We’ll be frank: The outcome of the G7 Summit this week was disappointing. 

Our hopes were high for this one. We, alongside other activists, campaigners, and Global Citizens from around the world, have been invested in and working towards this meeting of the G7 leaders for months. The Group of 7 may represent just 10% of the world’s population, but the power that this small group has to make meaningful and urgent change affects everyone, everywhere. 

We showed up from the beginning and you joined us in your thousands, sending tweets, signing petitions, sending emails, recording videos, and more, to make sure that the world’s most significant issues would be at the top of the agenda at the summit, and that they would be handled with the urgency and care they deserve. These issues included climate change, the growing global hunger crisis, official development assistance to help alleviate the impacts of poverty in low-income countries, and tackling global gender inequality. 

The ball was now in their court. This was it. 

They stepped up to the court in the Bavarian Alps; they promised a good game, and we watched patiently. They picked up the ball, and we got excited, expecting the game would go the right way. They took the shot, and we collectively held our breath… then they missed. 

That’s right, the G7 missed their shot at being able to use their collective power at this summit to make a meaningful difference when it matters most. One of the most important political events this year struggled to make new movements to end extreme poverty and tackle the world's most urgent issues. 

It was like waiting for our favorite artist to drop the new album we’ve been waiting on for years, and instead watching them re-release a collection of their old hits. A great deal of the discussion around climate action, for example, was like watching last year’s UN Climate Conference COP26 on re-run, rather than showcasing the new, widespread, and meaningful action we need to tackle the climate crisis. 

Let’s review the summit shall we? Here’s a play-by-play of what we called for from G7 leaders, what they actually delivered, and what happens next. 

Mobilize Funds to End Extreme Poverty

What we called for

It’s not news that we’re calling for the end of extreme poverty now, and this was one of our biggest calls at this year’s summit — particularly as the G7 leaders have continued to make the same promise over and over again, despite making little to no movement to actually keep it. 

We called for them to step up on this now decades-old commitment to allocate at least 0.7% of their respective countries’ gross national income (GNI) for development cooperation and humanitarian aid to support the world’s most vulnerable. 

We also called on leaders to ensure that aid funding — for example, to support refugees globally — isn’t taken from one crisis and simply handed to another. For example, in the way that the UK diverted aid funding from Yemen and other existing emergencies to support Ukraine

What actually happened

Nothing. We’re not joking, nothing was said about the G7’s existing 0.7% GNI pledge at this year’s summit. Meanwhile the fulfillment of that pledge is sitting dismally at an average of 0.32% for G7 countries, and the world’s richest world leaders still have a long way to go to achieve a goal they made decades ago. 

This year’s host, Germany, is a huge champion for development cooperation, even exceeding the target of 0.7%. Because of this, we clearly expected a lot more on this issue at the summit, and hoped that the German government would set an example and call on the other G7 countries to step up. This did not happen, and was a sorely wasted opportunity for Chancellor Olaf Scholz.

What did happen, however, was the G7 reaffirming their commitment to achieving the Global Goals in an effort to continue the work to end extreme poverty — although, even this didn’t include what a funding plan could look like to achieve that aim. 

They did adopt a plan to invest in infrastructure in poorer countries and promised a whopping $600 billion by 2027 — while this looks impressive at first glance, it’s not at all, as this funding was either already announced last year ($300 billion from the European Union), or isn’t yet secured ($200 billion from the US), and includes private financing. How much of this will really benefit the poorest is also currently unclear. 

It was overall a disappointing outcome with a complete disregard for the worsening levels of poverty the world is being faced with, despite the fact that the G7 has a great deal of power to change the situation. 

2. Tackle the Hunger Crisis and Ensure Food & Nutrition Security Worldwide

What we called for

The global food crisis was already in a dire situation (with up to 811 million people going to bed hungry every single night) and this year we’ve seen it worsen at a rapid rate, largely due to the ongoing war in Ukraine, along with the impacts of climate change. In fact, by the end of this year, it’s predicted that more than 320 million more people could face acute hunger— that’s about the size of the population of the US. 

We called on the G7 to immediately halt the looming food crisis and to ensure good food for all by supporting life-saving, emergency response food aid; opening up food stocks to stabilize supplies; and supporting smallholder farmers for the next planting season, calling for several billions of dollars to support this. 

What actually happened

Food security and nutrition was a major topic at this year’s summit. The Leaders' Summit was preceded by a Ministerial Conference on “Uniting for Global Food Security,” which set high expectations for the summit to come — although the summit didn’t ultimately deliver on those high expectations. The G7 leaders took the need to end the global food crisis seriously, pledging new funds to combat it and committing to keep markets open, and recognized the importance of ensuring long term resilience and sustainability of agriculture and food systems .  

They stepped up with an additional $4.5 billion for global food security. While this was a step in the direction, outside of a breakdown of the US contribution, the G7’s statement lacked details on the remainder of the resources, whether they were indeed additional, and was lackluster in providing a roadmap to actualizing the several other billions required to effectively tackle the food crisis, build resilience, and protect smallholder farmers. We also need decisive action on climate as both crises are closely interlinked. 

3. Stop the Climate Crisis

What we called for

We’re almost tired of saying it, but it always needs to be said that the low-income nations that contribute the least to the climate crisis are already experiencing the worst of it. It only makes sense that the wealthy countries step up and take responsibility for the crisis they’ve had the biggest hand in causing. 

We called on the G7 to mobilize the $100 billion per year that they promised back in 2009 to deliver by 2020 (and have yet to make good on) to help poorer countries tackle climate change. There is still a shortfall of $10-$15 billion per year.

We also called for the biggest contributors to the climate crisis to step up and provide support for the loss and damage that has already been done, as well as taking urgent action to shift away from fossil fuels and instead ramp up renewable energy. 

More than 40 countries agreed to phase out their use of coal-fired power, the dirtiest fuel source, at the UN Climate Change Conference COP26, in November last year. But some, including the UK, are heading in the wrong direction, with a real concern that this summit would see a rollback of that previous agreement. We called for the G7 this year to maintain that commitment to phase out coal, and also set a firm deadline for that — no later than 2030. 

What actually happened

This summit would have been an opportune moment for the G7 to set essential measures to define how they plan to work towards achieving a carbon-neutral future. This is also what they promised, a “crucial boost for international climate action."

Instead, much energy was spent discussing commitments already made and avoiding a potential rollback. In the end, the G7 did commit to end financing for fossil fuels abroad this year in line with last year’s COP, but they also reiterated that they might make use of exemptions, especially to invest in gas, as a “temporary” measure. 

This neither makes economic sense nor helps the fight against climate change and sends mixed signals to the rest of the world where we would have expected clear, unambiguous leadership. 

They didn't set a deadline on coal nor make any progress in terms of meeting their $100 billion commitment, despite vaguely promising to meet it next year, which would be three years late. The G7 for the first time ever recognized that support is needed for already existing loss and damage, but again didn’t make any commitments. But the poorest people already suffering from climate change cannot put the crisis on halt and another year of waiting is simply not acceptable. 

While climate-neutrality was a buzz word used several times at this year’s summit, no actionable steps have been put in place to make this a reality. 

4. Empower Adolescent Girls & Women and Invest in the Care Economy

What we called for 

We cannot end extreme poverty for everyone, everywhere, if we don’t empower women and girls. Gender inequality continues to worsen the impacts of poverty, while empowering women and girls would actively help combat not just poverty alone, but many of its systemic causes. That’s why we called on G7 leaders to prioritize the empowerment of women and girls around the world, and provide necessary funding and investment, especially towards upgrading the care economy, and investing in the World Bank's Childcare Incentive Fund. 

What actually happened

Although gender equality is currently under threat around the world, particularly with the announcement to reverse Roe v. Wade in the US being made right before the start of the summit, gender equality didn’t receive anywhere near enough attention. 

There were some bits of positive discussion however, for example on the issue of unpaid care work, as its importance was clearly recognized in the G7’s final communiqué. The G7 also announced an investment of US$79 million in the World Bank’s Childcare Incentive Fund — this number, however, was already known before the summit, and our hopes for additional pledges at the summit didn’t materialize. 

Also, for the first time ever G7 states affirmed their support for improving women’s, children’s, and adolescents’ health by contributing the Global Financing Facility for Women, Children, and Adolescents (GFF). They also committed to increase Official Development Assistance (ODA) for gender equality, but without a clear target or timeline. These are slow steps that, although in the right direction, do not do justice to the importance of achieving gender equality. 

5. End the Pandemic and Strengthen Health Systems

What we called for

The fight against the COVID-19 pandemic has been an unfair one from the beginning, one that has left low-income countries behind, while wealthy nations can recover and move on as if the pandemic has come to an end. Newsflash: the pandemic is still very real. 

Since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been calling for equitable access to vaccines, treatments, and tools to tackle COVID-19. We have also raised our voices in the call for strengthening global health systems and making systemic shifts, such as on intellectual property, in the face of future pandemics and health threats. 

That's why we have called for the G7 countries to commit to fully fund all pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A). We also called on them to step up the fight against HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and polio by supporting international organizations dedicated to fighting these diseases, particularly as the pandemic has reversed some of the astounding gains already made against them. 

What actually happened

In their final declaration, the G7 countries reaffirmed their support for international organizations such as the Global Fund to Fight HIV/AIDS, Malaria, and Tuberculosis, and the Global Polio Eradication Initiative. As those institutions will seek funding later this year, at what’s known as replenishment conferences, we will hold the G7 to account for this pledge of support. 

Financial pledges to respond to the ongoing global pandemic were not made and the ACT-Accelerator continues to face a US$13 billion funding gap. Nor did the G7 commit to any more structural changes that could help prevent, or at least better prepare for, another pandemic. In contrast to last year’s summit where COVID-19 and global health systems took center stage, this year those topics were mostly sidelined — making it seem as though the leaders’ collective memory is concerningly short. 

6. Protect Civil Society

What we called for

Activism and advocacy is becoming a more dangerous space, despite the fact that we need civil society in order to make active movements towards ending extreme poverty once and for all. 

That’s why we called on the G7 leaders to support open civic spaces in their home countries and around the world. We also called on them to create a Civic Space Task Force — a global initiative of G7 governments, civil society groups, businesses, and banks to increase engagement with and support for civil society organizations, particularly those under threat from authoritarian regimes and conflict.

What actually happened

The good news is that there was recognition for the need to protect civil society, with a great deal of conversation surrounding the topic. 

In their final declaration, the G7 acknowledged their responsibility to defend democratic and liberal values. This is a good step. Now what needs to happen is for the group to roll with this, and set concrete commitments. The establishment of a Civic Space Task Force was not discussed, however, the fact that there was more discussion this year on the protection of civil liberties has us somewhat hopeful that it will be in the future. 

So What Do We Do Now? 

The work is far from over, and we’re continuing our call on world leaders, business leaders, philanthropists, and all global decision-makers, to take action to tackle the world’s most pressing issues. This year, we’re asking them particularly to take action on these critical areas: empowering adolescent girls; breaking the systemic barriers that keep people in poverty; taking climate action; and defending the world’s advocates and activists. 

We still have many key policy-making moments yet to come this year, with the African Union Summit in July, the G20 Summit in Bali in October, the UN Climate Change Conference COP27, in November, and more. Meanwhile, the German G7 presidency is not over yet but will last until the end of the year, so there is still time for them to make good on these disappointing results, and show the world they mean business in the fight against extreme poverty, climate change, and inequalities. And you know we’ll seize every opportunity to represent your voices, and work to achieve the changes you want to see in the world. 

So keep taking action with us to end poverty, to demand equity, and to defend the planet — because together our voices are powerful and we will achieve our mission. 


Demand Equity

G7 Summit: What Every Global Citizen Should Know About How Little the G7 Just Delivered

By Khanyi Mlaba  and  Nora Holz