For many years now, evidence of serious ecological risk has mounted. Global warming is real. Forests are vanishing. A freshwater crisis looms. Our marine fisheries are increasingly depleted. And species are disappearing at a record rate.
Yet governments have failed to muster a remotely adequate response, relying on large, slow-moving, UN-sponsored conventions that do too little too late. In a column published in The American Interest earlier this year by William Atholis of the Brookings Institution and myself, we proposed the creation of an E8—a compact forum of leaders from developed and developing countries who can cut through the bureaucratic clutter and give ecological crises the top-level attention they deserve.
Much like the Group of Seven as originally conceived, the E8 would bring together a small group of leaders from the United States, the European Union, Japan, Russia, China, India, Brazil and South Africa with the aim of short-circuiting bureaucratic logjams and producing concrete results. An E8 would propel leaders to get personally involved in creating an ecological board of directors that would operate outside the bureaucracy and politics of large UN conventions.
The E8 would be able to shine a public spotlight on core ecological issues, serve as a focal point for the mobilization of civil society; and facilitate a more integrated treatment of global environmental issues, both within and among governments. This is a proposal the leaders of the Group of Eight should consider when they meet in Germany later this week for their annual summit.
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