Quebec City: The world’s French-speaking nations, rich and poor, at a summit seized by global financial woes called for multilateral crisis talks, agreed to cut CO2 emissions and defend the French language.
“It was the first north-south forum to take into account, to discuss what is actually going on in the world amid the global financial meltdown,” said co-host Quebec Premier Jean Charest.
The 70-member Francophonie in its final declaration supported French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s call for talks to discuss a revamp of the banking system, with Group of Seven industrialized nations and Russia, as well as China, India, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, the secretary general of the United Nations, and the heads of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund.
“Persuaded that no country is safe from the turmoil that has shaken world credit markets and that the unrest demands an urgent and coordinated response, we commit to support an international summit on this question,” it said.
On Saturday, Sarkozy, US President George W. Bush, and European Commission chief Jose Manuel Barroso agreed at Bush’s Maryland retreat on a series of summits beginning after the 4November presidential election.
But there were already signs of different visions for the summits, with European leaders pushing for a radical overhaul of the whole financial architecture while Bush said the foundations must be preserved.
Crisis talks to focus on needs of developing nations
The crisis talks, said the Francophonie, must keep in mind the needs of developing nations. And they must not undermine major UN efforts to eradicate poverty, fight against the effects of climate change and address a food crisis, urged member heads of state and UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon.
Canada’s Prime Minister Stephen Harper, also co-host of the summit, announced $100 million in aid for “small, insular and vulnerable” countries to help deal with climate change.
Poorer countries do not have access to the financial markets, and so the meltdown has had no direct effect on them, he explained. “But since these (developed) countries are our economic partners, of course we’re concerned about its possible impact on our economies,” Compaore said.
“If the global economic slowdown persists, we’ll certainly face difficulties selling our natural resources at a good price and northern nations are sure to become more protectionist, particularly in the agricultural sector,” he warned.
Many southern hemisphere nations are reliant on commodities exports, delegates noted, and are bracing for a jolt from the recent plunge in metals and other natural resources prices.
Pledges to help cut greenhouse gas emissions
At its close, the Francophonie summit reaffirmed its backing of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Kyoto Protocol, and pledged to help cut global greenhouse gas emissions in half by 2050.
As well, it promised a “concerted francophone position” for upcoming climate change conferences in Poznan in December and Copenhagen in 2009.
Canada and its province Quebec had clashed over this proposal, with France and Quebec calling for action on climate change, while Canada preferred a broader focus on the environment, according to sources.