The Italian government is seeking to promote a new assessment instrument at the G8 – a ‘whole of country’ approach to development. This would include other contributions to international development that come from G8 countries, from other sources like the private sector and civil society ranging from trade and investment to remittances.
Although in theory, this could offer a welcome step towards a more coherent approach to development, there is a high risk that it will be used as a smokescreen to hide the failure of G7 nations to meet their 2005 commitments. Though presented as inclusive, such an approach would in fact enable G7 nations to highlight their positive contributions to development while omitting key elements, such as outflows from developing countries assisted by tax havens and financial institutions based in G8 economies. Furthermore, this approach would ignore the significant negative impacts on developing countries of trade distortions caused by the continuing support for agriculture of both the EU and the US, together with the difficulties caused by restrictive rules of origin and non-tariff barriers.
Instead of a ‘whole of country’ approach, we recommend a ‘do no harm’ approach, whereby the G8 establish an independent audit mechanism to identify any G8 government or companies’ policies and practices that are having a negative impact on a country’s ability to develop.