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WHY LIVE8? : The G8 Explained

The G8 Explained

The organisers of Live 8 are staging this global event to coincide with the G8 summit of world leaders being held in Scotland. Here Radio 1's Newsbeat profiles the G8.

What is the G8?

G8 stands for Group of Eight. It doesn't have a headquarters, a budget or regular staff but it's one of the most influential groups in the world.

The idea is that the eight most powerful countries get together every year and try to find solutions to world problems, like Aids, poverty, the environment, peace in the Middle East, rebuilding Iraq etcetera.

They set objectives although no-one actually has to meet them, it's purely voluntary and there are no punishments if you fail.

Who are the members?

France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US, the UK, Canada and Russia.

What will they talk about this year?

Britain is hosting the summit and has a big say in what they talk about. The government wants cutting world poverty and improving the environment at the top of the agenda.

Tony Blair will be trying to persuade the Americans to sign up to their plans for dropping African debt and cutting pollution.

America's support is vital to the success of both. And the Prime Minister will be looking for some pay-back after he backed the President over Iraq.

How did it all start?

When it all started in 1975 there were six members and it was all about business.

There'd just been an oil crisis and a recession and they didn't want it to happen again. Now there are eight members and it's as much about politics as the economy.

For and against

Critics say it's all the world's richest countries getting together to help themselves.

They say countries like China and India should be included because they have huge populations and fast-growing economies. They also want Africa and South America to get a look-in.

Members argue that it's an informal way of helping solve some of the world's biggest problems and who better to do that than the world's most powerful countries.

By Richard Westcott - Radio 1 Newsbeat

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