CALGARY -- Canada is committed to preserving and protecting the environment during all phases of the G-8 Summit which is set to open in Kananaskis, Alberta on Thursday and Friday, government environmental officials have pledged. A parallel peoples' forum, the Group of Six Billion, says theirs is the gathering that reflects full respect for the environment and human rights.
The G-8 is an informal group of eight countries -- Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States -- whose leaders meet at the annual G-8 Summit. This year, Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien has invited representatives from Africa, including UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan to attend the summit and participate in the discussions. This year's G-8 Summit will consider its position concerning the World Summit on Sustainable Development set to open in Johannesburg, South Africa on August 26.
"The G-8 Summit Management Office has completed a strategic
environmental assessment, which concludes that the Kananaskis Summit can be undertaken in Kananaskis Country and the city of Calgary "without significant environmental impact.
The Canadian government has developed a Green Meetings program to encourage summit staff and partners to adopt a philosophy of reducing waste, recycling materials, reducing the use of water, fuel and electricity, limiting the consumption of paper, packaging and disposable products; and selecting eco-certified products and asking service and products providers to do likewise.
A follow-up and monitoring program has been established so that any disturbed terrain or accidental impacts are remediated.
Under the Kananaskis Summit Environmental Legacy, the government of Canada will provide $5 million to build a wildlife crossing structure near Canmore, allowing animals to move more freely between habitat in Banff National Park and Kananaskis Country; and to establish a Wildlife Ecology Chair at the University of Calgary to focus research attention on wildlife issues in Kananaskis and on the eastern slopes of the Rocky Mountains.
The G6B - Group of 6 Billion - which seeks to represent the entire global citizenry, has been taking place at the University of Calgary since Friday, offering a forum to generate and discuss alternative ideas and solutions.
An Alberta based nongovernmental organization, the International Society for Peace and Human Rights, has taken the lead in organizing this conference and is now working with a steering committee made up of other national and local organizations including; Amnesty International, Partnership Africa Canada, Rights & Democracy, Canadian Labor Congress, RESULTS, University of Calgary G-8 office, and the Calgary African Community.
The G6B conference will offer a view of the planet's future "which is not rooted in increased militarism and poverty, and decreased human and civil rights," organizers said. Sessions have allowed delegates the opportunity to not only listen but to add their voices to the collective recommendations scheduled to be
presented to the government on Tuesday.
Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Bill Graham will be in Calgary on Tuesday to meet with G6B participants. The Minister will receive and discuss the G6B's conclusions and rommendations to G8 leaders.
The People's Summit will formulate recommendations to G-8 governments in six theme areas: trade and economy, human security, health, education, environment, and democracy and governance.
"I felt that during the session people were working together and reflecting on each other's ideas," said Boris Jacouty, a delegate from Ottawa, who attended the health session Saturday afternoon. "Concrete proposals were discussed regarding global health concerns, and now it is up to the G-8 leaders to listen and respond accordingly."
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