The 2016 G7 Summit: Successes Thus Far

Photo by: Arron Hoare (CC)

As with most major international summits, real, change-affecting policy is written long before the heads of government arrive in the host nation. This year is proving to be no different.

The ministerial meetings  leading up to the 2016 G7 summit, while yet to produce enforceable policy changes, have  taken a number of notable steps towards addressing many of the pressing issues facing the global community today. As a result, the mood amongst the NGO community – and here at InterAction – is hopeful as we head into the Summit in the coming weeks.

Each spring prior to the G7 and G20 summits, InterAction’s G7/G20 Advocacy Alliance produces a set of recommendations addressing a number of issues. Importantly, the issues the alliance chooses are determined to have the greatest potential for change. This year’s policy areas for the G7 were: global health, food security and nutrition, supply chains, and women’s economic empowerment. These areas – though notable for the potential policy developments – are an almost unprecedented achievement this early in the G7 calendar.

Addressing Global Health

The Foreign Ministers meeting, held April 10-11, produced an official communique addressing a range of issues currently impacting peace and stability around the world. Of particular note were the statements released on global health and women.

The foreign ministers recommitted to the promotion of sustainable and resilient health systems, particularly within the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals. There was also a recommitment to replenish the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria, continued assistance for Ebola affected countries recovering from the impact of the epidemic, and strengthening health system capacities around the world in the face of growing Zika concerns.

These commitments align with the G7 Summit Recommendations for Global Health, which called for addressing global health in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals, and replenishing the Global Funds while also setting achievable targets for ending the ongoing AIDS, tuberculosis, malaria and neglected tropical disease epidemics.

Women’s Economic Empowerment

Women’s economic empowerment – one of the most important issue area’s for this year’s summit due to the Japanese government’s efforts to improve the status of women in its society – was broadly addressed across the ministerial meetings. The talks included issues such as the prevention of sexual violence in conflict, inclusion of women in security processes, and economic empowerment of women in the agricultural sector.

As the foreign ministers communique addressed the need for gender equality overall, it specifically called for the active and meaningful participation of women in the process of “conflict prevention and resolution, mediation, peacebuilding, peacekeeping, humanitarian response and in post-conflict reconstruction, and recognition of the role of women as strong agents for reconciliation and community resilience.”

When considering the policy recommendations put forward by InterAction, this statement aligns with our call for women’s access to sustainable, dignified work and skills-building – especially in the wake of the current ongoing humanitarian crises around the world, which have a disproportionately negative impact on women.

The Agricultural Ministers Meeting, which took place April 23-24, also raised the importance of women’s economic empowerment. The meeting’s formal statement addressed the role of gender equality in building stable communities and stimulating rural development; highlighted the importance of strengthening the role of women in “agri-food” related areas and improving women’s access to land assets; and stressed the need to address women and youth empowerment in agriculture through the framework of the Sustainable Development Goals.

These commitments have created a noteworthy sense of excitement as we head into the G7 Summit in the following weeks. It is vital to keep in mind, however, that until there are viable action plans that are in the process of implementation, these commitments are merely verbose language with little potential to enact change.

It is our sincerest hope that the leaders of the G7 nations will continue the positive momentum of the ministerial meetings and produce detailed plans to carry out these commitments and measure their success over the coming years. 

Blog by Christina Hoenow. Hoenow is an international advocacy researcher with the global development practice team at InterAction.