The Impact of the 2018 G7 Charlevoix Summit Outreach Sessions
on Development in Africa
Sonja Dobson, G7 Research Group
March 17, 2019
At the 2018 G7 summit in Charlevoix, Canadian prime minister and host Justin Trudeau continued the tradition of inviting countries outside the G7 to attend in order to broaden the discussion. The guest list was twice the size of that at the 2017 Taormina Summit, where six guests came from the African continent. In 2018, five of the 12 invited came from Africa and the other guests came from every inhabited continent except Australasia, making it a much more diverse group. The five African countries that attended Charlevoix were Kenya, Rwanda, Senegal, Seychelles and South Africa. Often the outreach guests come from developing countries; however, Trudeau expanded the discussion by sending invitations to developing and developed countries, including Norway.
The topic for the outreach session at Charlevoix, where the G7 members spoke with the invited leaders, was oceans and their role in supporting economies, as well as the role of maritime resources. The G7 held the meeting on "Outreach on Healthy, Productive and Resilient Oceans and Seas, Coasts and Communities" on the second day of the summit, June 9, 2018. President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, President Macky Sall of Senegal, President Uhuru Kenyatta of Kenya, President Danny Faure of Seychelles and President Paul Kagame of Rwanda participated.
Kenyatta spoke about illegal sea fishing in African waters and pushed for the G7 to take action against the unlawful activity. He stated that "every one in five fish eaten in a Western capital is likely stolen from African waters" and that illegal sea fishing damages the Kenyan economy. Faure's speech was accompanied by "shocking" photographs of the damage caused by marine debris to the Seychelles' UNESCO world heritage site Aldabra. He asked the G7 to agree to a resilience index that would acknowledge the susceptibilities of small island developing states to external influences, because financial assistance alone is not enough for these countries to meet international development and climate change goals. Kagame's topic was more overarching. He concentrated on how new innovations can be useful in the fight against climate change and how the world can integrate Rwanda's effective strategy in banning plastic bags to fight plastic pollution in oceans. Kagame suggested focusing on informing citizens of the harms of plastic pollution and how their behaviour can have an impact, and also on working with businesses to find alternatives to plastic products. Rwanda has replaced plastic bags with biodegradable envelopes.
The outreach session not only allowed individual leaders outside the G7 to have the opportunity to be heard but also gave them the opportunity to engage with one another on other matters. Kenyatta was able to meet with the CEO of the World Bank to talk about its projects in Kenya and the current funding initiatives. He also spoke with Ramaphosa about immigration, and met with Sall to discuss a Kenyan embassy in Senegal and Prime Minister Andrew Holness of Jamaica to discuss bilateral relations.
The direct outcomes of the outreach session included the Charlevoix Blueprint for Healthy Oceans, Seas and Resilient Coastal Communities. It seeks to "promote sustainable oceans and fisheries, support resilient coasts and coastal communities, and take action on ocean plastic waste and marine litter." Canada pledged to invest CAD162 million to preserve the oceans and CAD100 million to clean up the oceans.
The importance of outreach sessions at the G7 summit is for other countries to share information with the G7 on certain issues. The focus in 2018 was on healthy oceans, seas and coasts, which have an impact on food sources, jobs and economies of many countries around the world. Canada stated its commitment to "working with others in the G7 and beyond to strengthen resilience, fight climate change, and protect our oceans for generations to come." It is vital to work with not only the wealthy members of the G7, but countries across the globe to protect the oceans and protect growing economies. The significance of working closely with African countries was not lost with the transfer of G7 presidency to France on January 1, 2019. The French presidency will continue to focus on strengthening ties with Africa, particularly through the fight for climate action.
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Sonja Dobson is in her final year of a bachelor of arts in African studies and political science at the University of Toronto. She has been an analyst with the G7 Research Group since 2016.
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