Imagine making a decision that would affect hundreds of thousands, if not millions of people. Pretty nerve-wracking, right? You’d want to make sure you heard from the people whose lives that decision would impact, and you’d want to make sure to pay particular attention to voices that had historically been ignored. That is the predicament that the G7 leaders will find themselves in a matter of days.
That’s because the G7 Summit is fast approaching. Taking place in Germany from June 26-28, the Heads of States of seven of the largest and most powerful economies in the world (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the United States) will meet and make decisions that could affect us all.
While the G7 countries represent only 10% of the global population, they have an enormous amount of power to shape the priorities of the global economy.
These political heavyweights’ decisions have the ability to affect everything from the fight against global poverty and hunger, to investment in climate action, among other things. We need them to take urgent action now.
It might seem like a common refrain by now: “This is a critical moment.” But it really is. A disastrous convergence of conflict and climate change is creating millions of climate refugees and that number could soar to 1.2 billion by 2050. Russia’s war in Ukraine is fueling a global food crisis, which is in turn sparking protests worldwide. The COVID-19 pandemic still isn’t over and it has already reversed years of progress toward achieving gender equality, impacted health systems globally, and exacerbated cost of living crises. Global freedoms are being eroded. All of these crises are pushing more and more people into extreme poverty.
Tackling them all seems like a tall order. But it can be done. Activists, advocates, campaigners, and citizens from all corners of the globe are taking to the streets, tweeting, sending emails, and signing petitions to demand that the G7 turn their promises into action NOW.
And you can too. Here are our six main asks for G7 leaders, and how you can help take action:
1. Mobilize Funds to End Extreme Poverty
It’s been our siren call since day one: end extreme poverty. But unfortunately a lot of the progress that had been made was reversed by the COVID-19 pandemic. Close to 100 million people were pushed into poverty, meaning they are living on less than US$2 a day, because of the pandemic.
Meanwhile, the rich got richer. You heard that right. The global financial inequality gap widened with the wealthy becoming wealthier, and those living in poverty (or close to the poverty line) getting even poorer.
For decades, G7 leaders have promised to allocate at least 0.7% of their respective countries’ gross national income (GNI) to international aid to support the most marginalized people in the world.
But in 2021, G7 countries didn’t even reach half of that, and collectively only provided 0.32%.
So here is a simple, concrete, and tangible measure that the G7 leaders can take now: each and every one of them can restore international aid to 0.7%.
This also means that the much needed support for Ukraine and its neighboring countries following Putin’s invasion of the country needs to be additional, and not come at the expense of standing commitments. So far, some countries (including the UK) have taken aid that was destined for Yemen and other existing emergencies to help Ukraine. Diverting aid from one crisis to give to another isn't ok. World leaders must provide additional humanitarian support.
Add your name alongside Shawn Mendes, Duran Duran, Billie Eilish, Bill Nye, and more, to Global Citizen's open letter to end extreme poverty NOW.
2. Tackle the Hunger Crisis and Create Food and Nutrition Security Worldwide
To make matters worse, the war in Ukraine has completely knocked the global food system off its axis, creating a humanitarian crisis that threatens to impact millions more across the globe.
So this is what we’re asking: the G7 must urgently support people facing hunger by supporting life-saving, emergency response food aid; opening up food stocks to stabilize supplies; and supporting smallholder farmers for the next planting season.
Take action now by signing our open letter urging the G7 to avert a cataclysmic global food crisis.
3. Stop the Climate Crisis
The people who have contributed the least to climate change are the ones facing its harshest consequences — and those people are the poorest, most vulnerable communities around the world. Now if that doesn’t scream unfair, we don’t know what does.
Increasing temperatures, a surge in natural disasters, locust invasions, floods, and drought. It sounds like the stuff of nightmares. But these extreme events are happening right now — and they’re having devastating impacts. Crops are being devastated and smallholder farmers are having their livelihoods ripped away, which in turn, is leading to a refugee crisis that could dwarf all refugee crises we’ve ever seen before.
Wealthier nations — which are also the biggest polluters — have got to step up to support countries in adapting to and planning for climate change, as well as paying for the loss and damage that has already been incurred. Are they doing it? The short answer is: no.
Here’s what we want on the G7 leaders' agenda. Pay up the $100 billion per year that you promised back in 2009, to help poorer countries tackle climate change (which you haven’t delivered on yet). While you’re at it, provide support for the loss and damage that has already been done.
Send an urgent tweet demanding G7 leaders step up and deliver the critically-needed support that the most vulnerable countries need to tackle climate change.
Alongside international efforts, as the world’s biggest polluters, G7 countries must also take urgent action on their own soil. They must shift away from extracting and burning fossil fuels, and instead ramp up renewable energy sources. This isn’t new information, but many leaders of the world's richest countries are still not acting — and if they are, then it’s at a glacial pace.
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. And previous commitments by the G7 for an eventual phase out dismiss the urgency to act. This G7 Summit needs to bring a clear deadline, and this deadline must be no later than 2030.
4. Empower Adolescent Girls and Women and Invest in the Care Economy
Looking after children, domestic work, and unpaid care work are all predominantly done by women around the world — and let’s face it, it’s mostly undervalued and undercompensated.
The COVID-19 pandemic, like with most things, made it worse. Millions of adolescent girls had their lives turned upside down as schooling stopped, workplaces closed, and stay-at-home orders were in place.
This unequal burden of work stops women and girls from pursuing an education, gaining economic independence, and reaching their full potential.
To break the cycle of extreme poverty, women and girls must be empowered. But what does that mean? It’s more than a catchy marketing slogan or vapid promise. It requires targeted investment in the care economy. This will help us on the gender quality front and create millions of jobs. What’s not to like?
Here’s what we want on the G7’s to-do list.
In April 2022, the World Bank announced a new program to scale up quality, affordable childcare in developing countries and will catalyze at least $180 million in new funding in the next five years to support childcare in low- and middle-income countries.
So far, the US, Australia, Canada, and several foundations, are supporting it. We want the rest of the G7 countries to follow suit.
5. End the Pandemic and Strengthen Health Systems
Since the start of the pandemic, leaders of wealthy nations have promised to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines and to strengthen health systems. In practice, however, they have hoarded vaccines, given too much power to the pharmaceutical industry, and failed to adequately fund international distribution. With weakened health systems, immunization campaigns in low-income countries remain a challenge.
G7 countries need to commit to fully fund all pillars of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator (ACT-A) — a tool which unites world leaders, global health actors, and private sector organizations to develop life-saving resources against COVID-19 — and deliver their fair share of vaccines to all people, including those in remote regions and communities.
It’s not just the fight against COVID-19 which needs addressing, G7 countries must take action to step up on HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis, and polio by supporting international organizations dedicated to fighting these diseases.
The G7 must fight the COVID-19 pandemic everywhere and strengthen health systems worldwide — not just in their own countries. Sign our petition now for fair access to vaccines and vaccine production for all countries.
6. Protect Civil Society
The world is becoming a more dangerous place for activists and advocates. In 2021, at least 358 human rights defenders were murdered. They all stood up for a better world and paid the highest price for it.
Meanwhile, under both authoritarian and democratic governments, repressive laws are threatening the power of individuals to speak out and assert their rights to bring about change.
Here is our call to action.
Leaders of the world’s most influential democracies must show their full support for free and open civic spaces at home and around the world. The G7 should establish 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.
Join us in this call to G7 leaders and tweet here.
History has shown us the power of individuals speaking out to bring about change. Every voice counts, every message, every name, and every action. The more there are of us, the louder our call. Join a community of millions of Global Citizens and use your power today. If you’re a real keen bean, you can head to our G7 Summit page and see how many actions you can take.
You can also head over to the Global Citizen app and take our G7 Summit 101 Challenge, to learn more about the G7 and what they can do to tackle the world’s biggest challenges, and urge them to take action to end extreme poverty and its systemic causes NOW.