German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) (The Current Column, 7 April 2014
Bonn, 7 April 2015. Three future-oriented UN summits to be held this year will shape the global agenda for the rest of the decade. The first of the summits will take place in Addis Ababa in July and will decide how the global development agenda should be funded by the international community and implemented using technology transfer and other methods. During the UN General Assembly to take place in September in New York, the global post-2015 agenda will specify an estimated 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that are to apply to all countries until 2030. Then, finally, December will see the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, at which member states hope to approve a new universal climate accord.
As these major multilateral events affect the whole world, the G7 countries must play their part in ensuring they are a success. The German presidency of the G7 Summit, which will take place at Schloss Elmau in June, must be used to support the new global agenda and envisaged sustainable development goals on three levels: in the G7 states themselves, in developing nations and on a global level.
Sustainable Development starts at home
First and foremost, the G7 should foster changes that have significant effects around the globe. While the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs nearly exclusively aimed at changes in low- and middle-income countries, the new goals for sustainable development are intended to bring about a global transformation. This means that all governments – including those of the G7 countries – must take action at a domestic level and harmonise their national policies with the new global agenda for sustainable development. This is why national SDG implementation plans are needed to ensure accountability in terms of progress. More than any others, it is the industrial nations that must take on more responsibility for sustainable consumption and production patterns within the framework of the G7, for example, by holding companies to account for failing to comply with social and environmental standards, and by significantly improving resource efficiency. The G7 nations are also called upon to set out in more specific terms (time frame and content) what their contribution will be to limiting global warming to a maximum of 2°C.
Supporting development in poor countries
Secondly, the G7 countries must declare their willingness to provide more support to sustainable development in developing countries. The G7 countries should pledge to significantly increase their contributions to Official Development Assistance (ODA). As suggested by the German Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN Germany), the annual level of ODA sent from G7 states to the poorest countries should be doubled by 2020, increasing to more than 50 billion USD. Equally importantly, the G7 countries must fulfil their financial pledges concerning climate change and substantiate them. SDSN Germany suggests that from 2020 onwards, the G7 should make 50 billion USD per year for five years available to low- and middle-income countries in order to mitigate climate change and its effects. The G7 countries should also promote technology transfer to poorer countries. In this context, the G7 should also work towards the planned UN Technology Bank, one of the aims of which is to facilitate developing countries’ access to new technologies. In the light of the Ebola Crisis in West Africa, to which the international community failed to respond quickly and effectively enough, national health systems in poorer countries need to be strengthened and work needs to be done to prevent new crises. In order for this to be possible, the G7 countries should make substantial pledges to the World Health Organization (WHO) and for the newly planned contingency fund.
Supporting Equitable Global Governance at a Global Level
Thirdly, the G7 states must declare their support for more effective and legitimate institutions at a global level. This includes the implementation of the governance reforms that have been agreed upon by the multilateral institutions, for example, the voting rights reform within the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which better reflects the economic clout currently held by the Global South. The willingness to work towards a fair international trade and investment system would be another powerful signal. In concrete terms, accords concluded between industrial nations, such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), should not be allowed to marginalise developing countries.
The 21st century is the era of global goods and systemic risks, in addition to being the era of unparalleled opportunities for development. The involvement of G7 states in the implementation of the global development agenda is therefore a sine qua non for ensuring worldwide prosperity within the limits set by planetary boundaries.