RobinAge takes a look at the 35th G8 summit that took place in L'Aquila, Abruzzo, 100kms east of Rome in Italy between July 8 and 10 of 2009.
WHAT IS THE G8?
G8 is the short form of 'Group of Eight'. It consists of France, United States, United Kingdom, Russia (as of 2006), Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada. In addition, the European Union is represented within the G8, but cannot host or chair.
Since 1975, the heads of state or government of these major industrial democracies have been meeting annually to deal with the major economic and political issues facing their domestic societies and the international community as a whole.
G8 ministers also meet throughout the year in various groups including the G7 (without Russia), G8 finance ministers (who meet four times a year), G8 foreign ministers and G8 environment ministers.
Each year, the responsibility of hosting the G8 rotates through the member states in the following order: France, United States, United Kingdom, Russia, Germany, Japan, Italy and Canada.
A number of national leaders from other countries are traditionally invited to attend the summit and to participate in some, but not all, G8 summit activities.
WHAT IS THE G8+5?
When the five developing countries, namely Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa, referred to as the G5, the Outreach Five (O5) or the Plus Five, participate as guests in meetings, it is sometimes called the G8+5.
WHAT DOES THE G8 DO?
The G8 is intended to be an informal forum. The presidency of the group rotates annually among the member countries, with each new term beginning on January 1 of the year. The country holding the presidency is responsible for planning and hosting a series of ministerial-level meetings, leading up to a mid-year summit attended by the heads of government.
The ministerial meetings bring together ministers responsible for various portfolios to discuss issues of mutual or global concern. The range of topics includes health, law enforcement, labour, economic and social development, energy, environment, foreign affairs, justice and interior affairs, terrorism and trade.
Japan held the G8 presidency in 2008, Italy is the 2009 president and Canada will be president in 2010. The summit has also become a prime occasion for nongovernmental and civil society organisations to advocate on behalf of their concerns. The summit ended with the leaders welcoming the offer of Canada to host the next Summit at Muskoka in Canada in 2010.