Just as G7 hosts, Germany, and its European counterparts benefited from Marshall Plan investment after the second world war, the richest countries must now support global recovery by investing in four key areas.
When President of South Africa, Cyril Ramaphosa and the Chairperson of the African Union (AU), president of Senegal, Macky Sall, attend the G7 Summit in Germany this weekend, there is one thing that they must make clear to president Biden, Chancellor Scholz, et al, in relation to the one topic that will no doubt dominate all others during the talks. It is that whilst we empathise greatly with the victims of Russia's bloody invasion of Ukraine, this also has serious global implications. To date, African voices articulating this impact on African people have not been sufficiently heard or met with meaningful action.
Outside of Ukraine, it is the countries and communities across Africa and the global South that are being hit hardest by the conflict.
Over 100 countries are now at greater risk due to food, energy and financial instability, and these risks will only increase as a global recession looms. Just as G7 hosts Germany and its European counterparts benefited from Marshall Plan investment after the second world war, the richest countries must now support global recovery by investing in four key areas.
Firstly, food and nutrition to stave off a hunger and nutrition crisis that is fueling famine, instability, and further conflict.
In line with the AU's theme of the year, "The Year of Nutrition: Strengthening Resilience in Nutrition and Food Security on the African Continent", the task of the two African Heads of State must be to compel the G7 to urgently inject scaled-up funding to prevent malnutrition and save lives in import-dependent, drought-ridden and conflict-affected countries across Africa and the global South.
Secondly, they need to ensure equitable healthcare and vaccine coverage.
At last year's G7 summit, African leaders asked for solidarity in our battle against Covid-19. Yet, one year on, only half of the vaccine doses promised have been delivered, and those that have arrived have often come late, all at once in unmanageable bulk, and close to their expiry date. The hoarding of the next generation of vaccines and treatments has already begun.
We need more than "warm words" from G7 leaders this year. We need concrete action and binding pledges and tangible support.
Thirdly, we need a just climate transition to mitigate the effects of the climate crisis.
South Africa and its partners, including Germany, are often being praised for the (first of hopefully many) Just Energy Transition partnerships towards a fossil-free global economy. Yet, as the historically largest emitters, the G7 countries must do more to help the Global South deal with climate-induced losses and damage. They must commit significant additional funding, including through the Global Shield against climate risks proposed by the German G7 presidency.
They must also resist the temptation to simply respond to the global fuel shocks caused by the conflict in Ukraine by striking new deals to hoard fossil fuels from other sources — including countries with human rights records as questionable as those they condemn in Putin's Russia. They must use this moment to pivot to renewables.
Finally, the G7 must step up its economic support to release unfair pressure on stifled economies at a time of looming stagflation.
Global growth prospects have almost halved since last year according to both the World Bank and the IMF, and countries like South Africa, facing surging food and fuel prices, are experiencing huge additional fiscal pressure. The G7 needs to act with urgency to deliver the economic and fiscal support that has been promised, including making good on their promise to recycle at least $100bn in Special Drawing Rights to support additional financing.
The G7 has responded quickly to support Ukraine in its time of need. Presidents Ramaphosa and Sall must make it clear that now is the time to share this support with others affected by the conflict.
The AU theme of the year is in itself, a critical message to the G7 countries. As we focus on "strengthening resilience in nutrition and food security on the African continent", and as we aspire to strengthen agro-food systems, health and social protection systems for the acceleration of human, social and economic capital development, G7 action on these four fundamental areas of global recovery and support is critical.
The right message from both African leaders, received and acted on by their G7 counterparts, could signal the start of a new era of solidarity between the Global North and the Global South — one that paves the way to better long-term cooperation on international security and conflict-prevention, and begins a global transition to a fairer, greener world for all. DM/MC
This Op-Ed was originally published by The Daily Maverick.