What Is the G7 and How Can It Help Us Fight Famine?

World Food Program USA
June 9, 2021

To reach zero hunger and prevent famine, we need a global commitment to providing safe access to nutritious food. Steps must also be taken to address the issues driving hunger today: conflict, climate change, gender inequality, food waste and COVID-19.  

The G7 forum is a space for world leaders to come together, discuss policies and roll out solutions for issues like global hunger. 

What Is the G7?

G7 stands for “Group of Seven” and is an annual summit that convenes leaders from the world’s seven wealthiest countries: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States. The leaders of four non-G7 member countries — India, Australia, South Africa and South Korea — have also been invited as special attendees.

Political leaders from the G7 member states have met annually since 1975 to discuss and negotiate policy on the world stage. The 2021 meeting will be hosted by the United Kingdom in Cornwall and begins this Friday, June 11.

women in covid health masks
Photo: WFP/Damilola Onafuwa

“When leaders of the G7 members gather in the United Kingdom for their first in-person summit in two years, their responsibility to lead the global effort to combat the clear and present danger of famine should be uppermost in their minds,” said United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley this week.

Decisions made at G7 meetings are not legally binding. Instead, they are unified decisions by world leaders to chart a new path forward on issues including the economy, international development, gender equality and climate change.

What’s on the Agenda?

Recovery from COVID-19 is expected to be at the forefront of policy discussions, as is climate change. In fact, world leaders will reconvene a second time this November for the United Nations Climate Change Conference.

In a recent briefing, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said President Biden will focus on public health, economic recovery and climate change while reinforcing “our commitment to multilateralism.”

What Can the G7 Do About Famine?

1) Shine a Global Spotlight

The 2021 G7 summit comes at a critical time for global hunger policy. COVID-19 reversed years of progress and caused the number of people at risk of being severely hungry to double. Today, four countries and 34 million people are teetering on the edge of famine.

young girl in mother's arms
Photo: WFP/Damilola Onafuwa

“Famine has no place in the 21st century. In partnership with the G7 leaders, we still have a chance to banish it to the history books. But we have no more time to lose,” said U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley.

World leaders have taken the first step in addressing the looming threat of famine by planning a Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Crisis Panel during the G7 summit. These discussions will likely focus on the root causes of hunger.

Learn about what famine is and how to prevent it.

For example, even with the arrival of COVID-19, conflict is still the primary driver of hunger today. G7 leaders have the power to help end violent conflict in places like northern Nigeria, where 1.9 million people have been displaced from their homes and 8.6 million are hungry.

2) Call for Funding and Resources

COVID-19 simultaneously caused a dramatic rise in hunger and dramatic cuts in funding for humanitarian aid. Currently, the United Nations’ flagship response to COVID-19 is short 60% of its funding requirements and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) alone is facing a $5 billion shortfall.

WFP helicopter taking off
Photo: WFP/Esther Ouoba

Because of funding shortfalls, humanitarian aid agencies have fewer resources to meet the staggering needs of the world’s most vulnerable people.

Together, the G7 member states make up nearly 50 percent of the global economy and could help close the widening gap between humanitarian needs and funding.

For the U.N. World Food Programme, closing the funding gap could fully prevent famine in 2021 by allowing us to scale up:

  • Emergency food assistance to the 34 million people on the edge of famine
  • Nutrition support to 10.3 million children under five and 6.4 million pregnant and breastfeeding women who are malnourished
  • The reach of our supply chain capabilities to move huge quantities of food to the world’s hardest to reach places
grandmother eating with young girl
Photo: WFP/Al Bara Mansour

“Decisions made by G7 leaders in Cornwall will likely have life-or-death consequences for people already suffering from hunger and food insecurity,” said International Rescue Committee President and CEO David Miliband in May of this year.

3) Honor a Past Pledge

In 2015, member states pledged to “lift 500 million people in developing countries out of hunger and malnutrition by 2030.”

Six years later, this pledge remains unfulfilled. Now, at a critical crossroads for global hunger, the G7 leaders have an opportunity to revisit their commitment and follow through on their 2015 pledge.

The most powerful tool we have to prevent famine is emergency food assistance. World leaders have a chance at this year’s G7 summit to use their united voices on the world stage to call for the funding, resources and policies needed to save millions of lives.

Want to learn more? Visit our famine hub to see how we’re working to fight famine and reach zero hunger.