This Year’s G7 - A Bad Remake Or A Chef D’oeuvre?
Jun 22, 2022
Jun 22, 2022,
Got it! BERLIN, GERMANY - JUNE 15: German Chancellor Olaf Scholz speaks at the presentation of the new ... [+] German postage stamp featuring the upcoming G7 summit on June 15, 2022 in Berlin, Germany. The G7 summit is scheduled to take place at Schloss Elmau in Bavaria from June 26-28. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
Next weekend, the G7 will meet in Schloss Elmau - a déjà vu from 2015 when they already met there under German leadership. However, the world has changed significantly in the last seven years. Climate change is no longer a future threat but one that is here, including in Germany where floods caused 180 deaths and billions of damage last year. The world has faced a global pandemic which is not yet behind us, with interest rates and inflation increasing in many G7 countries and elsewhere. Last but not least, Russia invaded Ukraine. Even though in 2015 the G8 had already transformed into the G7, excluding Russia, such an aggression wasn’t one many imagined occurring. Arguably, this could be the moment in history when the G7 sheds its old legacies and dispels doubts about its value in comparison to the G20 which is held in greater regard as the true center of power. As the war in Ukraine risks paralyzing the G20, the G7 may actually have gained importance compared to 2015. Additionally, Germany now has a new leader, Chancellor Olaf Scholz, and none of the G7 leaders face an election in the short term. At least for now, the West seems more united than it did just a few years ago. But in the end, the outcomes of the summit will determine whether Schloss Elmau Mark 2 is not just a bad remake of 2015 but a real leadership moment showing the way in a world of crisis. Here are three acts of leadership the G7 could lead on and make a real difference with. The power is in their hands, no one’s elses. 20 June 2022, Bavaria, Garmisch-Partenkirchen: TV station microphones stand in front of a G7 summit ... [+] logo wall during a press statement. The G7 summit is scheduled for June 26-28, 2022, at Schloss Elmau. Photo: Angelika Warmuth/dpa (Photo by Angelika Warmuth/picture alliance via Getty Images)
dpa/picture alliance via Getty Images
The fallout from COVID on global hunger was drastic, increasing the number of people who were severely food insecure from 135 million to 276 million. And now the invasion of Ukraine and its global ramifications is sending food and fertilizer prices soaring, expecting to increase this number of people experiencing hunger to 323 million, in 2022 alone. As many as 200 million people could be pushed into extreme poverty as a result. Rightly so, the G7 has discussed the food situation globally several times and made important commitments to keep food markets open. Yet, the scale of current restrictions has now eclipsed that seen during the 2007/08 food price crisis, which contributed 40% of the increase in agricultural prices. Past German leadership guided significant discussions in 2015, with the G7 promising to help 500 million people fight hunger albeit the delivery on this promise was found wanting. This time, such an empty promise won’t suffice. MORE FOR YOU
There is a saying in German that says: if you don’t know what to do, create a commission. The German presidency is behind the creation of a new Global Alliance on Food Security. The world doesn’t need another commission to hide inaction, but a real added value in organizing the response, short and long term. It needs to complement existing initiatives and institutions such FARM, an initiative launched earlier by France and others, the World Food Programme or the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). Critically, so far, no funding has been promised as part of the G7 process to help those already at risk of starvation or in food insecurity. Emergency needs are estimated to be more than $20 billion, while we also need to invest in short and long term support, particularly for small scale producers and smallholder farmers. Investments in initiatives such as IFAD's Crisis Response could give communities continued access to key inputs like seed and fertilizer, allowing farmers to continue growing food and supporting production infrastructure, as well as providing critical market information. The G7 are the club of the most important donors. If they don’t step up, no one will, and they will have lost all moral high ground. Climate change
The German Chancellor put a lot of energy behind the so-called “climate club”, which he wanted to create to make progress on climate with a group of vanguard countries, both G7 and others. However the real risk today is that the club remains hot air and that the G7 doesn’t even manage to make progress on its own. Several actions could restore the G7 credibility on climate and lay the ground for more success later in the year, at the G20 and at the COP in Egypt. Firstly, we must show decisive action on mitigation: while the G7 wants to end fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, there is no plan to get there. Same on the need to produce a timeline on how they will end the use of fossil fuels in their entirety. This is where the G7 should show that they are willing to take tough decisions such as ending the use of coal by 2030 and deliver plans to do so, not just communiqué language. Secondly, the G7 should urgently outline support for those most impacted by climate change and yet who are least responsible for it: the wealthy countries did promise back in 2009 that they would mobilize $100B per year from 2020 to help those at the frontlines of climate change. They had the time to prepare for this and still, by 2022, they remain $10B-15B short.This is while these big emitters spend more on fossil fuel subsidies than on international climate finance - the US for instance 60 times more ($11BN for international climate finance versus $660BN on fossil fuel subsidies). .If there was real political will, the G7 could easily bridge this gap and finally make good on their promise. As the G7 recognizes the need to address loss and damage, they should walk the talk as Scotland did last year, and promise funding to that end. Official Development Assistance
Back in 2015, the German presidency negotiated the first ever mention of the historic 0.7% ODA/ GNI target in the main declaration. May sound wonky, but this was real progress as the US for instance had never committed to the goal and many donor countries were facing the Syrian refugee crisis and thinking about cutting their ODA to the poorest countries to finance the expenses related to refugees on their ground. As commendable the line in the communiqué was, it didn’t help and many donors cut their real aid that year. This time needs to be different and the G7 much more explicit: as the major donors, they need to commit to ensure that they want to use the Ukraine invasion and the refugee crisis resulting from it as an excuse to cut funding to the poorest countries. The EU has laid the ground, allowing its member states to use cohesion funds rather than the ODA budget line to help refugees on their soil. The UK however has already announced cuts. But reason more for Germany and its EU allies to make this a priority. The G7 could certainly do even more - but this would be a good action plan to start from. These gestures would send a message and perhaps go some way to repairing trust that was broken and to setting the ground for multilateral action later this year.