The UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Minister, Dominic Raab, chaired a meeting of the G7’s foreign and development ministers last week on May 3-4, 2021, in London. The UK government also invited government representatives from India, Australia, South Korea, and the Chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), reflecting the UK’s foreign policy goal of leaning in more to the Indo-Pacific region's growing strategic importance. Representatives from South Africa were also guests.
The G7 ministers agreed to defend democracy, increase funding to the COVAX Facility to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, provide funding for countries facing famine, and step up their efforts to help partner countries become more resilient to the impacts of the climate crisis.
On upholding democracy and human rights, the G7 foreign and development ministers agreed to:
- Uphold media freedom around the world, including by increasing funding to the Global Media Defence Fund;
- Bolster their response to threats to democracy, including through a new North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) partnership aimed specifically at tackling threats such as vaccine disinformation; and
- Support the new Canadian-driven action plan on tackling arbitrary detention.
On ensuring equitable access to the COVID-19 vaccines, the ministers:
- Endorsed the COVAX Facility as a primary way for countries to share vaccines globally;
- Agreed to increase funding to the Facility, though no specific pledges of increased funding were announced; and
- Committed to working toward expanding manufacturing for affordable COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics.
On addressing famines, the ministers:
- Agreed to provide £5.0 billion (US$6.7 billion) in humanitarian assistance to those countries facing famine, including Yemen, South Sudan, and Nigeria; and
- Committed their support for the World Bank and UN on preparedness and early action to prevent famines.
On addressing the climate crisis, the ministers:
- Agreed to do more to help low-income countries build resilience to the impacts of climate change and improve planning and response to climate-related disasters; and
- Welcomed the role of the private sector in supporting climate resilience.
These agreements came in addition to the ministers' commitments to enhance girls’ education and women’s economic empowerment.