The G-7 Summits were initiated by France in 1975 to provide a flexible platform for the leaders of the seven largest advanced economies of the world to deliberate on pressing global issues. By expanding these discussions to include key countries outside the G-7 in critical areas, the impact of G-7 discussions can have a global impact. In 1989, the G-7 Summit hosted by France had created the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to counter money-laundering and the financing of terror. In recent years, India as a member of the FATF has actively sought to enforce international cooperation through this platform in countering the financing of terrorism sponsored by Pakistan.
The invitation to India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi to participate in the G-7 Summit held in Biarritz France as a ‘Special Biarritz Partner’ was motivated by France’s desire to enlist India as a “major democracy” to combat all forms of inequality more effectively, legitimately and tangibly. As “democratic societies committed to upholding multilateralism”, India and France have prioritized interaction within the G-7 framework in the spheres of climate change, biodiversity and oceans and digital transformation.
On Climate and Biodiversity issues, India will support new initiatives under the framework of the G-7 as well as the United Nations Secretary-General’s Climate Action Summit on 23rd September 2019. During the meeting, Prime Minister Modi said that he had “highlighted India’s large-scale efforts towards eliminating single use plastic, conserving water, harnessing solar energy and protecting flora and fauna for a sustainable future”.
India’s activities after the G-7 Summit will include steps to
“mitigate climate change” by lowering Green House Gas (GHG) emissions through financial flows aligned with the UNFCCC’s 2015 Paris Agreement objectives. As part of the Montreal Protocol’s Kigali Plan, the G-7’s Biarritz Pledge for Fast Action on Efficient Cooling will see India’s participation in projects for the reduction of hydro-fluoro-carbons (HFCs) and improved energy efficiency standards in the refrigeration sector.
In the Digital sphere, both India and France have supported “economic and social development through an open, secure and peaceful cyberspace, in which international law applies.” The French objective at the G-7 is designed to protect fundamental freedoms at a time when digital technology and Artificial Intelligence are poised to revolutionize cyberspace.
The importance of selecting data sets and developing Artificial Intelligence technologies was discussed at the G-7 Summit. A group of experts on Artificial Intelligence, including from India, has been proposed to enhance international cooperation in this field. Secondly, the G-7 discussions prioritized accountability and transparency of online platforms, including through a proposed Charter on an Open, Free and Safe Internet. This would include governments, platforms and businesses in the digital sector willing to make concrete commitments to counter the spread of dangerous content on the internet. A third area discussed at the G-7 related to generating confidence in data-based technologies and infrastructure, especially 5G technology and the free flow of data. India’s participation in these key areas will impact on global decisions on the use of cyberspace for the transformation of India.
Prime Minister Modi stressed the need to leverage technology to empower our planet. Specifically, he “highlighted the power of transformative technology to furthering innovation and how India is using technology to further innovation and promoting digital payments”.
The G-7 digital initiative can potentially catalyze the negotiation and adoption of a multi-stakeholder Convention on Cyberspace at the UN General Assembly in the future. Such a Convention is needed to provide the principles and objectives for effective international cooperation on applying digital technologies for people-centric sustainable development.