "watchdogs", but I think it fully relates to the nongovernmental organizations.

I think in Education sphere, NGOs should play the same role they play in other spheres - formulate the main social needs and carry out the social control after the activities of the Institutions and Government representatives.

I would formulate the main issue for the experts working in the education sphere as follows: provide the equal access to the education on all the levels - primary, secondary, higher and professional.

Modern world education is a complicated and multi step process. I am for the integrative education, as it gives chances not only acquire the knowledge but participate in the intercultural dialogue.

Oleg Zykov, Presidant of the "No to alcoholism and drug addiction"

Which organizations can effectively solve the problems of the civil Society?

I think these are not the large NGO that set global problems, but so called "at grass" NGO that help in solving real everyday problems. Because the main thing in the civil society is to create the conditions when a person can deal with his problems himself and it is not the government that always solves them.

Personally, I am concerned with tomorrow. And tomorrow are our children. There are more than enough problems in this sphere: AIDS, drugs, infant criminality, etc. The problem is that there is not even juridical basis for solving these problems. Russia does not have juvenile justice. Ella Pamfilova is doing a lot in that area but she is almost by herself, it is hardly possible to overestimate the importance of juvenile justice.

Many countries came to this conclusion many years ago. In France, the first act of juvenile justice appeared in 1945! And it happened in the times when there were lots of problems caused by the war. In Russia we cannot find founds for that even at the time of economic growth.

In March 2005 Ella Pamfilova had a meeting with President Vladimir Putin and raised this question. President agreed on creating juvenile justice. I think the leaders of G8 should serious discuss this issue at the Summit.

Expert opinion

Halter Marek


Halter Marek
Le College de France
Olivier Giscard dEstaing


Olivier Giscard dEstaing
COPAM, France
Mika Ohbayashi


Mika Ohbayashi
Institute for Sustainable Energy Poliy
Bill Pace


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


Peter I. Hajnal
Toronto University, G8 Research Group