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Gleneagles a year on


Twelve months ago we had no World Cup. Back then the talk was of finding an end to extreme poverty in Africa and responding to the growing threat from climate change.

It is almost exactly a year since world leaders gathered in Gleneagles to find real solutions to these massive issues.

Yet, despite massive global effort, massive funding and massive funding commitment, even Tony Blair would be hard pressed to say that we are really any closer to solving either.

But a start has been made. As I wrote last June: 'Successfully making poverty history will require the very real conversion of a few good words, some strong conviction and a bucket load of optimism into tangible steps to change the economics of a continent.

'Not a straight forward challenge at all.' This week the government published a 15 page booklet G8 Gleneagles: One year on.

Turning talk into action to explain what has been achieved.

It is difficult to know what to make of it. On the one hand, having secured global commitment, could we perhaps have expected more tangible results?

On the other hand, it is clear that the scale of the problem is so huge that even multi-billion dollar investments become quickly swallowed up.

This week the world's second richest man, Warren Buffet, decided to give away 85% of his fortune - some £17bn - to the charitable foundation set up by Bill Gates, the world's richest individual.

By any measure, these are extraordinary sums. And when added to the Gates Foundation's £20bn pot, the potential for charitable good-doing is in a league well beyond the dreams of most charities - most countries for that matter.

But compare this to the global need and to the amounts already committed and we quickly see the scale of the problem.

As the government's booklet points out this week:

Gleneagles resulted in an extra $50bn (£27.7bn) of aid pledged by nations by 2010 - half going to Africa

Last year global aid rose 31.4% to £59bn

The UK gave £5.9bn in aid and exceeded its target of giving £555M to Africa.

All EU countries aspire to donating 0.7% of national income to aid.

Over £27.7bn of debt owed by the world's 43 poorest counties will be written off.

On the other side of the equation as the booklet points out:

More than 1bn people still lack access to a water supply, over two billion live without sanitation,

2.2M people die each year from diseases related to contaminated drinking water

Over 100M primary school children are out of school and,

Less than 20% of 6.5M people need urgent access to AIDS drugs could get them.

Then there's climate change.

Twelve months ago in this column I optimistically pointed out that 'no one should ever underestimate how far a few good words, some strong conviction and a bucket load of optimism can take you.' We have made a start - and there is some good news as a result of the massive effort and emphasis given to these global issues.

There has been talk and there is even optimism. But the facts demonstrate that we certainly cannot, as Tony Blair's booklet puts it, cease 'turning talk into action'.

Antony Oliver is NCE's editor To access the G8 one year on report go to www. uk

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