Biggest G20 issue? Depends on who you ask

A reporter makes his way into the international media centre at Exhibition Place in Toronto on Wednesday. (Lianne Elliott/CBC)

By Lianne Elliott, CBC News

lianne-elliott-52.jpgMaternal health, maternal health, maternal health. That's all we've been hearing about in Canada for the last few months. If there's one big issue at the G8/G20 summits, it must be maternal health.

Or so we Canadians would think.

I've spent the last two days milling around the international media centre, asking journalists from around the world what they think the big G8/G20 issue is.

None of them mentioned maternal health. Not one. In fact, each had a unique view of what these summits are all about, depending on where they were from.

Here's a look at some of their thoughts:

Reporter Serena Dironza
Country: Italy
Biggest G8/G20 issue: Deficit

"For Italy, the biggest issue is our deficit," says Dironza, a reporter with ANSA News. "We are growing slowly but we have a big deficit."

She says Italians are watching the summit closely to see if a compromise can be met to consolidate debt and deficit and reduce the load countries like Italy are carrying. She admits that Italians aren't really looking to Canada for solutions to this problem, but are hoping for deals with heavy-hitters like the European Union and the United States. 

Reporter Mac Neil Kalowekamo
Country: Malawi
Biggest G8/G20 issue: Food safety

Kalowekamo, who reports for the Malawi News Agency, says Malawi's No. 1 concern is food. Malawi, a country with no mineral wealth, has an economy based completely on agriculture.

Kalowekamo says Malawi has had success offering farmers, especially small farmers, a subsidy, so that they produce more. Kalowekamo hopes the G8/G20 will follow his country's lead and make use of similar subsidies more broadly.

"We have had success," he said. "We now want Malawi to be a role model."

Producer Ayumi Hattori
Country: Japan
Biggest G8/G20 issue: Diplomacy

Japan just elected a new prime minister, Naoto Kan, on June 4, and the country is eager to see how he will perform on the world stage, says Hattori, who works for TV Asahi.

They are also curious to see how his important bilateral meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama will play out.

"This is a debut for our prime minister," Asahi says. "We want him to have a nice debut as head of state and build up trust with the president."

Reporter Ashwini Prabha
Country: Fiji
Biggest G8/G20 issue: Climate change

Fiji does not have a place at the table during the G8/G20 summits, but Prabha says the country is still very concerned about the issues that are discussed at the meetings, particularly when it comes to climate change.

Fiji's neighbours, Australia and New Zealand, do not have a great track record when it comes to their environmental records, Prabha says, and she says Fiji wants to see a firm commitment from the G8/G20 leaders about reducing emissions. The Fiji islands' agriculture, food and climate depend on it.

"My islands can't do it on their own unless the big countries get serious," says Prabha, who works for the Pacific Islands News.

Reporter Orhan Sali
Country: Turkey
Biggest G8/G20 issue: Iran and Gaza

Sali says his country's biggest priority is to end sanctions against Iran and Gaza.

The country's prime minister, Tayyip Erdogan, voted against UN sanctions against Iran, and that has caused tension between the U.S. and Turkey, says Sali, who reports for IHA News.

"The prime minister wants to repair relations between the U.S. and turkey," he says.

Columnist Xing Li
Country: China
Biggest G8/G20 issue: Economy

So many uncertainties swirl as the world copes with the global economic crisis, says Li, who works for China Daily.

China, as the world's largest exporter, is concerned about issues of the global imbalance between exporters and importers, and wants to address protectionist policies, which it feels are harmful.

"China really wants the G20 to move things forward," says Li.

Reporter David Turnbull
Country: United States
Biggest G8.G20 issue: Fuel subsidies

Turnbull, who works for the environmental magazine Grist, says Americans are deeply affected by the oil spill in the gulf.

He said while he can't speak for everyone, he's hoping to see the G8/G20 summits show leadership on the issue and eliminate fossil fuel subsidies that currently exist. He wants to see that money directed elsewhere, towards more environmentally friendly energy sources.

"I'm concerned that the prime minister of Canada does not seem to want to have a focus on the environment at all at these meetings," he says.