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G7 Has Failed the Global South in Hiroshima

Adel Mansour takes his WFP food basket home on a cart in Abyan, Yemen. Credit: WFP/Ahmed Altaf

LONDON, May 22 2023 (IPS) - “G7 countries have failed the Global South here in Hiroshima. They failed to cancel debts, and they failed to find what is really required to end the huge increase in hunger worldwide. They can find untold billions to fight the war but can’t even provide half of what is needed by the UN for the most critical humanitarian crises.”

Hunger and debt

“If the G7 really want closer ties to the developing countries and greater backing for the war in Ukraine, then asking Global South leaders to fly across the world for a couple of hours is not going to cut it. They need to cancel debts and do what it takes to end hunger.

“Countries of the Global South are being crippled by a food and debt crisis of huge proportions. Hunger has increased faster than it has in decades, and all over the world. In East Africa two people are dying every minute from hunger. Countries are paying over $200 million a day to the G7 and their bankers, money they could spend feeding their people instead.

“The money they say they will provide for the world’s rapidly growing humanitarian crises is not even half of what the UN is asking for, and it is not clear what, if anything, is new or additional —and the G7 have a terrible track record on double counting and inflating figures each year.

“These food and debt crises are direct knock-on effects of the Ukraine war. If the G7 want support from the Global South, they need to be seen to take action on these issues —they must cancel debts and force private banks to participate in debt cancellation, and they must massively increase funding to end hunger and famine across the world.”

Adak Nyuol Bol stands outside her farm which has been submerged by floodwaters. South Sudan is on the frontlines of the climate crisis and currently experiencing a fourth consecutive year of flooding. Credit: World Food Programme (WFP)

Climate Change

“The G7 owes the Global South $8.7 trillion for the devastating losses and damages their excessive carbon emissions have caused. In the G7 Hiroshima communique they said they recognized that there is a new Loss and Damage fund, but they failed to commit a single cent.

“It is good they continue to recognize the need to meet 1.5 degrees, and stay committed to this despite the energy crisis driven by the war in Ukraine, but they try to blame everyone else —they are far off track themselves to contribute their fair share of what is needed to meet this target and they should have been on track years ago.

“They confirm their commitment to end public funding for fossil energy, they maintain their loophole on new fossil gas, using the war as an excuse. This means they have continued to wriggle out of their commitment to not publicly fund new fossil fuels, making a mockery of their fine statements. The G7 must stop using fossil fuels immediately —the planet is on fire.”


“The G7 had hundreds of fine words on preparing for the next pandemic, but yet failed to make the critical commitment —that never again would the G7 let Big Pharma profiteering and intellectual property rights lead to millions dying unnecessarily, unable to access vaccines. Given a 27 percent chance of a new pandemic within in a decade, this omission is chilling.”

More on debt, food and hunger

“Over half of all debt payments from the Global South are going to the G7 or to private banks based in G7 countries, notably New York and London. Over $230 million dollars a day is flowing into the G7.

Countries are bankrupt, spending far more on debt than on healthcare or food for their people. Debt payments have increased sharply as countries in the Global South borrow in dollars, so rising interest rates are supersizing the payments they must make.

“The G7 saying they support clauses to temporarily suspend debt payments for those countries hit by climate disasters is a positive step and a tribute to Barbados and Prime Minister Mia Mottley for fighting for this. They need to go further and cancel debts for all the nations that need it, a growing number daily.

Money is flooding from the Global South into the G7 economies —that is the wrong direction.”

Max Lawson is Oxfam International’s Head of Inequality Policy.

Footnote: The UNOCHA’s current total requirement for humanitarian crises is nearly $56 billion. The G7 communique says they will commit to providing over $21 billion to address the worsening humanitarian crises this year (paragraph 16).

IPS UN Bureau


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