G8 Summit 2008There’s only six weeks to go to this year’s G8 Summit in Hokkaido Toyako, Japan.

Most of us won’t be invited. And many of us will feel powerless to set agendas and influence what goes on behind closed doors. But people power and activism can make a real difference.

Since the End Water Poverty campaign launched last year, we have been lobbying G8 leaders to put water and sanitation on the summit agenda. Last year, despite thousands of messages to the German Chancellor Angela Merkel and concerted lobbying of the then UK Prime Minister, Tony Blair, water and sanitation did not make it onto the agenda. BUT . . .

never giving up hope, campaigning continues, with the result that this year Japan has agreed to ensure that water and sanitation will be discussed as part of the G8 Summit.

Back in February, Japan’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Masahiko Koumura, delivered a speech committing his Government to putting sanitation and water firmly on the G8 agenda, stating clearly that, “Japan, as chair [of] the G8 Hokkaido Toyako Summit, will play a leading role in the international community’s discussions concerning water and sanitation.”

Mr Koumura went on to observe that, “Water and sanitation are closely related to other issues, such as poverty, health, education, and gender, on which progress is needed in order to achieve sustainable development . . . The resolution of issues relating to water and sanitation will significantly contribute to the achievement of other Millennium Development Goals as well.”

Being on the agenda is one thing. Getting commitment from the G8 to actually do something is quite another. Therefore, End Water Poverty are trying to raise 1 million signatures ahead of the G8 to demonstrate popular feeling regarding this key development issue, and so put pressure on our political representatives to take positive action and not just talk shop.

If you’ve not signed, then please take a moment and do so, because the simple act of sharing your name could change the lives of 2 billion people worldwide.