International and Humanitarian Advocacy at the G7 & G20 Summits

Photo By: Flickr User Downing Street

In 2005, prior to the UK Gleneagles G8 Summit, InterAction began significant advocacy work on issues addressed at the annual G8 summits, focusing on debt cancellation for the most heavily-indebted poor countries. In 2009 InterAction expanded its advocacy efforts to influencing the newly-formed G20 summits. Today InterAction is as busy as ever on G7 and G20 advocacy, playing a leading role in encouraging these groups to address the needs of people in the world's poorest and most vulnerable countries.

InterAction’s G7 and G20 advocacy takes place on two fronts. Domestically, the InterAction-led G7/G20 Advocacy Alliance, comprised of 50 NGOs, advocates with key US government officials who are involved in the annual summits. Internationally, InterAction works with NGOs around the world to identify and advocate on issues that are priorities for international civil society and relevant to the summits. To this end, InterAction maintains the International G7/G20 Network, an information-sharing list with 440 members from 37 countries.

This year the G7 and G20 summits are being held earlier than in previous years. In May, Italy will host the G7 Taormina Summit and, in July, Germany the G20 Hamburg Summit. This abbreviated calendar has intensified NGO advocacy work.

For the 2017 summits, InterAction’s G7/G20 Alliance organized policy teams around eight key issues:

  • Anti-corruption, led by Shruti Shah, Coalition for Integrity (G20)
  • Food Security and Nutrition, led by Eric Muñoz, Oxfam America and Amit Smotrich, InterAction (G7)
  • Global Health, led by Smita Baruah, Save the Children (G7)
  • Jobs and  Employment, led by Molly McCoy, Solidarity Center (G20)
  • Refugee Crisis, led by Sara Ibrahim, US Committee for Refugees and Immigrants (G7 and G20)
  • Responsible Business Conduct, led by Daisy Francis, World Vision (G7 and G20)
  • Sustainability: Infrastructure, Energy, and Climate, led by Sasanka Thilakasiri, Oxfam America (G20)
  • Women's Economic Empowerment, led by Lyric Thompson, International Center for Research on Women (G7 and G20)

The G7/G20 Advocacy Alliance has met with government officials involved in the summits regarding the above issues, including those at the White House, USAID, and the Departments of State, Labor, and Treasury.

In January, InterAction co-led an international G7 NGO strategy meeting in Rome with ActionAid Italy and GCAP Italy. Over 60 NGO attended from the G7 countries (US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Canada), Belgium, Mexico, and Switzerland. The highlight was a face-to- face meeting with the G7 country Sherpas, who coordinate summit preparations and represent their heads of state. InterAction organized and chaired the civil society side of the Sherpa meeting, which included presentations on select civil society issues: agriculture, food and nutrition; migration; gender; health; environment; and systemic issues including ODA and trade. The Civil Society C7 "Summit" was held in April in Rome, which InterAction again co-led with ActionAid Italy and GCAP Italy. InterAction opened the conference and led both civil society dialogues with the Italian Sherpa team and with the Under Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

InterAction has also been engaged in G20 advocacy. InterAction was invited to join the C20 International Steering Committee, a group of civil society figures from important international NGOs that represent the voices of international civil society. The Steering Committee held a G20 workshop in Berlin in February attended by over 100 NGO representatives from 28 countries. These representatives formed thematic working groups to draft recommendations on issues, which will be presented to the 2017 G20 president, German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

InterAction is already looking ahead to 2018, when Argentina will host the G20 summit and Canada the G7 summit, by proactively working with NGOs in these countries to help shape the summit agendas. After all, InterAction’s ongoing G7 and G20 advocacy work is predicated upon the fact that the G7 and G20 cannot solve the most pressing global challenges without the involvement and participation of civil society.

This blog post was co-authored by John Ruthrauff and Ben Bestor.