Looking back at past G7 Summit agendas, you’ll see many of the same themes: reducing inequality, promoting women’s equality, and advancing global security.

This year, the to-do list for the leaders of seven of the world’s economic and political heavyweights is long — from taking meaningful action on climate change and tackling the hunger crisis to  unlocking financing to end extreme poverty.

While the Group of 7, known as G7, doesn’t have the same power to enact global policy as organizations like the United Nations, it includes countries that have outsized global influence — Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the United States —  along with representatives from the European Union, which is also invited to all G7 meetings with observer status. 

Humanitarian groups follow the meetings closely because their outcomes can affect overseas development aid, the fight against global poverty, and investment in climate action, among other things.

This year’s meeting, which will be held in the city of Fasano in Apulia, Italy, from June 13-15, is particularly important because, to put it frankly, the world has a lot of pressing challenges to address right now: climate change, the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza, and a global food crisis, to name a few — with all of these crises pushing increasing numbers of people into extreme poverty. 

So, let’s take a look at  the G7  and how it came about, what the Leaders’ Summit has to focus on this year, and how we can all use our voices to urge the G7 leaders to use this opportunity to drive real, positive change. 

How and Why Did the G7 Form?

In the aftermath of the 1973 oil crisis, finance ministers from six of the world’s leading economies — France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US — formalized talks they had been having about the state of the global economy and international politics.

The leaders had just witnessed how disruptions to a crucial global commodity — oil — could lead to widespread job losses, surging inflation, and collapsing trade.

It was a domino effect they wanted to avoid in the future.

So they decided to get on the same page and formally called their gathering the “Group of 6” or G6. Over a few days in Rambouillet, France, in 1975, they discussed everything from multilateral trade to the role of democracies to unemployment.

Since then, the group has continued to meet regularly — including at the annual Leaders’ Summit — and its membership has evolved over time. Canada was added in 1976 to make it the G7, followed by Russia in 1994, making it the G8. Russia was then suspended from the group after it annexed Crimea in 2014, and the group rebounded to G7, with additional representatives from the European Union.

Who Attends the G7 Summit?

The Summit is attended by the heads of state and government of the seven member states, representatives of the European Union, and states and international organizations invited by the Presidency.

Journalists, NGOs, and civil society are also invited. This year, Pope Francis will even attend — the first pope to do so

What Can the G7 Summit Do?

The G7 is a formidable global policy forum. The group includes seven of the nine largest economies in the world, seven of the 15 countries with the most per capita wealth, seven of the 10 leading exporters, and seven of the 10 leading donors to the United Nations. 

Even without the G7, these countries would have tremendous power to shape the priorities of the global economy. But the G7 amplifies their individual influence and acts as a stabilizing force amid the tumult of domestic transitions of power. G7 members regularly invite guest leaders to attend and have supported an offshoot called the G20 to allow more of the world’s countries a chance to align on economic issues.

The presidency of the G7 rotates annually. Since the group is merely an informal association and not an institutionalized organization, the presiding country — Italy this year — bears a special responsibility and can significantly influence the agenda.

Over the years, the G7 has confronted the Chernobyl nuclear meltdown, eliminated debt for low-income countries, mobilized funds for malaria and HIV/AIDS, and promoted issues such as gender equality. However, the group has also been criticized for perpetuating global inequality by guarding the economic status quo — the G7 represents just 10% of the global population — and failing to address global crises such as climate change meaningfully.. 

While the G7 does not directly enact laws or rules, the members release a document each year, penned by the host country,  meant to shape and influence global governance and decision-making processes. However, in the past, the many words in the final declarations of the G7 meetings have not always been followed by concrete action.

What’s on the Agenda This Year?

What’s on the Agenda This Year?

This year, Italy holds the G7 presidency. Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni has said: “We have a great responsibility on our shoulders and we intend to honor it to the best of our ability, once again showing how capable Italy is of charting the course ahead.”

In its own words, the Italian Presidency’s key focus areas are Russia’s war on Ukraine; conflict in the Middle East, with its consequences for the global agenda; engagement with Africa and the Indo-Pacific region; migration; the climate crisis; food security; and the risks and opportunities of AI. 

Although the Leaders’ Summit in Apulia is the highlight, the G7 presidency extends over the entire year.

Both before and after the heads of state and government meet in May, important meetings of the respective ministers take place on the topics of finance, foreign policy, climate, health, and development, where joint positions and concrete measures are negotiated.

Why Is This G7 Summit So Important?

Wars and violent conflicts, global hunger, a debt crisis, and a climate emergency — the world is currently experiencing multiple crises that are reversing the significant progress already made in recent decades on the road to ending extreme poverty.

The World Bank estimates that recent crises have pushed the world further off track from the global goal of ending extreme poverty by 2030. The rate of decreasing global poverty hasn’t just slowed down, it’s gone in the opposite direction.

According to the World Food Programme, 828 million people go to bed hungry every day. And the number of people globally who have been displaced from their homes just surpassed 110 million, a “staggering” milestone according to UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency. 

The need to act now is greater than ever. Because amid all the crises, we must not forget that a just, sustainable, and healthy future for all people, everywhere, is possible.

The roadmap for achieving this is the United Nations Global Goals — 17 goals that work together to end extreme poverty and its systemic causes, from climate change to gender inequality, from health inequity to hunger.

Amid the ongoing global crises, we can’t let leaders lose sight of these goals — what’s needed now is global unity, cooperation, and action to achieve them.

How You Can Take Action Now to Help

At the G7 Summit this year, real action must be taken. We’re urging G7 leaders to take these four bold steps:

1. A successful IDA21 replenishment

2. Make history in leveraging the full potential of Special Drawing Rights (SDRs)

3. Act on debt

4. Put the historic COP28 agreement into action

You can join us t by downloading the Global Citizen app and taking action to help ensure leaders hear the voices of Global Citizens around the world. Together, we can urge world leaders to listen to  our voices now and take the real, transformative action necessary to tackle the global challenges we’re currently facing and deliver a fair, just, and equal world for all. 

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