ever before has cooperation between the global North and South, developed and developing countries, been so high on the agendas of the world's leaders. And it has been placed there by a remarkable mass movement, in which young people have played a key part.
It all came to a head in Gleneagles, Scotland, at the end of the first week in July, when the leaders of the world's richest countries for the first time devoted their annual G8 summit to the linked issues of global warming and poverty in Africa. And, in another first, they invited the leaders of key developing countries to join them in their deliberations.
They met with the music of the world's greatest international rock festival still ringing in their ears. The Saturday before, ten Live 8 concerts - spanning the globe... Berlin, Johannesburg, Hyde Park in London, Moscow's Red Square, Paris, the Museum of Art in Philadelphia, the Circus Maximus in Rome and Tokyo - belted out a loud demand for change.
Organized by rock stars Bono and Bob Geldof, the concerts featured a galaxy of famous names - including such legendary artists as Paul McCartney, Sting, Stevie Wonder, Elton John, Stevie and Angelique Kidjo - and brought together such unlikely combinations as Madonna and Nelson Mandela, Bill Gates and Snoop Dogg to demand action on African poverty.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan told the hundreds of millions watching around the world, 'This is really the United Nations... the whole world has come together in solidarity with the poor.' And Bill Gates, one of the world's richest men, added: 'We can do this and, when we do, it will be the best thing that humanity has ever done.'
A few days later the organizers presented the Gleneagles summit with a petition signed by 38 million people. Under the pressure, the G8 leaders - who were focusing on the issues at the insistence of their host, UK Prime Minister Tony Blair - made unprecedented progress, even if it did not go as far as the campaigners had hoped.
G8 leaders agreed to increase their aid to the developing world by $50 billion by 2010, to cancel all the debts of 18 countries - rising to 35 if countries meet conditions laid down by the leaders - and to eliminate subsidies for exports that often undermine the economies of Southern countries. This falls short of what is needed: some 60 countries need debt relief; the UN says that the increase in aid should be twice as big and happen sooner; and no date was set for eliminating the subsidies. But it was still the biggest single move ever made by the leaders of the world's richest nations.
There was much less progress on climate change. But the leaders of the G8 and key developing countries like Brazil, China and India agreed to start talks on combating global warming, offering the first hope that the world might agree on action to be taken when the Kyoto Protocol expires in 2012.
Despite the disappointments, there is now a strong momentum for change for the first time in at least a quarter of a century. Everything will depend on the next few months - and on three momentous meetings.
In September, the leaders of the world's countries will meet in New York to review progress on the Millennium Development Goals - which include an aim to halve dire poverty by 2015. In November, a vital conference in Montreal will begin negotiations on the next stage in tackling global warming. And in December, key talks on world trade will take place in Hong Kong.
These meetings will be crucial tests of the new movement towards North-South cooperation, and the countless millions who supported Live 8 and the associated campaign to 'make poverty history' will be watching closely to see if they produce results.
Above (top): UN's Kofi Annan, heads of the World Bank and IMF join G8 and African leaders; (bottom) Midge Ure, Bono and Bob Geldof at the Edinburgh Live 8. Below: UK's Tony Blair, President of G8, receives thousands of messages from African people.
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