The Italian G7 Presidency: Global Challenges, Collaborative Action and Concrete Commitments

Photo by: Italian G7 Presidency 2017

Set against the picturesque backdrop of Taormina’s ancient Greco-­Roman theater and the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, this year’s G7 summit deliberated critical global issues through the lens of the host country’s central mission: building the foundations of renewed trust.

Prior to the summit, questions abounded as to the leaders’ capacity for collaborative action and ability to create common positions to drive forward the global agenda.

Amidst heightened concerns about violent extremism, and following several recent tragic attacks across the globe, countering terrorism was at the forefront of discussion in preparing the leaders’ communiqué and the associated summit documents. This year’s communiqué, and separate statement on terrorism, exceeded the 2016 Ise-Shima statements on terrorism – both in word count and in concrete commitments. Foreign policy issues took center stage encompassing the pursuit of solutions to the ongoing and catastrophic crises in Syria and Libya, the continued fight against terrorism in all its forms, and the re-affirmation of commitment to disarmament and non-proliferation. 

In other areas, although the language throughout recognized the severity of global challenges, little was put forward in the way of concrete commitments or new initiatives to address these challenges. Indeed, the 2017 communiqué was confined to six pages comparative to the 32-page summit declaration issued in 2016. The G7 members did commit to increase their collective support for food security and nutrition in Sub-Saharan Africa (such as through increased Official Development Assistance) and reaffirmed their commitment to the 2015 Germany Schloss Elmau target to lift 500 million out of hunger. However, other areas, such as health, only received a cursory review with no mention of the role of financing or international organizations in advancing global health. Delivering gender equality and harnessing the next next production revolution received a more in-depth policy focus in the Roadmap for a Gender- Responsive Economic Environment and People-Centered Action Plan on Innovation, Skills and Labor   

Disappointingly, despite the promise of ‘specific attention’ to be given to the issue of human mobility and the vast scale of migrant and refugee movement, these issues featured sparingly in the communiqué. Concrete solutions did not materialize either in responsibly managing the huge flows of people or in creating measures to stem the root causes: a stark message from a summit held overlooking waters that have taken almost 10,000 migrant lives since January 2015 (UNHCR figures).

With the release of a communiqué lacking substantive action, we can only optimistically look towards Germany’s G20 Summit later this year and 2018’s G7 host, Canada, in the hope of discussion and outcome documents that address these critical global challenges through actionable and accountable targets, offering a commitment of actions rather than solely a commitment of words.

  • For summaries of the key G7 documents, please visit our website
  • For the complete set of documents, please visit the official G7 website.