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G7 Summit Commitments from Rambouillet 1975 to Charlevoix 2018

John Kirton and Brittaney Warren, G7 Research Group
January 15, 2018

On June 8-9, 2018, in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau will host the 44th annual G7 summit, and Canada's sixth. Canada has defined an agenda centred on the five priorities of

Given the urgent challenges facing the global community in these areas, many hope that Canada's Charlevoix Summit will go beyond merely discussing these priorities and setting principled and normative directions on them to making precise, future-oriented, politically obligatory commitments that all members will comply with.

Yet how well do the prospective commitments at Charlevoix match those the G7 has made in the past? The short answer is reasonably well.

Since its start at Rambouillet, France, in November 1975 through to the Taormina Summit in Italy in May 2017, the annual G7 summits made 5,188 collective commitments (see Appendix A). This shows that the G7 summit is no mere photo-op, talk shop or global hot tub party, as many casual observers sometimes charge. Rather, the G7 is a group that makes many, often difficult, decisions, on the central issues that the global community confronts.

These 5,188 commitments span a very broad agenda, including the economic, sustainable development and security domains. Indeed, there are 33 different policy areas in which G7 summits have acted, including those long thought to be carefully guarded within the members' sovereign states (see Appendix B: 1975-1981, Appendix C: 1982-1988, Appendix D: 1989-1995, Appendix E: 1996-2002, Appendix F: 2003-2010, Appendix G: 2011-2017).

Somewhat surprisingly, North-South development ranks first among these policy areas with 669 commitments, or 14%. This suggests that the G7 not only governs itself, but also seeks to do so for those countries that lie outside of the G7 club, including the poorest among them. Some observers might wonder why development in its own right is not among the five priorities for Charlevoix. Many will thus want to see how well development is mainstreamed throughout the five.

Energy ranks second, with 433 commitments or 8%. The momentum catalyzed by the energy crises of the 1970s, which helped create the G7, has continued, and has since been joined by the challenge of creating a clean energy future. This ranking may also reflect the fact that the world has yet to solve the climate change problem caused by dirty energy production and consumption, and by continuing fossil fuel subsidies from many world governments. The Charlevoix Summit seeks to build on the priority past summits have placed on energy, with an emphasis on clean energy.

Health stands third with 403 commitments or 8%. Here the G7 leaders work directly for people by helping the World Health Organization promote better, healthier, longer lives. The G7's emphasis has expanded to focus on HIV/AIDS, maternal, newborn and child health, and, most recently antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and mental health. With AMR and mental health issues on the rise, health is likely to appear among Charlevoix's commitments in some form.

Terrorism ranks fourth with 372 commitments or 7%. This shows that the G7 summit is a global security governor, countering the non-state threats that citizens in some G7 members fear the most. It is likely to take pride of place under Charlevoix's peace and security priority.

Trade stands fifth with 333 commitments or 6%. At a time when populist and protectionist pressures are rising in some key G7 members, and with the World Trade Organization failing to counter those pressures at its ministerial conference last December, Charlevoix will likely — in spite of citizens' criticism of mega-free trade deals — include trade as a way to encourage inclusive economic growth.

Climate change ranks sixth with 315 commitments or 6%. Since its pioneering start in 1979 the G7 has made an important contribution, including with its first commitment in 1985. Moreover, if the G7's climate change and related energy commitments are combined, their total of 748 would vault them into first place, well above their fourth-placed location on the Charlevoix priority list. Such a combination would assume that the climate change and energy commitments are synergistically working in the same direction to enhance ecological quality.

Macroeconomic policy, traditionally at the core of generating economic growth, comes only in ninth place with 259 commitments or 5%. With G7 and global growth now expanding, Charlevoix will focus appropriately on ensuring that this growth benefits all.

One of the ways it will do so will be by promoting gender equality. Indeed, although gender is a stand-alone priority among five, it will be mainstreamed throughout each priority area. This suggests that the number of gender commitments made will be given a boost, thus raising gender up from its current 13th place and 132 commitments.

Thus, so far, Charlevoix priorities match the subjects of past G7 summit promises reasonably well. Charlevoix's challenge will be to have its six priorities work together in a mutually reinforcing way, and to address many of the other issues where the G7 summit has performed well in the past.

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Appendix A: Total Commitments from 1975 to 2017

  Total
Development 669
Energy 433
Health 403
Terrorism 372
Trade 333
Climate change 315
Nonproliferation 308
Crime and corruption 288
Macroeconomic policy 259
Food and agriculture 252
Regional security 210
Environment 187
Gender 132
Financial regulation 121
Education 95
Information and communication technology 88
Labour and employment 75
Democracy 68
Human rights 65
Good governance 61
Nuclear safety 59
Peace and security 53
Accountability 51
East-West relations (Russia) 51
Drugs 43
International cooperation 42
Reform of United Nations/international financial institutions 37
Transparency 27
Conflict prevention 26
Microeconomic policy 21
Social policy 20
Migration and refugees 16
Infrastructure 8
Total 5,188

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Appendix B: Commitments from 1975 to 1981

  1975
Rambouillet
1976
San Juan
1977
London
1978
Bonn
1979
Tokyo
1980
Venice
1981
Montebello
Development 4 1 13 6 7 4 9
Energy 3 4 9 18 21 25 8
Health              
Terrorism       3   5 7
Trade 2 2 21 6 3 6 6
Climate change              
Nonproliferation              
Crime and corruption              
Macroeconomic policy 2 3 8 14 1 8 5
Food and agriculture         2 2 1
Regional security           4 1
Environment              
Gender              
Financial regulation 1            
Education              
Information and communications technology              
Labour and employment 1   1 3      
Democracy              
Human rights              
Good governance              
Nuclear safety              
Peace and security              
Accountability     1        
East-West relations (Russia)             2
Drugs              
International cooperation 2            
Reform of United Nations/international financial institutions     2     1  
Transparency              
Conflict prevention              
Microeconomic policy              
Social policy              
Migration and refugees             1
Infrastructure              
Total 15 10 55 50 34 55 40

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Appendix C: Commitments from 1982-1988

  1982
Versailles
1983
Williamsburg
1984
London
1985
Bonn
1986
Tokyo
1987
Venice
1988
Toronto
Development 3 9 13 3 8 4 5
Energy 1 2          
Health              
Terrorism     5   14 13 2
Trade 7 6 4   3 5 6
Climate change       1      
Nonproliferation   2     1 2 2
Crime and corruption              
Macroeconomic policy 9 11 2 7 6 17 1
Food and agriculture       4 1 4 1
Regional security     1       5
Environment     1 2   3  
Gender              
Financial regulation             1
Education              
Information and communications technology   1          
Labour and employment   4 5 2      
Democracy              
Human rights             1
Good governance              
Nuclear safety         1    
Peace and security   2          
Accountability         2    
East-West relations (Russia) 4 1     1 3  
Drugs         1 1 1
International cooperation              
Reform of United Nations/international financial institutions       1      
Transparency              
Conflict prevention              
Microeconomic policy       5     2
Social policy              
Migration and refugees              
Infrastructure              
Total 24 38 31 25 38 52 27

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Appendix D: Commitments from 1989-1995

  1989
Paris
1990
Houston
1991
London
1992
Munich
1993
Tokyo
1994
Naples
1995
Halifax
Development 12 12 1 4 8 6 14
Energy     3        
Health              
Terrorism 9 7   1   1 2
Trade 6 10 9   5 6 11
Climate change 4 9 3 2   2 1
Nonproliferation 1 4 12 6   2 4
Crime and corruption           3 4
Macroeconomic policy 6   3 4 5 3 4
Food and agriculture              
Regional security 2       5 5 2
Environment 7 17 11 7 3 3 3
Gender              
Financial regulation             1
Education              
Information and communications technology     1 1   1  
Labour and employment     1     4  
Democracy   10 8 3   1 1
Human rights 3         2 5
Good governance              
Nuclear safety       11 1 5 3
Peace and security             2
Accountability         1 3 2
East-West relations (Russia)   3       3  
Drugs 11 6       1  
International cooperation             3
Reform of United Nations/international financial institutions             11
Transparency              
Conflict prevention              
Microeconomic policy         1 2  
Social policy             2
Migration and refugees       2     1
Infrastructure     1        
Total 61 78 53 41 29 53 77

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Appendix E: Total Commitments from 1996 to 2002

  1996
Lyon
1997
Denver
1998
Birmingham
1999
Cologne
2000
Okinawa
2001
Genoa
2002
Kananaskis
Development 23 19 7 8 19 10 34
Energy   1 2   1 2  
Health 3 4 4 3 14 3 18
Terrorism 7 13     4   20
Trade 10 6 9 7 4 4 10
Climate change 2 4 7 2 1 5 4
Nonproliferation 5 9 7 3 7   23
Crime and corruption 12 21 9 1 14 5 6
Macroeconomic policy 8 7 1   1 1 1
Food and agriculture         3 2 16
Regional security 6 2 2     2 19
Environment 4 15 4 4 9 2  
Gender             2
Financial regulation 11 9 2   5 3 3
Education     2   1 5 12
Information and communications technology 3   3 2 4 4 6
Labour and employment 6   2 5   1  
Democracy 2 7 3 2   5 4
Human rights 5 2 1 1   1 3
Good governance              
Nuclear safety 6 4 3 4 2    
Peace and security   6          
Accountability 2   1       3
East-West relations (Russia)   2   2      
Drugs 3 5 1 2 7 1 1
International cooperation     1   2 2 1
Reform of United Nations/international financial institutions 8 5     1    
Transparency              
Conflict prevention              
Microeconomic policy     1       1
Social policy 1 3 1   6    
Migration and refugees 1 1          
Infrastructure              
Total 128 145 73 46 105 58 187

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Appendix F: Total Commitments from 2003-2010

  2003
Evian
2004
Sea Island
2005
Gleneagles
2006
St. Petersburg
2007
Heiligendamm
2008
Hokkaido-Toyako
2009
L'Aquila
2010
Muskoka
Development 24 53 21 31 48 35 36 4
Energy 14   57 78 41 27 28 1
Health 16 10 11 60 42 19 9 12
Terrorism 36 33 14 23 29 12 4 13
Trade 8 3 15 8 6 12 9 4
Climate change 1 1 21 20 34 55 42 10
Nonproliferation 26 26 15 18 28 20 7 7
Crime and corruption 17 16 18 23 28 5 12  
Macroeconomic policy 6 1 4   11 6 15  
Food and agriculture 16 49 3 1 1 27 20 2
Regional security   4 12 2 20 17 9 12
Environment 31 7 4 5 5 11 8 2
Gender         2      
Financial regulation 2   1     7 15  
Education   14 2 36 5 9 2  
Information and communications technology 3     2   4 3  
Labour and employment 1 1     3      
Democracy 1 6 5          
Human rights   1 5   1 3    
Good governance       1 9 5 11 3
Nuclear safety         5 3   1
Peace and security   12            
Accountability 1   2   3   3 2
East-West relations (Russia)                
Drugs   1     1      
International cooperation 1 6   4 6 1 3  
Reform of United Nations/international financial institutions           1 4  
Transparency       3        
Conflict prevention       2   12 11  
Microeconomic policy           5 1  
Social policy 1     1 1   2  
Migration and refugees   8            
Infrastructure 1 1 2          
Total 206 253 212 317 329 296 254 73

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Appendix G: Total Commitments from 2011 to 2017

  2011
Deauville
2012
Camp David
2013
Lough Erne
2014
Brussels
2015
Elmau
2016
Ise-Shima
2017
Taormina
Development 29 16 10 22 43 23 2
Energy 2 23   20 20 16 6
Health 7 1 2 12 61 85 7
Terrorism 8 2   4 5 31 45
Trade 14 9 24 12 14 10 11
Climate change 6 5 24 13 23 12 1
Nonproliferation 44 15   1 7 3 1
Crime and corruption 6 30 10 13 1 33 1
Macroeconomic policy 11 11 16 3 14 18 5
Food and agriculture 4 6 14 4 55 4 10
Regional security 7   32 5 17 7 10
Environment 10       11    
Gender         25 34 69
Financial regulation   1 29 8 17 5  
Education 4 1         2
Information and communication technology 5   18     23 5
Labour and employment   2 3   24 5 1
Democracy         9 1  
Human rights 4 4   8 8 5 2
Good governance 17 4 6 3   2  
Nuclear safety 2   2   1 5  
Peace and security       8 10 13  
Accountability 11 2 3   5 4  
East-West relations (Russia)              
Drugs              
International cooperation   7   1 2    
Reform of United Nations/international financial institutions   2       1  
Transparency     21 3      
Conflict prevention       1      
Microeconomic policy         3    
Social policy 2            
Migration and refugees             2
Infrastructure         1 2  
Total 193 141 214 141 376 342 180

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