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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 February, 2005, 18:28 GMT
What did the G7 meeting achieve?
UK Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown speaks during the G7 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting
We discussed the problem of poverty in Africa with South Africa's Minister of Finance Trevor Manuel in a special edition of our phone-in programme, Talking Point.

The Group of Seven wealthy nations are willing to write off up to 100% of the debt of the world's poorest countries.

Finance ministers from the world's seven richest nations gathered in London to discuss the global economy.

UK Chancellor Gordon Brown who chaired the talks said that debt relief will be agreed on a case by case basis for Hipc, or highly indebted poor countries.

What do you think the G7 meeting achieved? Should third world debt be written off? Will the US get on board? Do meetings like G7 get results? Send us your views.

This debate has now closed. Thank you for your comments.

The following comments reflect the balance of opinion we received:

I think that the G7 summit has to be seen as a step forward in getting important issues on the table and bringing them to the forefront of 1st World consciousness. If, however, Gordon Brown is truly committed to this then perhaps he should also put small arms trade on the agenda, an area in which Britain could really take a leading role.
Ann Robertson, Edinburgh, Scotland

Third world debt is a hangover from leftist policies of the past, pouring billions into corrupt governments. It's not a sinister corporate plot. What these poor countries need is liberty and opportunity.
Vernon, Nashville

The reach of the G7 is very far yet limits itself to expansion of capital
Joe, Michigan, USA

The reach of the G7 is very far yet limits itself to expansion of capital, it can achieve much more than it will. We can only predict that its achievements will benefit those who need it the least, mainly the minority.
Joe, Michigan, USA

I think the G7 should help Africa in terms of election organisation than this debt forgiveness because Africa has a lot of potential which if unmasked, will develop faster than expected.
Kingsley Ephraims, Aba, Nigeria

If the nation's leaders are corrupt then we should leave the debt in place
James Shields, Cottonwood, USA
We can and should write off the majority of the debt in Africa but that being said we need to better educate the Africans so that there will never be a time that they need to become co-dependant on the richest nations for there livelihood. We all can participate by letting the politicians in the G7 know that the debt should be reduced and that we are willing to take some responsibility for the developing world...but where will it end and how can we prevent it from happening in the future? If the nation's leaders are corrupt then we should leave the debt in place.
James Shields, Cottonwood, AZ, USA

I could support Brown's initiative on foreign debt only if some way could be found to exclude politicians from the process. Politicians are corrupt, dictatorial and incompetent. Public money is wasted in disgustingly large amounts.
Brian Langfield, Yorkshire, UK

The aim of the G7 is actually to farther bankrupt these poor nations especially in the Sub-Sahara by giving them loans with higher interest and less management.
Saadiq Ahmed, Goldogob, Somalis

What's disturbing is that no-one stops to think why the US is so reluctant to agree on financing this, as with others. It seems that the US is always the one that carries the weight when it comes to funding these international projects, while other economic powers give little to nothing.
Anon, US

You have debts in the first place because of mis-spending or because of real poverty. Someone writes off your debts. What then? You start again and take on new debts...
Arthur, UK

This is a wonderful initiative by the UK government and I applaud Mr Brown for taking the lead
Kate, Oxford, UK
I am terribly disappointed to read so many negative comments. However I suspect that most of these are from people who have never had first hand experience of poverty and suffering in the developing world. Corruption does exist, as it does in any country on this planet, but at least let's give poor countries the opportunity to do something for themselves . This is a wonderful initiative by the UK government and I applaud Mr Brown for taking the lead.
Kate, Oxford, UK

If people want to help the Third World, good luck to them - donate to the relevant charities and feel good about yourselves. Personally, I have other priorities and choose not to donate to Third World causes. I resent my government taking my tax and distributing it overseas. This is not what I pay tax for.
Christine Berridge, England

I am drawn to Nelson Mandela's comment on poverty, "it is man-made" for it's clarity and simplicity. It is not by chance that these people are poor; it is not because of poor choices made by those who suffer it. It is solely our responsibility. We have fed cheaply on the resources of those people over the centuries and it is time it stopped. As they are never likely to be able to repay the 'debt' I see no other option than to cancel it. After all it's only money. Maybe Gates, Branson and Shell etc should be willing participants in the process - please spare me the angst but really what do people need billions of $ for anyway.
Martin Blowers, Auckland, New Zealand

Everyone here is blaming the west for the problems as we don't allow free trade etc etc and therefore all 3rd world countries will remain poor. What about the tiger economies? These countries have been growing rapidly for a reasonably long time yet they started off as poor as some African countries. Thus you have to ask yourself why did these countries grow when others haven't and here will be your answer. Instead of always looking at the US/ Corporations to blame maybe we should be looking at the governments who run these poor countries.
Rob, Newick, UK

With or without the USA, let the G7 go ahead to implement the plan that will help poor countries get out of their poverty
Bonaventure Mpasa, Rome

For me it is very clear that if the third world has to move forward, their debts must be cancelled. There has been a lot of talk on debt cancellation but no action at all. Countries in Africa where I come from are paying heavily - their little earned income to offset debts. Their educational, health systems have suffered. Poverty does not seem to reduce because they have no resources to direct to poverty reduction. Please we have heard a lot of talks, now it time to act.

With or without the USA, let the G7 go ahead to implement the plan that will help poor countries get out of their poverty. I want to see more action so that something is done. Economic systems that are just must be put in place. The rich have a system that work to their favour and are very reluctant to change this system. Trade balance must be established so that the poor get into the markets of the rich nations. More investments must be made into countries that have favourable conditions.
Bonaventure Mpasa, Rome, Italy

Better terms of trade not aid says the old cliché. Billions could be given to poor nations, but if the powers-that-be misapply the monies, my villagers will continue to be poor: they will sleep in the dark because they cannot afford fuel for lanterns; they will die from disease because hospital bills cannot be paid. And more: the vicious cycle will never end. Better terms of trade and accountability please!
Paul Agbodza, Ghanaian in Wien, Germany

Excellent news, this will be a good start if it gets past the US. However, is it just me who's suspicious and sad that this initiative has had to come on the eve of a general election? Had I an even more suspicious mind, I might think that this has been suggested by the UK in full knowledge that the US will never allow it and it won't have to be done - while they rake in the good press. Perhaps I will be pleasantly surprised.
Vashti, Cardiff, Wales, UK

Well done to the USA for not supporting the government's ideas on Africa. Everyone who earns their money should be able to spend it how they see fit. I agree with Ed in Texas.
Victoria, Birmingham UK

The greatest thing that the G7 can achieve is a consensus that change must happen
Matthew Snape, Portsmouth, UK
Aid and debt relief are vital in making peoples lives better in the third world. Put simply, if more people get an education, if fewer people die the aid and debt relief are working. It is not a complete solution but that is no reason for not providing it. The greatest thing that the G7 can achieve is a consensus that change must happen. Not in 2010 or some far date but now.
Matthew Snape, Portsmouth, UK

I am not easily surprised, but after looking through readers' comments on this development, I am both shocked and dismayed. The cynicism coming from many readers on both sides of the political spectrum is appalling, nihilistic and fatuous. If we are to hope for a better world, then let us offer one by living better and sharing - whatever in our hearts we truly believe that means. If we truly cannot hope for a better world, then let's get out of the way for those who can. "Be the change you wish to see in the world" - Ghandi.
Mark Henderson, Edmonton, Canada

As an unabashed capitalist, I think this is excellent. Most of these loans were made to governments who took the money and spent it on behalf of their citizens. Except the citizens in question didn't really have any control over how the money was spent, or, in many cases stolen. Expecting these people to pay back debts incurred by governments from their parents' era is like a landlord billing his tenants' children for damage caused by a burglar.
James, Manchester

We need investment not handouts
Tummie, Port Elizabeth, SA
I would appreciate if the G7 countries were to seriously work hand in hand with Nepad, and what I would suggest is that some criteria needs to be looked into where for instance having erased the debt owed by this poor countries, those who are practising democracy are being funded, thus encouraging others to do likewise. When there is transparency and the proper structures put in place, that is when big companies will come and invest. We need investment not handouts.
Tummie, Port Elizabeth, SA

It's about time the West's leadership started pro-actively redressing poverty in the rest of the world. As globalisation shrinks our world we can no longer ignore poverty just because it is not at home. If there is a cost for this so be it.
Thomas Wheeler, Edinburgh, UK

I'm sick and tired of hearing Western nations referred to as "rich". Only a tiny percentage of our population is in a position to pay for the life they want, the rest must make do with cramped accommodation, second-hand cars, cheap furniture and bargain basement entertainment. To achieve this modest lifestyle, most of us have to work long hours in boring jobs and tolerate a noisy, overcrowded and polluted environment. Is this what it is to be "rich"? Gordon Brown is a well-meaning idealist but he ignores the fact that the "rich" citizens from whom he is asking donations feel almost as poor and unsatisfied as the average African village dweller.
Neil Bishrey, Paris, France

I do not believe that cancelling Nigeria's debt is what is holding Nigeria's leaders back from improving the economy
Chidi Nwamadi, Nigerian in Toulouse
I believe in debt relief and cancellation based on the fact that these rich nations have exploited the poorer ones. I do not however believe that cancelling Nigeria's debt is what is holding Nigeria's leaders back from improving the economy and the lives of Nigerians. It is corruption in the high and low places. Forgive Nigeria's debt today and make Obasanjo, his friends and some State Governors richer tomorrow. But I plead that these debts be forgiven with strict conditions attached that will monitor the proper execution of the dividends.
Chidi Nwamadi, Nigerian in Toulouse

Well done Gordon Brown He has shown immense leadership in achieving this goal, all he has to do know is to convince the rich nations of the world to invest a similar amount of money so the poorest nations can be self sufficient and not have to run up similar debts again.
Mark Riley, Northampton UK

Whilst I disagree with the concept of "third world debt" and think that it should be cancelled forthwith, I can't help thinking this is little more than a stunt drawing publicity for the Labour government and others like them. Cancelling debt doesn't eradicate poverty - it simply gives countries a starting-point for rebuilding themselves. It is a good step, but it is certainly not the be-all-and-end-all. Go, Gordon, but don't stop here!
Rich Daley, Manchester, UK

I think some people a missing the point here. Most of these countries have paid back the money they originally borrowed many times over in interest payments and will never repay the loan if they carry on like this. In personal banking this arrangement is called loan sharking, and at the moment we acting like thugs.
James Mitchell, London

Well done to Gordon Brown
Joshua Edbrooke, Bristol
Well done to Gordon Brown. Poverty must be alleviated and he's taking steps to accomplish this. We need trade justice for these countries.
Joshua Edbrooke, Bristol

Giving a loan or grant to the country without accountability to its use? Isn't this how we create greedy leaders who use it for personal gratification rather then help the citizens?

Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish...
Owen Foster-Brown, London England

The problem of poverty in Africa is the same as in the richest countries except that the discrepancy between rich and poor is greater and the percentage of rich is smaller. Debt relief might help slightly but the real problem is the system itself. The only way to eliminate poverty is by means of a fair socialist society and far more equal distribution of wealth. This would help alleviate poverty here in Britain as well.
Raymond Rudaizky, London, UK

Forgiving third world debt isn't a magic bullet to solve their poverty
Steve Mac, Boston MA USA
A brilliant job has been done of convincing us in the West that third world loans are theft and we are all thieves, while it is third world governments trying to make off with billions of our dollars. Perhaps, after eliminating third world debt, the G7 can forgive my debt too. Eliminating everyone's debt, student loans, credit cards, car payments and mortgages, would give us all a big boost on the road to prosperity. The obvious problem with this is it would eliminate capitol and bring the capitalist system to a screaming stop, leaving nothing for tomorrow. Forgiving third world debt isn't a magic bullet to solve their poverty any more than making the loans in the first place was. Acquiring debt responsibly and managing it properly would be.
Steve Mac, Boston, MA, USA

British politicians like to talk about 'poverty' as if it's something that only happens elsewhere. 12.4 million people exist below the official Poverty Line in this Country, how about a 'Marshall Plan' for Britain?
Dream, Huddersfield, Britain

The US Treasury Secretary summed it up nicely when he talked about "what works for us". Surely it's more important to do what is best for the poorest countries in the world rather than the richest and most powerful?
Simon, Poole

Do not make a loan; give it to them as a gift
Sam, Ferndale, Michigan

I don't understand what the fuss is all about. Isn't a grant better than a loan? A grant does not need to be paid back whereas a loan does, but, often is not paid back by the borrower. I learned a long time ago if a real close friend or family member needs money and I have the money available. Do not make a loan; give it to them as a gift - with no questions asked. This effort will save a friendship and prevent a lot of future grief.
Sam, Ferndale, Michigan, USA

Don't blame the West. Throwing money at the problem is a crutch that will keep them crippled. Modernize the way the poor think and you will modernize their economies.
Nils Sundborg, Newton, New Jersey, US

I'm personally proud of the fact that we have a Prime Minister (and Chancellor) who believe that powerful countries have a responsibility to help less fortunate countries. Gordon Brown wants to write off Third world debt. This is excellent and although I'm sure they have their reasons, it seems sadly typical that the US is the only country opposed to this. Maybe it's got something to do with the multi-trillion dollar deficit?
AK Drummond

All debt for African countries should be cancelled. Then all loans and grants should be cancelled. Until these tin pot regimes learn how to look after their own people then we are throwing good money after bad. The less we have to do with them the better. Currently it's guilt by association.
Cameron, UK

At least the US is honest
Yury Shmuylovich, USA

Since everyone is calling to debt relief, how are loans different from grants if they are never to be re-paid? At least the US is honest.
Yury Shmuylovich, USA

If they held G7 meetings in impoverished countries such as Bangladesh, Chad, Paraguay and Papua New Guinea it would be a start. The revenue for hotels, restaurants and the like from all the politicians, lobbyists and media would be worth a considerable amount to these economies.
Alex, Aylesbury, UK

If we grant some money - we can say what is done with the money. If we loan it we have no say. Is that what the Americans are thinking? They want to dictate how money normally loaned is spent in other sovereign countries? Gordon Brown is an honourable man, and it is a great pity to see this sort of initiative stifled by the seemingly selfish interest of the USA.
John Colby, Market Bosworth, UK

Each one of these conferences takes another step to helping the poor countries escape poverty
Will, Lima, Peru
Serious strides are being taken and made by these governments. I am particularly impressed that Tony Blair is focusing on Africa as I thought he had quietly let his "Free Africa from Poverty" speech disappear. Poverty is not going to be solved overnight, but each one of these conferences takes another step to helping the poor countries escape poverty. Let's applaud the fact that THIS conference will probably result in lifting thousands out of poverty. While not the millions we all call for, for each one of those thousands, this conference will be a real life changing. As well as criticizing their every move, let us also applaud and pray for our elected leaders.
Will, Lima, Peru

Change will only come about when ordinary people will it. The unprecedented amount of donations for the tsunami disaster was raised by the compassion of ordinary people. Look at the hollow words and paltry contributions that the UK and US governments originally made. If we could do it for the tsunami survivors we can do it worldwide.
Hilary Traveller, Guildford, UK

Sorry, but many of the posters here are stuck in some sort of outmoded mercantilist thinking. World wealth is not a zero-sum game, and in fact it has been consistently rising across the board. The gap has been widening even faster, but that's due to trade protectionism and anti-globalisation, the pet causes of those clamouring for the end of world poverty.
Olivia Braxton, Hayward, CA, USA (UK expat)

"I sit on a man's back, choking him and making him carry me, and yet assure others that I am very sorry for him and wish to ease his lot by all possible means - except by getting off his back..? Leo Tolstoy

If governments really wanted to do something, they already would have. I am sick an tired of being told by people who, as opposed to me, know they will never have any material problems, what needs to be done to help even poorer people. It's like that rock star in that ad saying: "this village needs just £2000 to get back on its feet". Well, if you give a tenth of what you got paid for doing that commercial, they should be OK for generations to come. What are they hoping for, that we lose interest so that they don't have to pretend they care any more?
Ed Karten, London, England

Specifically regarding Mandela and South Africa, he would do well to be more forceful and demanding of Mbeki and his clan to do more for South Africans afflicted by Aids, poverty, and other myriad problems. After all Mandela has leverage with Mbeki, more than the average South African.
Jarconay, US

While I do not doubt Mr. Mandela's commitment to ending global poverty, I must disagree with his view that aid will rectify the problem. Ultimately, the problem lies within the disproportionate economic relations between the West and the rest. Unlike the growth of Western countries, the Third World cannot prosper because it has no control over its economic policy, which is dictated by the World Bank and IMF acting as agents of the Western multinationals, resulting in massive unemployment, terrible health and education standards. Until these economic relations are rectified, a colossal mission, nothing will change.
Scott M, Livingston, Scotland

It is pointless emptying water into a bucket full of holes. Similarly it is pointless sending aid to countries whose regimes are corrupt. These regimes though are protected by international law and any effort to force change would be met with hostility. Unless we change this attitude then all the fine words will serve only to increase the amount of CO2 there is.
Ged, Liverpool

The only thing it will achieve is to give the leaders of the world's richest nations an opportunity to claim that they are 'committed' to eradicating world poverty... but it's nothing more than an exercise in spin. It is an empty promise that has been made time and again but never results in action. As long as people like Ed from Houston would rather watch people die of starvation than give up their third car, nothing will improve.
Adele, North Yorkshire, UK

Without a meeting, nothing is planned - nothing is achieved
Taslima, London
Without a meeting, nothing is planned - nothing is achieved. Since this involves different countries in different part of the world, the G7 Economic forum is a good thing but will be successful only and only if they commit themselves to what they say. The area they should debate and focus on is various Educational Programmes. Educating the poor and providing the necessary means will enable them to lead a better and independent life. However, at an initial stage, other measures as subsidies and grants can be provided to alleviate their agricultural problems to accelerate development.
Taslima, London

The G7 meet and every attempt is made to ensure that these countries they represent remain the economic powers of the world. They have vested interest in what they do and therefore they are ineffective at solving the problems they claim to want to solve. They and their agenda should be ignored.
Chris, Alexandria, Virginia, USA

Why do they have to waste so much money on travelling and hospitality, not to mention the pollution that the planes carrying them all will generate? Why don't they use conference calls over video links? We have the technology, why don't they use it?
Bob, UK

I think we in the west have been very clever to keep the poor countries with enormous debts, and most of with punitive trade restrictions. American neighbours, Mexico, Nicaragua, Cuba, Haiti and Dominican Republics are among the poorest in the region, and while we are donating millions to help tsunami victims, very little has been paid to these countries after natural disasters. It is time for us to help our neighbouring countries in the same tone we preach to help our own neighbours.
Ismail Saadiq, Plano, Texas

"God does not help people who don't help themselves"- says an old Proverb. And neither should we, unless we make our help conditional on poor countries, especially the African ones, to take steps and implement measures that would convincingly demonstrate to the potential donors, that their help will not be wasted as it has been so many times in the past, with nothing to show for it. I predict, that unless such changes occur, the outpouring of assistance and good will witnessed after the tsunami disaster will soon trickle down to nil. Most people and nations are willing to help the less fortunate, but nobody likes to be taken for a ride, and repeatedly, to boot.
Mirek Kondracki, Bielsko-Baiala, Poland

I suggest that World leaders concentrate on controlling population growth rather than being concerned with economic growth
John M, UK
The achievements of past meetings are the best indicator of the prospects for this meeting. Being unable to think of any obvious achievements from the past I suggest that World leaders concentrate on controlling population growth rather than being concerned with economic growth.
John M, UK

It is a total fallacy that an increased standard of living for poorer countries means a lower standard of living for the first world. When poor countries develop economically everyone benefits, especially multi-nationals. What the rich world should do is stop protecting their farming, textile, steel and auto industries against more efficient competition from developing countries. The rich world should also honour the commitment made to provide 0.7% of GDP in aid.
Mark Layton, De Meern, The Netherlands

Goodness me, I've never read such a load of negative feedback from your correspondents before. Of course it's good that G7 meets and the ministers discuss the problems, but what can us ordinary folk do to help? When we drive to the supermarket to load up our trolleys, look for the "Fair trade" brands for a start. Cut down on waste. Try and give a little more to the charities. And above all, stop whingeing and be thankful for our lot!
Terence H Coleman, Thornton Heath, UK

G7 nations of today can't overlook the rapidly growing economy of China and India. It's estimated by several analysts, these two nations to get within top five in next 15-20 years time. I'd say G7 meeting should work the from global point of view and not go in a vain with every nation looking tightly into their economic development, resulting in a final end in non-negotiable way.
S Sen Chaudhury, Calcutta, India

As long as large multinational corporations are backed by laws that strive to make their shareholders happy at the cost of depriving the poor countries their ability to compete on a global level the rich will only get richer and the poor will always get poorer. The major economic powers have always backed their firms in expanding their markets globally by in most cases depriving the local firms in poor countries their competitive advantages. The US for example that has always backed free trade agreements outside their borders to promote their economies, have on the other hand imposed trade and tariff barriers against products that can threaten their ability to compete in their own economy.
Hisham Youssef, Cairo, Egypt

To Hisham Youssef, Egypt: Don't forget the two billion dollars the US gives Egypt. Maybe we should stop that. What do you think?
Barbara, New York, USA

To Barbara, New York, USA: And what conditions are tied to the two billion dollars? Incidentally how much of that money is spent on the general society - very little I wager
Stefan, Leeds, UK

There will be huge strides forward in hyperbole and posturing and grand gestures, perhaps even a moving speech or two. Then they will all climb aboard their executive jets, replete from fine wines and cordon bleu food, and fly obliviously over the sweatshops housing the men, women and children who stitch the thread on their expensive suits for 50p a day.
Josephine, Norwich, Norfolk

I do not expect the G7 to achieve much because the poor nations mostly in Africa they want to help are the enemies of themselves. If corruption is not curbed there will be no progress.
Benedict Ageloisa, Benin City, Nigeria

G7 is supposed to be the 7 most powerful economic countries but that is changing fast. This year the finance ministers of China, India, Russia and Brazil have been invited. Within 10 years from now these four countries economies will be lager them some of the G7 nations. In 25 to 50 years the US will not be the largest economy in the world. It is time the G7 nations recognised this and set about changing the rules to include them and perhaps exclude some of the existing nations or treat the EEC as one nation. The same goes for the UN.
B Selvadurai, Klang, Malaysia

Just one thing would drastically improve the outlook for the future for developing countries. Not handouts, not even debt relief, but fair trading conditions. The scandalously unfair trade rules that the rich countries of the west impose on the world deliberately and openly keep the rich rich and the poor poor. Whilst we flood third world markets with massively subsidised goods and put high tariffs on goods from third world countries they will never ever be able to work themselves out of poverty.
Katherine, London, UK

As usual, it's just a waste of time and money. Perhaps if G7 finance ministers met in a drought-stricken 3rd world country and had to live the same way as the impoverished locals for a few days, we might see some results.
P Humphrey, Newcastle

These people will achieve what they always achieve. Nothing for the poorer people of the world, and plenty for the richer. It should be remembered that G7 is about expanding markets and "profit reform", which is a way of saying, it is about pampering corporate greed. G7 only achieves what it sets out to achieve; exploitation of somebody else's resources, somebody else's lives.
Jennifer Hynes, Plymouth, UK

If people really want change then people are going to have to campaign to change the system
Andrew Hirst, Leeds, UK
The reason world poverty exists is not rocket science. The vast amount of the world's wealth is owned and controlled by a few rich countries and elite multi-national corporations. The only discussions at the G7 will be in regard to how much (or little) of this wealth these countries are prepared to give away to 'charity'. Anyone believing that this is really going to make significant difference and bring equality into our world is living in cloud cuckoo land. If people really want change then people are going to have to campaign to change the system and stop absolving the world's few, yet ridiculously powerful politicians from their moral responsibility to our fellow human beings.
Andrew Hirst, Leeds, UK

Nothing - it's a very expensive talking shop.
Gary, Lancs, UK

Nothing tangible may be achieved by this one single meeting or any other in the near future. However if we don't keep talking nothing ever will be achieved. Surely it is better to try and fail than to do nothing at all.
Karen, Sheffield

No matter what is done to try to 'help the poor' the majority of the money will be used to line the pockets of the politicians of the Third World countries or used for arms. Until there are full strict controls over the use of any monies sent to these places no further funding should be made available.
J Burdall, Matlock, England

A pointless exercise which will achieve nothing. This will always be the case until people of worth and decency become politicians. Needless to say this will never happen.
Derek S, UK

Everyone in the world cannot be well off as long as global corporations are insistent on making profit
John R, London, UK
I am sceptical that anything can be achieved, also the make poverty history campaign although well meaning, is unlikely to make much impact, the fact is that everyone in the world cannot be well off as long as global corporations are insistent on making profit, when the world ceases to run like a company is the time things will change.
John R, London, UK

Having visited a number of Third world scenes of squalor I can really appreciate why on humanitarian grounds we need to alleviate this. The other horn of the dilemma though is that if another six billion people achieve even 20% of the economic activity of the richest 600 million we will need to pump twice the oil , cut twice the trees and do how much more damage to the environment and global diversity? Can the planet really sustain all the people to the standards which we lead people to want and believe they can have?
John Galpin, Cookham

This summit can achieve everything that this world is crying out for - but will not commit itself to anything!
John M Beckett, London, UK

I think this G7 meeting is more about appearing to do the right thing, rather than accomplishing anything of real substance or value. Could there be a hint of international self-image boosting?
Andy Bird, Cheshire, UK

I am not giving up my daily Starbucks and my three family cars for world peace
ED, Houston, TX
It strikes me as odd that it has not occurred to anybody that in order for the rich to stay rich the poor must stay poor. Do any of the wealthy countries really want to give up some of their comforts so that another country can reach middle class status? Summits give the appearance of effort and concern not real solutions. Get with the politics of life people! Just as beauty queens protest in pageants that they want world peace, I do too, but I am not giving up my daily Starbucks and my three family cars for world peace. Sorry!
ED, Houston, TX

To Ed, Houston: I think you need to get real! What these poor countries want is not "Middle class" lifestyles, just above the poverty line would do nicely. No wonder our world is coughing on fumes when a family feels the need for three cars?
Peter, England

The comment from Ed, Houston really sums it up. People like the idea of removing world poverty and promoting world peace but are too self-centred and selfish to bother giving up even one of three cars! I would gladly give up much of what I have to ensure this world was a safer, cleaner, less corrupt place to live. We owe it to our children and to ourselves.
Kerin, Glasgow

Ed's comment is a reaction to the 'blame-the-west-for-the-third-world's-problems' mentality. It sounds cold but people should know that much of this country also was poor and rather backward until the 1930s or later. And if you compare Ed's comments to the blind hatred of the west coming from so much of the third world, is there any difference? The west is trying to help, but it has to be a two-way street and people have to be willing to take some responsibility for their own conditions including the attitudes they create.
Jeremy, Atlanta, USA

To dear Ed: The only constant in life is change. You have 3 cars and enough money but I wonder 30 yrs on where will you be?
Taimoor, Winnipeg, Canada

To Ed, Texas and his detractors: Ed voices an honest opinion which he can quite easily sustain and shows why Bush and Blair will do nothing as a result of the summit. Someone else's poverty doesn't get any votes so it can be ignored. If Ed has to pay more tax on his cars to relieve world poverty then the party that raised the tax is in danger of losing political power and what do humans desire above all else? Power. To those who criticise Ed for being selfish, which he is, look to your own selfishness. The biggest problem for the world is people! Colour, creed and nationality are totally irrelevant. So if you want to help, remove yourself from the damaging agent, i.e. the human race. More for everyone else then and you will be the one who has not been selfish. Don't like this idea! Well you and Ed are just the same, but only one of you is being honest.
Steve, Fleet, UK

To address Ed, Houston's point: Luxury is not necessarily a bad thing. A Starbuck's once in a while, or perhaps a short drive in a nice, big, expensive car may be a sin that we can indulge in once in a while, but the rich take it to too far an extreme. What exactly do people do with three cars? It's just needless hording on the part of the rich countries, and they can afford to give some of this up to help get the third world back on their feet.
Darryl L, Paderborn, Germany

To Ed, Houston, Texas: You are of course absolutely correct that the rich world will have to accept a reduced standard of living, to ensure the poor in the world have enough to eat. However, you seem to think that if we (the rich world) simply thumb our noses at the poor, they will accept this as their lot. This attitude is the real pie in the sky. Poverty is the root of terrorism. Desperate people will take desperate measures. In short if you won't share, the have nots will try to take it away from you by force. History is replete with examples of this dynamic. Now for the first time it applies not to a single nation but the entire world. We'd better get it sorted or face the consequences, which could be dire indeed.
Brian Coughlan, Alingsås

Ed, Texas is quite right. I am not going to give up anything for the Third world. Quite frankly I don't really care, I admit to this freely and without any fear of any verbal recriminations. As for the terrorist threat as outlined by some later contributor. I'm quite happy to take the risk, provided my government responds with substantial and over whelming force. Sorry but I really don't care!
R Martin, Rainham, Kent, UK

A huge photo-op for the suits, feeding their egos
D Stewart, North Carolina, USA
To Ed, Houston: You are jolly lucky you can afford Starbucks and three cars, when so many of the world's population is starving. It's all about the collective conscience and how those who have a comfortable life can help others rise from poverty. To use the reasoning that the poor have to stay that way in order for the rich to be so is utterly ludicrous and completely shallow. The G7 is always the same - a huge photo-op for the suits, feeding their egos and accomplishing exactly nothing.
D Stewart, North Carolina, USA

Instead of the G7 summit it should be called the Pipedream society. I would love the world debt to be dropped, I would love for every man woman and child to be warm, fed and watered with adequate shelter and I would love peace throughout the world. Unfortunately this isn't reality. Ed in Houston summed it up, while selfish people think it's ok to have three family cars and Starbucks on a daily basis and are still able to sleep at night, making poverty history will only ever be a pipe dream. Politicians meet and act concerned because it wins them votes but the facts are whilst some people are starving we aren't, which proves that the "I'm alright Jack, pull the ladder up" mentality of this world!
Jo, Plymouth, UK

If the G7 countries are serious about ending poverty and promoting growth in poor countries they will agree a programme to phase out their own agricultural subsidies and other protective barriers against the third world's exports. Anything else will be window-dressing.
David, London

The world produces plenty of food for it's current population, yet, millions starve. It is far from easy to resolve this and the G7 will make little headway as usual. Mainstream politicians are hypocrites whose main concern is staying in power - and emphatically not the welfare of millions of people who are very far away and have no votes.
Clarke Pitts, London, UK

The G7 summit will accomplish nothing. Summits rarely do. The people who are there don't really care about the plight of the people of the world. They only care about there own back yard. If they feel they need to make a gesture they might but they will make sure they get something out of it.
Anon, UK

I think the over-population of the world is affecting the world economy drastically
Dirk DK, London
I think the over-population of the world is affecting the world economy drastically. It affects ecological degradation and pollution. It places unsustainable demands on limited resources. It needs to be addressed robustly and universally, there is no time to waste.
Dirk DK, London

I notice that both Japan and USA are 'reluctant' to support the Make Poverty History campaign, I'm a little surprised by Japan, but not surprised that Bush wants to keep the third world in the third world.
Ast, Chichester, UK

Nothing! that's not cynical, its just the truth.
Mark, Sussex, UK

Rich countries mull growth plans
04 Feb 05 |  Business
Mandela calls for poverty action
03 Feb 05 |  Politics
Brown in 100% debt relief pledge
28 Jan 05 |  Business

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