Global Cooperation

G7 Summit talking points: From Ukraine and Gaza to the impact of AI

People pass by the Grand Hotel Quisisana where the G7 Foreign Ministers summit will be held in Capri, Italy, April 16, 2024.

The G7 Summit focused on key issues including AI and climate change. Image: REUTERS/Remo Casilli

David Elliott
Senior Writer, Forum Agenda
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  • The G7 Italy Summit focused on issues including Ukraine and Gaza, and international cooperation on artificial intelligence (AI).
  • The group also discussed migration, climate change and the energy transition, and economic security.
  • Pope Francis made a historic appearance at the summit, talking to world leaders about AI.

Every year, the leaders of the world’s seven largest economies meet to discuss economic and political issues at the Group of Seven, or G7, Summit.

These annual events – attended by Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK and the US – are organized and hosted by a different member each time. For 2024, Italy has the presidency, and its summit has just drawn to a close.

In a historic moment, Pope Francis became the first Pontiff to participate in the work of the G7. Leaders of other nations, including representatives from the European Union, the Ukrainian president, the prime minister of India and the King of Jordan were also present in Italy.

The war in Ukraine and the conflict in the Middle East were high on the agenda. Alongside, leaders discussed a wide range of global challenges. Here are some of the topics that were on the table.

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Regional affairs

In the presence of Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelenskiy, the G7 agreed on continued support for Ukraine.

This included making around $50 billion in loans available to help the country in its fight against Russia’s invasion. The money will come from the proceeds of Russian assets that have been frozen as a result of the war.

Leaders also agreed to endorse a deal outlined by US President Joe Biden that would lead to an “immediate ceasefire in Gaza”. They also called for a “significant and sustained” increase in humanitarian assistance.

Artificial intelligence

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Artificial intelligence (AI) grabbed many of the summit’s headlines due to the appearance of Pope Francis, who warned leaders that humans must not lose control of the technology.

He said that AI represented an “epochal transformation” for mankind, but underlined the need for close oversight to ensure human life and dignity are preserved.

Adverse outcomes of AI technologies are one of the top long-term risks facing the world, according to the 2024 World Economic Forum Global Risks Report.

Global risks ranked by severity over the short and long term
AI could bring new risks in the next 10 years. Image: World Economic Forum

The G7 affirmed the importance of creating international partnerships to ensure all people can access the benefits of AI, recognizing the need to make sure it enables increased productivity, empowers workers, and creates inclusiveness and equal opportunities. Leaders agreed to launch an action plan on using AI in the world of work, and to step up coordination towards a shared understanding of risk management and advance international standards for AI development and deployment.

The “crucial role” of resilient and reliable semiconductor supply chains in safe, secure and trustworthy AI was also noted at the summit, with the establishment of a Semiconductors G7 Point of Contact Group to help address issues impacting the semiconductor industry.

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Migration

The challenges and opportunities around migration were among the key themes on the G7 Italy agenda. The country lies on a major route into the EU for people fleeing conflict and poverty in Africa, the Middle East and Asia.

Leaders discussed how they could work with the countries migrants travel from to focus on the root causes of “irregular migration”, enhance border management, and tackle organized crime and people smuggling.

Involuntary migration, driven by factors including growing economic hardship, the impact of climate change, or conflict and political instability, is another of the top long-term risks outlined in the Forum’s Global Risks Report.

Economic security

There was a focus on preserving a “level playing field” in global trade – by building resilient economies and reduced supply chain dependencies, for example in sectors such as solar and wind, electric vehicles and steel and aluminium.

The G7 post-meeting communiqué said it recognizes the importance of countries such as China to global trade, and is de-risking and diversifying supply chains “where necessary and appropriate”.

The G7 committed to working together – ensuring its “toolkits to respond to harmful practices” are fit for purpose, for example – and protecting critical and sensitive technology so it cannot be used to undermine peace and security while avoiding broader restrictions on international trade and investment.

Leaders also pledged to build new partnerships with developing countries to increase their participation in global supply chains.

Energy, climate and the environment

The leaders reiterated their commitment to tackling climate change, pollution and biodiversity loss, while keeping a limit of 1.5°C global temperature rise “within reach”.

This includes working to meet commitments set at the COP28 climate change conference to triple renewable energy capacity and double global energy efficiency by 2030. According to the World Economic Forum’s latest Energy Transition Index, “a much speedier and more inclusive transition is still required to deliver a sustainable, secure and equitable energy future”.

Volatile period in the energy transition.
The global energy transition must be accelerated. Image: World Economic Forum

Discussions in Italy focused on energy transition issues such as phasing out unabated coal power generation – producing and using coal without interventions to reduce its emissions – during the first half of the 2030s; building clean and resilient supply chains; and recognizing nuclear and fusion energy’s potential as a zero-emissions energy source.

"We reaffirm that the transition to a net-zero economy by 2050 at the latest should be inclusive and leave no one behind, and should be an opportunity for enhancing social development and economic growth, maximizing positive benefits for local economies while addressing negative social or economic impacts that may arise from climate action," the G7 post-meeting statement said.

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Health and food security

Promoting health and food security was again on the agenda. Leaders joined Italy in launching the Apulia Food Systems Initiative, which aims to overcome structural barriers to food security and nutrition, and build resilient and sustainable agriculture systems.

Named after the region of Italy hosting the summit, the initiative seeks to ensure all people “can progressively realize the right to adequate food”, including by enhancing the sustainability and productivity of local, regional and global supply chains.

In health, leaders committed to take action on antimicrobial resistance (AMR), including through a high-level meeting on AMR at the United Nations General Assembly later this year. They also discussed measures to transform the financing of global health security and expand immunization coverage, through sustainable replenishment of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance launched at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos in 2000, among other initiatives.

Development

Talks also focused on the steps needed to help developing countries accelerate progress towards the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

This included a commitment from the G7 to work with organizations including the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank to help countries tackle mounting debt burdens that affect their abilities to make vital progress on SDGs.

There was also a focus on supporting Africa in achieving sustainable development and local value creation. This included the launch of the Energy for Growth in Africa initiative, which alongside African partners will work to help develop adequate clean energy infrastructure and supply chains on the continent.

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