The G7 Summit: Its Trajectory over the years and goals in 2021

G7 Summit 2021 in Cornwall, UKImage credit: Adrian DENNIS / AFP

The G7, short form for a group of seven nations, gathers seven of the world’s most significant economies to discuss some of the most crucial topics affecting the globe. The G7 includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.

International security, the world economy, and other topics of relevance such as peace, harmony, and climate change are the usual topics of discussion taken up at the summit. However, this year, the gathering is most likely to discuss the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the course of recovery that they can adopt, and other related aspects of global health.

Formation and History of the Summit

In the beginning, they were known as the “Library Group” founded by the then US Treasury Secretary, George Shultz. The gathering initially consisted of the US, France, Germany, and the UK meeting up informally and chatting about currency stabilization matters. Japan joined the group soon after (CNN).

In the 1970s, the world was coping with the impact of the first oil shock and the collapse of the Bretton Woods fixed exchange rate system, which became the central topic of discussion in the meetings. By then, two of the group’s original members had become the French and German Presidents, which led to these meetings being converted into an official gathering of heads of states and governments.

By 1976, they had been joined by Canada and Italy, coming to be known as the G7. Apart from the presidents and prime ministers of these countries, representatives of the European Union join the G7 Summit annually. The EU membership is full of rights and obligations, but the EU cannot host or chair summits.

When Russia was invited to join the meeting as an official member in 1998, the group called itself G8. In March 2014, the G7 countries decided that Russia would be excluded from meeting until further notice due to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. It was decided that the G7 would not attend the G8 Summit in Sochi under the Russian presidency that year. Russia shall remain suspended unless the country changes its policy and creates a conducive environment for reasonable discussion.

g7 1980
G7 Summit on June 22, 1980, San Giorgio Island, Venice, Italy.

inclusion of other emerging economies, including India; The G20

In 1997, the G7 decided to participate more actively in the “international monetary system”. It, hence, led to the formation of the G-20, which was able to further “promote dialogue between major industrial and emerging market countries” (Wikipedia). The committee examines and deals with issues that are beyond any single nation’s responsibility.

The G20 countries account for around 90 percent of the gross world product, 80 percent of the world trade, two-thirds of the global population, and approximately half of the world land area, making them a mighty economic force.

The G20 is an extraordinary initiative to include more nations into the worldwide policy decision spectrum; however, the G7 still holds much power over the extended nations regarding decision-making in many global affairs. Most of the time, countries simply have to comply with the G7’s decisions to avoid harm.

G20
G20 Summit held in Japan, 2019

In 2020, Trump invited India, represented by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, to attend the G7 Summit, which was to be hosted by US Presidency. Additionally, he spoke in favour of opening the G7 gathering to other nations. The Summit in 2020 took place virtually due to the pandemic and collapsing state of global healthcare. Even with the warm welcome, India’s official membership in the G7 seems a long way off.

The 2021 G7 Summit and its importance in forming a global path for COVID-19 recovery

The G7 Summit of 2021 was held last weekend, i.e. 11th June, Friday to 13th June, Sunday in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, under the presidency of UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson. The G7 countries gave top priority to discussions relating to the pandemic and finding a way forward for all nations this time.

Even before the Summit, Boris had already pledged to contribute towards the pandemic to the best of his capability. UK’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson guaranteed to provide a fraction of its vaccine stocks to countries in need. He also encouraged other G7 nations to come forward and help the more vulnerable countries deal with the disastrous effects of the pandemic.

Boris said that it is essential that governments around the globe learn from this pandemic and take a step to prevent a tragedy like such from ever arising again. The nations at the Summit finally pledged to donate 870 million doses of covid-19 vaccines by the end of 2021 to the countries belonging to the lower and middle-income categories.

At the close of a three-day meeting in Cornwall, England, the G7 countries vowed to uplift the economies of those in need to recover from the recent global economic crisis amidst the pandemic with a US $12 trillion funding. Signed by all G7 members, the Carbis Bay declaration was of the utmost importance. It aimed to prevent future pandemics by taking all preventative measures. Moreover, the United Kingdom will establish new centres to develop vaccines that prevent dangerous diseases spread from animals to humans under this declaration.

Biden and Boris
Prime Minister Boris Johnson meets with U.S. President Joe Biden, ahead of the G7 summit, at Carbis Bay Hotel, on June 10, 2021 (Photo by Toby Melville – WPA Pool/Getty Images)

One of the other critical points of discussion was that of the rise of China and the threat it brings along with. The Washington Post quoted Joe Biden as saying that the US is ready to take the lead in protecting the world from “harmful activities” of Russia and China. On many fronts, some unity was already forming amongst the G7 nations regarding this matter.

Lately, both the US and Britain have constantly emphasized issues relating to a deeper investigation into the coronavirus origin, including a thorough examination of the Wuhan Lab after theories erupting about the possibility of a laboratory leak.

After the Summit, Joe Biden also reported that the meeting was “extraordinarily collaborative and productive” in terms of revitalising the global economy and criticising China’s role in recent international events.

Apart from this, much focus was be attributed to Climate change as the COP26 conference also awaits to be held in UK, November this year. Carbon dioxide levels are the highest they have ever been in the past four million years, leading to extensive global warming, which most fear we might not be able to recover from unless adequate steps are taken now!

At the summit, UK once again emphasized its pledge to provide 500 million Euros toward ocean conservation efforts, and the nations reaffirmed their commitment to end coal financing efforts.

In conclusion, we can say that the 2021 G7 Summit was one of the most crucial ones held over the years. To recover from a slowed economy due to the pandemic and at the same time protect the environment from any further harm is indeed very challenging. It is vital that the steps they take right now are to take all nations forward. As countries, we need to put aside our selfish motives and think of all those who would suffer without proper help. 

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