By: Prof. UMMU SALMA BAVA, Professor and Jean Monnet Chair, Centre for European Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi
The annual G7 Summit concluded after a three-day meeting from 11 to 13 June 2021 in Cornwall, the United Kingdom. With the UK holding the Presidency, this group which is made up of the world’s leading economies- United States, United Kingdom, Germany, France, Japan, Italy and Canada, has been in consultation with each other since 1975. This year, leaders of India, Australia, South Korea and South Africa were invited as guests. Due to the impact of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Narendra Modi cancelled his visit and virtually participated in the G7 Summit’s outreach meetings.
US President Joe Biden’s engagement not only signalled the return of the US to address major international issues but also indicated a strong push by him to counter the Chinese influence by rallying the western countries. The theme for the Summit was “Build Back Better”. The UK outlined four priority area for its Presidency – leading the global recovery from coronavirus while strengthening resilience against future pandemics; promoting future prosperity by championing free and fair trade; tackling climate change and preserving the planet’s biodiversity; and championing shared values and open societies.
On Saturday, Prime Minister Modi participated in the outreach session titled ’Building Back Stronger – Health’ that focused on the pandemic and the global response to this crisis. Prime Minister expressed his appreciation for the support by the G7 group during India’s recent wave of Covid infections. In his address, he highlighted the proposal at the WTO by India and South Africa for a TRIPS waiver on COVID related technologies and urged the G7 for its support. He also sent out a message of “One Earth One Health” thereby drawing attention for solidarity in the fight against the pandemic.
On Sunday, Prime Minister Modi participated in two sessions on the economy and environment titled ‘Building Back together- Open Societies and Economies’ and ‘Building Back Greener: Climate and Nature’. He was the Lead Speaker in the session on Open Societies and Economies’, wherein he drew attention to the vulnerabilities faced by open societies to disinformation and cyber-attacks. He also called for a reform of the multilateral system as the best signal of commitment to the cause of open societies.
In the session on climate change, the Indian Prime Minister called for collective action on climate change. He also stressed that India is the only G-20 country on track to meet its Paris commitments and drew attention to two initiatives- CDRI and the International Solar Alliance.
He highlighted the need for a holistic approach towards climate change that covers all dimensions of the problem- mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer, climate financing, equity, climate justice and lifestyle change.
At the conclusion of the Summit, the leaders adopted the Carbis Bay declaration that highlights a shared G7 agenda for global action- (a) end the pandemic and prepare for the future (b) reinvigorate our economies, (c) secure out future prosperity (d) protect our planet (e) strengthen our partnerships and (f) embrace our values.
Together they pledged 1 billion Covid 19 vaccine doses for less developed countries and adopted a collaborative response that is swift within 100 days. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson emphasised that the G7 has an unprecedented opportunity to drive a global Green Industrial Revolution, with the potential to transform the way we live and called the efforts to address the pandemic as a historic declaration.
The G7 leaders agreed to a shared statement along with Australia, India, South Korea and South Africa on the value and role of open societies. In addition, they agreed to a ‘nature compact’, and also aimed at cutting their carbon emissions by half till 2030 and become zero-emission economies by 2050. In a big move, they agreed not to finance any new coal-based power generation nationally or internationally.
The Ministry of External Affairs called India’s engagement ‘fruitful and productive. This was the second G7 Summit that India attended after Biarritz in France in 2019 and the first time that the country has engaged in ministerial and working-level tracks as a guest country. India’s participation in the G7 Summit reinforces its position as an important partner for global change.