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G7 leaders risk falling short unless they urgently scale up ambitions

At today’s press briefing at the G7, Civil Society 7 warned that G7 leaders risk falling short on eradicating Covid-19, tacking climate change and environmental degradation, and achieving open societies unless ambitions are urgently raised. 

The Civil Society 7 (C7) is a group of organisations, including Action for Global Health, UK Committee for UNICEF (UNICEF UK), Plan International UK, Concern Worldwide, Crisis Action, CAN UK, Jubilee Debt Campaign, and the Trade Justice Movement, responsible for engaging with the G7 on urgent civil society issues. The Civil Society 7 has consulted and engaged with representatives of over 200 civil society organisations from around the world.

Stephanie Draper, CEO of Bond the UK network for organisations working in international development, and C7 lead, said:

“The story of success of this Summit will be defined by how far along the journey towards tackling Covid-19, climate change and threats to biodiversity this year’s G7 takes us. That starts with vaccines. Today’s announcement was a good start, but it is still too little, too slow. It is going to take 10 billion vaccines, as well as strengthened healthcare systems to deliver these vaccines. We need progress on doses, vaccine patents lifted and for the G7 to share the bill.

The G7 also needs to provide a strong foundation for COP26 which means concrete commitments, with money and action plans – not just warm words. Progress on vaccines will help build trust that the G7 can deliver on its promises, and that will be essential to COP26, but we need further commitments on climate finance. The Summit will fail if it doesn’t deliver on those two things. 

We expect the G7 to come out strongly in support of open societies as a core tenet of being democratic nations – part of this needs to include working in partnership with civil society and protecting human rights defenders. But civic space needs protecting globally, and we need the G7 to publicly hold countries that restrict freedoms to account. Finally, we want to see a collective commitment to addressing racial injustice as part of building a genuinely open society.

Undoubtedly, the UK’s position as the only G7 country to have rowed back on its aid commitment will undermine what it hopes to achieve.”

Earlier this week, over 1,700 academics, charities and business leaders agreed with this sentiment, saying that the UK’s words risk ringing hollow at G7 unless aid cuts are reversed. 

The G7 meets at a time of converging crises, and will need to discuss issues including the climate crisis and the global COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other health crises worldwide. 

Thoko Elphick-Pooley, Executive Director at Uniting to Combat Neglected Tropical Diseases, said, “The fact that G7 leaders are talking about [COVID-19] vaccines being available to people around the world by next summer scares me. G7 will fail unless they urgently move vaccines from the manufacture into people’s arm. This means dropping the intellectual property on Covid-19 vaccines (IP) and investing in manufacturers, and countries that have bought a surplus of vaccine doses sharing them. It is also important to remember that other diseases have not disappeared; countries need to honour and remember the commitments they have made to address neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).”

Catherine Pettengell, the Interim Director of Climate Action Network UK, also spoke to the converging crises, saying:

“All G7 countries think they are doing enough on climate finance, but with the $100bn target off track, it just doesn’t add up. The G7 needs to take a collective responsibility for how to make climate finance promises real – especially for adaptation which remains woefully underfunded globally. That means increasing climate finance commitments right here and right now. For the UK, that also means reversing the devastating aid cuts, and committing to establishing new sources of finance for low carbon development, adaptation, and especially the loss and damage being experienced from climate change impacts happening right now.

The spirit of climate finance is that it is additional support that developing countries receive to tackle the climate crisis not of their making – but new money has not been provided, and UK climate finance is now coming from a shrinking aid budget. Promises of support are nothing without finance attached, and the G7 collectively is failing in its responsibilities to climate vulnerable countries under the Paris Agreement.”

Read the full C& communique here

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