15 March 2021

UK civil society is calling on the government to set out an inclusive, bold and transformative agenda for the G7 to address growing global poverty and inequality.  

NGOs have set out 7 priorities where they believe urgent action is required if world leaders are to protect the rights of the most marginalised and build a more inclusive, resilient and stainable future for all. Priorities include healthcare, education, climate and environment, sustainable economic recovery, civic space, food security and nutrition, and conflict.
  
Stephanie Draper, CEO of Bond, the UK network for organisations working in international development and official Civil Society 7 (C7) lead said: 

“This G7 will be like no other. The global pandemic, climate change, conflict and inequality have pushed billions back into poverty and undone progress towards a healthier, safer and more sustainable world. We have seen firsthand that crises hurt the most vulnerable hardest, regardless of where you live in the world - be it health, jobs, education or food. These global challenges require a global response. 

Even the UK aid budget, a lifeline to millions of people around the world and a manifesto commitment, is being savagely cut back with the first casualty of these cuts being the people living in Yemen which is on the verge of the world’s worst famine in decades. 

Leaders must define how we will emerge from this pandemic and tackle the most pressing issues around the world today. People around the world need hope that there won't be a return to the past, but instead a shift towards a better future where we put self-interest aside and work together to build a sustainable, inclusive, equitable, safer and resilient world.”
 
Priority 1. Health 

NGOs are calling for G7 leaders to urgently invest in stronger healthcare systems, both in their own country and globally, ensuring health, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene services are accessible and affordable to everyone, and resilient to future pandemics and diseases. The Covid-19 pandemic has now led to over 2 million deaths globally, exposing serious weaknesses in health systems and the barriers people face trying to access health care. 

Katie Husselby, Coordinator for Action for Global Health, said: 

“Covid-19 has underscored how health is interconnected to every aspect of our lives. At the same time, it has also highlighted the hugely insufficient investment and attention paid to health over recent years. There has never been a more important moment in history for the G7 to step up to address the pandemic, redress health inequalities and urgently work towards better pandemic preparedness and the achievement of universal health coverage.” 

Priority 2. Climate and environment 

UK NGOs are calling for G7 leaders to urgently decarbonize the global economy and end investment for all fossil fuels; prioritise climate finance to enable vulnerable countries and communities adapt and address the irreversible loss and damage caused by climate change; support workers and affected communities transition to more sustainable, inclusive and resilient future; and sign the Leaders Pledge for Nature and join the High Ambition Coalition for Nature to stop and reverse biodiversity loss by 2030.  

Catherine Pettengell, Bond Development and Environment Group Coordinator, said: 

“This year the UK government has a unique opportunity to put a sustainable, inclusive, and resilient future for all at the forefront of international action and cooperation as host of both the G7 and COP26. In this decade we must collectively limit climate change, restore nature, and create more fair and equal societies, otherwise, we will emerge from this global pandemic locked into a climate emergency, a nature emergency, and a poverty emergency. We will undermine our and future generations’ ability to produce food, to have enough water, to live healthily, and to thrive.  

Decisions our leaders take this year will set our course for the rest of this decade - and it must be to realise a just and sustainable world for us all.” 

Priority 3. Sustainable economic recovery  

NGOs are calling on G7 leaders to tackle structural inequalities as part of the world's economic recovery from Covid-19, particularly in terms of resilience, providing decent work and social protection, and protecting livelihoods of marginalised people. They are also calling on G7 leaders to include private lenders in any move towards cancelling international debt and to support fair and sustainable trade policies and practices which work for low- and middle-income countries. 

Kit Dorey, Policy Manager at Bond, said:  

“Most of the causes of international economic inequalities, which have been exacerbated by Covid-19, pre-existed the pandemic. G7 leaders must urgently address these inequalities and the ongoing injustices of the global economic system, and their painful historical legacy, in any recovery from Covid-19 if we hope to withstand similar crises in future.  

We have already seen trillions of US dollars allocated for Covid recovery packages, the majority in industrialised countries, and so we urge the G7 to lead an economic recovery that centres on resilience, decent work for all, and the livelihoods of the most marginalised. With this in mind, we call upon the G7 to commit to supporting universal social protection, policies and programmes which aim to tackle structural inequalities, fair and sustainable trade policies and practices which work for low- and middle-income countries, and the assurance that private lenders will be included in any move towards cancelling international debt.” 

Priority 4. Open societies and civic space:  

NGOs are calling for G7 leaders to actively champion democracy, civil society and human rights, and act quickly to condemn governments who have used the Covid-19 pandemic as an excuse to restrict human rights and civic freedoms. Organisations are concerned that rising authoritarianism and corruption have been exacerbated by the pandemic, and civil society space, human rights, democracy and the rule of law are increasingly under threat.  

Patricia Meléndez, head of Civic Space at Article 19, said: 

“The G7 is an important opportunity for democratic leaders to stand up to countries who have used Covid-19 as an excuse to restrict human rights and civic freedoms. We urge the G7 to issue a strong statement in support of open societies which recognises the important role civil society plays in realising human rights, transparency and democracy worldwide. Democratic governments must act now to confront rising authoritarianism and corruption, and fulfill their obligation to protect Human Rights Defenders, journalists and civil society organisations, ensuring they have access to protection mechanisms and emergency funds.” 

Priority 5. Education 

NGOs are calling for quality, inclusive, and equitable education for every child to be prioritised at the G7, at a time when millions of children risk never returning to school once the pandemic is over, including up to 20 million girls. Leaders are being called on to address the impact the pandemic has had on girl’s education, as well as the structural barriers that prevent girls from accessing and completing education, such as poverty and inequality, child marriage and teenage pregnancy. 

Anja Nielson, Senior Policy Adviser for Education and Youth at the UK National Committee for UNICEF, Unicef UK, said: 

“Covid-19 has disrupted education for over a billion learners around the world, putting their futures on hold and at risk. It is essential that the UK builds on its leadership in global education to ensure a successful G7 summit that delivers ambitious and accountable commitments to get Sustainable Development Goal 4 on track for girls around the world.” 

Priority 6. Food security and nutrition:  

UK NGOs are calling for the UK government to address food insecurity and malnutrition and work with other G7 countries to increase financial support for famine prevention and relief. NGOs are also calling for greater efforts from the G7 to build sustainable and climate resilient food systems, and ensure that local communities and organisations are involved in the decision-making processes.  

Caroline Maxwell, Senior Policy Officer (Nutrition) at Concern Worldwide UK, said: 

“Despite decades of progress, levels of hunger and malnutrition are rising. The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic could cause an additional nine million children to be severely malnourished. The clock is ticking. The G7, is when we need to see political will and ambition matched with resources. The UK government needs to take this opportunity to lead the fight to end hunger and malnutrition and ensure there is equitable access to nutritious food for the poorest people.” 

Priority 7. Conflict and atrocity prevention  

UK NGOs are calling on G7 leaders to work to deescalate current conflicts, help to build peaceful societies, and commit to taking action on some of the world’s most pressing crises. 

The C7 Conflict Group, made up of organisations working in humanitarian crisis including, Save the Children, Oxfam and NRC, said:  

“The consequences of neglecting conflict affected and fragile states during the pandemic will have long-term effects as health inequality increases, crises deteriorate, human rights are compromised and people are forced to flee, creating conditions which make way for further conflict. We will start to see increasing levels of humanitarian need across the globe and an exponential increase in the vulnerability of conflict-affected populations. Efforts to prevent conflict are more cost-effective than responding to the aftermath of conflict. While humanitarian support can save lives now. 

With this in mind, we call upon G7 leaders to use this year’s summit to prioritise conflict prevention and response as part of their efforts to ‘build back better’ and develop a joint approach to some of the most urgent crises of the moment – Yemen, Ethiopia, Myanmar - where violence and instability prove a further threat to mortality, well-being, and livelihoods. This is not the time to cut back on aid, but to invest in building long-term resilience to help vulnerable populations withstand future shocks” 

ENDS

Notes to Editor

  1. In June 2021, the leaders of the UK, Germany, Japan, USA, Canada, France, Italy will meet in Carbis Bay, Cornwall, for the G7 Leaders’ Summit.
  2. Bond has been appointed as lead of the Civil Society 7 engagement group, with responsibility to coordinate dialogue between government and civil society.
  3. The Civil Society 7 engagement group’s full list of policy recommendations for a transformative agenda for the G7 will cover the following key areas: climate and environment, health, education, food and nutrition, open societies, peace and conflict resolution, and sustainable economic recovery. It can be found here.
  4. Bond’s G7 media site, where there is additional content for journalists in the run up to the G7 and C7, including Bond G7 media briefings and press releases, main points of contact for the C7 engagement group, access to versions of the C7 logo, an image library, and recent media coverage of the G7, can be found here.
  5. Bond is the UK network for organisations working in international development. Bond unites and supports a diverse network of over 400 civil society organisations from across the UK, and allies to help eradicate global poverty, inequality and injustice.
  6. For further information or interviews please contact Maryam Mohsin on 07555 336029 or [email protected]