On Friday May 26 and Saturday May 27th, the leaders of the G7 countries will gather in Taormina Italy. It will be their first in person meeting with this group for four of the seven leaders. The world will watch as the tone is set for the collaboration of nations as the leaders negotiate to reach an agreement with the publication of the Final Communique.
What is the G7?
The G7 is a forum for dialogue at the highest level attended by leaders from some of the most industrialized economies. The G7 countries; Canada, France, United States, Great Britain, Germany, Japan and Italy, represent 10.3% of the world’s population (World Bank, 2015) and 32.3% of the world’s GDP (OCED, 2015). The European Union (EU) attends the G7 but does not chair or host Summits.
Each year, the Presidency of the G7 is held by one of the member countries, rotating annually. Canada will host the G7 Presidency in 2018, directing the mission and focus for the summit and all additional programming (ministerial meetings, working groups and global dialogues).
Italy currently holds the G7 2017 Presidency and has directed the focus of this year’s efforts towards the overarching mission to ‘build on the foundations of renewed trust’. As citizens are becoming increasingly skeptical of their government’s ability to deliver on issues, the Italian Presidency is urging governments to adopt policies aimed at meeting their citizens’ expectations.
This year’s summit has three main pillars of focus ; Citizen Safety, Economic, Environmental and Social Sustainability, and the Reduction of Inequalities, and Innovation, Skills and Labour in the age of the Next Production Revolution.
Youth G7 Summit (Y7)
Delegates from the G7 countries (as well as the EU) under the age of 27 were invited to represent the youth of their jurisdictions and negotiate a Final Communique to be shared with their leaders prior to each G7 Summit. This event is known as the Youth Summit (Y7).
The motivation of the Y7 is to provide actionable and specific recommendations for G7 leaders, reflecting the perspective and priorities of the next generation of leaders.
Italy is currently struggling with a high rate of youth unemployment (40.3%, more than double the OCED average of 14%), (OCED, 2017). As manufacturing is a key driver of the national GDP (~ 15.4%, World Bank 2017) and a sector at high risk of automation, considering the future of work and looking to labour policies from a youth perspective were important to the G7 Presidency.
The entire G7 Youth Summit (held in Rome, May 9-11) was focused on the final pillar, “Innovation, Skills and Labour in the age of the Next Production Revolution”. The key priority areas were Production Innovation, Knowledge-Based Capital and Enabling Infrastructure and The Future of Work and of Welfare Systems.
The diversity of approaches G7 countries take to encouraging a supportive ‘climate for innovation’ led to several engaging discussions. The challenge of combatting the negative externalities of technology’s increased influence in the workforce and lives of citizens cannot be ignored. On this point, all delegations aligned on the necessity to craft and implement complementary and forward-looking policies.
Canada’s role in the Y7
Canada currently purports to have an innovation-friendly political climate (as seen with “innovation” being mentioned 262 times in the 2017 Canadian Federal Budget). Many recommendations, such as investing in STEM education and computer science, as well as investing in new businesses and supporting female entrepreneurs, has been included in the national budget.
That said, there are many areas of improvement as well as opportunities for Canada to lead. For example, the government should provide assistance for individuals looking to update their skill sets by offering retraining programs, and support shifts in the labour market through adjusting employment insurance (EI) eligibility requirements. In addition, to address growing inequality, which is likely to be exacerbated by increases in automation, implementing new taxation models to strengthen social benefits to achieve more inclusive growth.
It is also important to note that this year’s Y7 was a monumental first - Canada sent its first Indigenous delegate to represent the perspective of the Indigenous youth across Canada at this global advocacy event. First Nations are playing an increasingly impactful role within the international arena, particularly now as the world faces pressing issues such as environmental degradation. Now more than ever, the voice of Indigenous peoples is important. Recognition at the international level is a step in the direction to recognize the right to nationhood, sovereignty, and self determination, many which are guaranteed by treaties. The continued participation at the international level by indigenous peoples can strengthen bonds and move towards correcting the historical wrongdoings of colonization.
Global leaders are seriously considering the implications of the New Production Revolution, and looking for solutions to the challenges facing current and future generations. International diplomacy, standards and national policies are incredibly complex to establish and implement, but it’s important to note the work many are doing to help usher our populations into this new era with as little friction as possible.
The entire Y7 Communique can be found here
Looking to get involved?
The Canadian Delegation to the Y7 was selected and supported by the Young Diplomats of Canada (YDC). For more information, take a look at our website.