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G7 leaders stand together at this year's summit in Cornwall. G7 leaders stand together at this year's summit in Cornwall. G7 leaders stand together at this year's summit in Cornwall.

The G7: How did it measure up?

The G7: How did it measure up?
Story17 June 2021Rachel Hickman

Last weekend the UK hosted the G7. World leaders congregated in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, to discuss critical global challenges, ranging from climate change to vaccines to economic recovery. But how did the G7 measure up to our hopes and expectations?

The big build up

This year, the G7 had more attention than most - and for good reason.

We saw thousands join the #WaveOfHope campaign, demanding that this G7 addresses the biggest crises of today: Covid-19, inequality, climate change and nature loss. The Crack the Crises Coalition delivered this message to MPs, the PM and G7 country embassies. 

Concern was also busy in the run up to the G7. We attended the civil society summit (the C7) and helped shape the C7 recommendations on both global food security and nutrition, and climate change. Our aim was to ensure the G7 addressed the most pressing needs of the vulnerable people we work with in the world’s poorest places.

These recommendations were formally issued to G7 leaders, after which we met with UK civil servants working on the G7 to discuss how they could be put into practice.

After much anticipation, how did the G7 deliver on our asks?

Key announcements during this year’s G7 included:

  • A global health declaration to prevent future pandemics, including a new centre to develop future vaccines.
  • 1 billion  vaccines against the coronavirus to be donated to the developing world
  • A £500 million Blue Planet Fund to protect marine environments
  • A commitment to get 40 million girls into education by 2026


But while this is progress, the G7 fell short of expectations - particularly on vaccines, where it is estimated that 10 billion vaccines will be needed globally to get the pandemic under control.

Here we look in more detail at how the G7 performed against our C7 recommendations on food security and nutrition and building resilience to climate change.

WaveofHope posters line Concern's bookshop window in Holywood, decorated by local primary school pupils. I
#WaveofHope posters line Concern's bookshop window in Holywood, decorated by local primary school pupils. Image: Concern

1. Food security and nutrition

Growing food insecurity and malnutrition is a critical issue right now. Over 34 million people currently face emergency levels of food insecurity, the last warning before famine. Without serious international action, we could see catastrophic loss of life. But we must also tackle the long-term issue of malnutrition, which persists at unacceptably high levels. 149 million children were stunted last year, leaving a lasting impact on their health and futures.

What we asked for:

  • Lead global efforts to prevent food and nutrition crises, including committing at least $5 billion this year to stop millions from dying of starvation.

What was delivered:

  • G7 countries agreed a famine compact with $8.5 billion allocated for famine prevention, BUT this does not seem to be new money and there is no clarity on who is spending this money or how. This means it is likely to be existing funding that is being ‘re-badged’ as famine prevention, or worse still, money repurposed at the expense of other important causes. The compact is a welcome first step, but we now need to see words turned into action. We will continue to push for a fully transparent and accountable implementation plan for famine prevention.

What we asked for:

  • Help shift the humanitarian system towards greater preparedness and anticipatory action to avoid future crises.

What was delivered:

  • The famine compact included a focus on greater anticipatory action, acknowledging that we cannot wait for famine to be declared before we act. However, again, this was not backed by a clear plan to resource this.

What we asked for:

  • Commit to preventing and treating undernutrition, diet-related chronic disease and nutrient deficiencies, and prioritising access to nutritious food. We asked each G7 country to commit to make an ambitious financial commitment at the Nutrition for Growth Summit in 2021.

What was delivered:

  • The G7 Leader’s Communique recognised the impact of the pandemic on increasing levels of malnutrition and encouraged all G7 donors to make strong commitments at the Food Systems Summit and the Nutrition for Growth Summit, which will take place in Tokyo in December. But there was a missed opportunity not to make a specific commitment to nutrition at the G7. Efforts in famine prevention will be undermined if wider malnutrition isn’t tackled.

2. Building resilience to climate change

Climate impacts are rising rapidly. Climate change is a key driver of the rising levels of global hunger and is undermining efforts to address extreme poverty. Climate change affects everyone, but it’s the poorest and most vulnerable countries that are affected most severely; devastatingly, it is the people that have contributed least to climate change who are currently paying the price. By 2050, an additional 200 million people each year might need humanitarian aid due to climate change - an increase of 85 per cent compared with 2019.

What we asked for:

  • Significantly increase commitments to climate finance, including achieving the 50% target for climate change adaptation.

What was delivered:

  • The G7 communique itself was disappointing – reaffirming a now decade-old commitment to "jointly mobilise $100 billion per year from public and private sources, through to 2025".  Climate change adaptation received little attention, with no steps announced to address the fact that funding for adaptation continues to lag behind that for mitigation, despite a long-term commitment from high-income countries to achieve a balance between the two.
  • But, after the summit concluded, Canada announced that it would double its climate finance pledge to C$5.3 billion ($4.4 billion) over the next five years and Germany would increase its by 2 billion to 6 billion euros ($7.26 billion) a year by 2025. Japan also committed to maintain its Y1.3trillion through to 2025, including enhancing adaptation. There’s still some way to go to bridge the gap between what low-income countries need to adapt to the impacts of climate change, and what has been committed. But these announcements do show steps in the right direction.

What we asked for:

  • Prioritise the countries and communities most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.

What was delivered:

  • The communique included few specifics on how the G7 would prioritise those most vulnerable. The proof of this will be in the implementation – where and how the new climate finance commitments are delivered. We will need to keep pushing to make sure that funding better reaches the countries and communities most vulnerable to climate impacts and that the adaptation funding gap is addressed.
Crack the Crises campaigners ‘hand-in’ the #WaveOfHope
Crack the Crises campaigners ‘hand-in’ the #WaveOfHope to the UK government and G7 country embassies ahead of the G7 summit. Image: Anna Gordon / Save the Children

Looking ahead

We welcome the G7 announcements on famine prevention and climate change adaptation, which are two critical issues facing people living in extreme poverty. However, too often these announcements were lacking in detail, transparency, and concrete commitments, which are important so that governments can be held to account.

In the UK, these important initiatives are also undermined by cuts to the UK aid budget. At Concern, we have already seen two of our programmes on health provision and building resilience to climate change forced to close at extremely short notice due to the cuts. These will have devastating consequences for some of the poorest communities, which bear a disproportionate burden of ill-health, vulnerability, and threat from climate shocks.

In response to the G7, Executive Director of Concern Worldwide UK, Danny Harvey, said:

Danny Harvey, Concern Worldwide (UK) Executive Director.
“Building back better will be impossible unless accompanied by the necessary investments, and placing the needs of the poorest and those most vulnerable to these crises at the heart of all efforts. The G7 has the power to change the world, but only if these world leaders lead by example, starting with a reversal of catastrophic UK aid cuts that are derailing these efforts on the ground."
Danny Harvey - Executive Director, Concern Worldwide (UK)

We will continue to push for a reversal of the aid cuts and for the G7 pledges to result in meaningful action for those living in extreme poverty.

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