G7 leaders must take urgent action on poverty and inequality

Published: 17th May 2022

Up to a quarter of a billion people are at risk of falling into extreme poverty this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, climate crisis and the crisis in Ukraine. Global inequality threatens to rise massively unless more is done to effectively address this situation.

The G7, and especially the host German government, must introduce substantial counter measures at the upcoming minister meetings for finance, development, and health, taking place this week – May 18-20. 

Oxfam is calling for debt relief and increased development spending. In order to end the pandemic, it says patents on COVID-19 vaccines and drugs must be waived. The G7 must also deliver on their commitments to mitigate the climate crisis in the Global South. 

Tobias Hauschild, Head of Social Justice at Oxfam Germany, says: "The pandemic and climate crisis have exacerbated the already dramatic inequality worldwide. This is now compounded by the crisis in Ukraine, the effects of which is making basic food products almost unaffordable in some countries. The G7 countries must keep and extend their commitments if they are not to completely lose their credibility."

Relief for low-income countries

Debt relief is vital for low-income countries. The world's poorest countries must repay $43 billion in debt this year, and many are on the verge of default and even forced to suspend food imports. All G7 countries must finally meet their targets of investing 0.7 percent of gross national income in development. Germany, for example, faces significant cuts in development spending from 2023. 

Vaccine equity

Only 17 percent of people living in Africa has received even basic immunization, while rich countries are deep into their booster programs. To ensure that all people have equitable access to COVID-19 technologies, G7 countries should explore all options to diversify the production and supply of vaccines and therapeutics. They must also support the TRIPS waiver submitted by South Africa and India to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2020, which is being blocked by the German federal government and a few other wealthy nations, even though more than 100 countries support it. The EU's new draft now under discussion would bring little improvement because it excludes medicines and diagnostics and would bring no legal certainty. To ensure that local production of vaccines can begin as soon as possible, G7 governments must also advocate for immediate technology transfer and provide greater financial support for the WHO's mRNA hub.

Tackling the climate crisis

In 2009, at the UN Climate Summit in Copenhagen, the main-polluting industrialized nations committed to increase their support for climate action in low-income countries to $100 billion annually by 2020. This target has not been met and there is little sign that it will be in the near future. Germany’s support is not expected to increase in the coming years, according to the German finance minister's plans, contrary to its 2021 pledge. In addition, wealthy countries have refused to deal with the destruction already caused by climate change, partly out of fear of compensation claims. The G7 countries are now discussing a "Global Climate Risk Shield" of expanded early-warning systems and climate risk insurance. This initiative should not place an additional burden on those affected countries, for example through premium payments for storm insurance.

Contact information

Steffen Küssner in Germany I skuessner@oxfam.de I +49 30 45 30 69 710

Florence Ogola in Nairobi I  Florence.Ogola@oxfam.org I +254 733770522 /+254 715115042

For updates, please follow @NewsFromOxfam and @Oxfam 

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