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What is the G77 and why does it matter?

After the UN, the G77 is the second biggest international organization in the world.

After the UN, the G77 is the second biggest international organization in the world. Image: REUTERS

Kate Whiting
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  • 2024 marks the 60th anniversary of the Group of 77 (G77), established at the United Nations in 1964.
  • It is the largest intergovernmental organization of developing countries in the United Nations.
  • Here’s what you need to know about the G77 and why it matters.

“I count on your group, who have long been champions of multilateralism, to step up, to use your power, and fight: Champion a system rooted in equality; champion a system ready to reverse the injustice and neglect of centuries.”

So said United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, speaking at a summit of the Group of 77 (G77) emerging economies in Cuba ahead of the UN General Assembly in September 2023.

The Summit, which also included China, focused on "Current Development Challenges: The Role of Science, Technology and Innovation”.

June 2024 marks 60 years since the birth of the G77, but what exactly is it?

Origins and scope of the G77

The G77 was set up on 15 June, 1964, at the first session of the UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), with 77 countries signing the Joint Declaration of Seventy-Seven Countries.

The First Ministerial meeting of the G77 took place in Algeria in 1967 at which the ‘Charter of Algiers’ was adopted, which noted that “the lot of more than a billion people in the developing world continues to deteriorate as a result of the trends in international economic relations”.

The Charter set out the foundations for the international development agenda, including the mechanisms and structures intended to boost the economies of the global South.

When Guterres addressed the G77, he noted that although they have lifted millions out of poverty, they face multiple crises from climate change and hunger to debt.

He said: “The conclusion is clear: The world is failing developing countries.”

The UN’s Global Sustainable Development Report 2023 found the funding gap to help developing countries reach the Sustainable Development Goals grew by 56% in 2020.

Infographic illustrating the financing gap for the sustainable development goals.
The sustainable development financing gap in developing countries increased by at least 56% in 2020. Image: Global Sustainable Development Report

How is the G77 organized and which countries does it include?

After the UN, the G77 is the second biggest international organization in the world.

Despite its name, it now numbers 134 countries, comprising 80% of the global population. China is not a full member.

Countries in the G77 range from Latin America and the Caribbean to Africa and Asia-Pacific, from Least Developed Countries to Small Island Developing States, which are often the hardest hit by the impacts of climate change.

Each year in January, a different country takes over as chair. In 2022, Pakistan led the Group and in 2023, Cuba held the Chairmanship, under Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel.

At the Summit in Havana, he called for a new world order to promote greater equality: "After all this time that the North has organized the world according to its interests, it is now up to the South to change the rules of the game."

Speaking on behalf of the G77 at the UN General Assembly’s High Level Dialogue on Financing for Development, he called for the ‘current financial architecture’ to be redesigned to better assist the global South.

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What’s next for the G77?

Looking ahead to COP28 in November 2023, the G77, backed by Guterres, is calling for the operationalization of the Loss and Damage Fund, agreed at COP27 to assist “developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change”.

In September 2024, the UN General Assembly will convene the Summit of the Future, which Guterres says represents an opportunity to “reshape the international system and international institutions to make them reflect today’s realities instead of the realities that existed after the Second World War to create a fairer future for developing countries".

Guterres has also urged the G77 to take a lead role in the UN’s Global Digital Compact, which is designed to ensure everyone benefits from the transition to a digital economy.

“New rules for new technologies cannot just be written by the wealthy and the privileged,” he said.

Speaking on behalf of the G77 at the UN General Assembly, Cuba’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Bruno Rodríguez Parrilla said:

“The Summit of the Future should provide a platform for the acceleration of the multilateral system reform to move towards a more just, equitable, united and sustainable world that advances towards the sustainable development and prosperity of all countries in the world, in line with the UN Charter.

“The Group reaffirms the need to ensure the recognition to the right to development and the right to live free of hunger and poverty, as a priority for developing countries.”

Solving food insecurity in Africa was on the agenda at the World Economic Forum’s Sustainable Development Impact Meetings, held in September to coincide with the UN General Assembly.

At the leadership panel, Bridging the Gap: Financing Africa's Agricultural Growth, leaders said we need to accelerate investment in small and medium agricultural enterprises (agri-SMEs), which are the key to transforming food systems and improving food security for the continent.

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