The overlapping circles of international connection are this year being given added significance by the fact that in 2018 the presidency of the G7 is held by a Commonwealth country, and that a member of the G7 becomes chair in office of the Commonwealth. Indeed, the 2018 G7 meeting convenes in Canada little more than six weeks after the hosting by the United Kingdom of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, commonly known as CHOGM.
The congruence of the themes for the two gatherings is just as striking, and shows how the synergy and influence of Commonwealth countries working together extends beyond the boundaries of our membership, accelerating progress and bringing benefits that are truly
global in impact.
The areas of focus chosen by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau for the G7 meeting in Charlevoix on 8–9 June are investing in growth that works for everyone; preparing for jobs of the future; advancing gender equality and women’s empowerment; working together on climate change, oceans and clean energy; and building a more peaceful and secure world.
The theme for CHOGM, held in London and Windsor on 19–20 April, was ‘Towards a Common Future’, with the particular priorities of a more sustainable future, a fairer future, a more secure future and a more prosperous future.
The close correlation between the ambition for collective action by members of the Commonwealth and those of the G7 is clearly seen in the adoption at CHOGM of the Commonwealth Blue Charter. It sets out the principles by which Commonwealth members will lead international efforts by sustainably developing and protecting their ocean, and heads of government have mandated the Commonwealth Secretariat to take this forward with an action-orientated delivery programme.
This meshes with the commitment by Canada to work together within the G7 context on climate change, oceans and clean energy, including by hosting domestic and international discussions specifically focusing on advancing ocean priorities. These will bring together experts to discuss challenges and opportunities both domestically and internationally, to move towards zero plastic waste and mitigating marine plastic litter, including microplastics.
At CHOGM, grave concern was expressed that without urgent action to mitigate climate change, reduce vulnerability and increase resilience, the impacts of climate change could push an additional 100 million people into poverty by 2030. Heads recognised that temperature and sea level rise and other adverse impacts of climate change are a significant reality and risk to many of the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable member countries. They renewed their commitment under the Paris Agreement to keep the increase in global average temperature to well below 2°C above pre-industrial levels, and pursue efforts to limit the temperature increase to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels. Canada, both as a member of the Commonwealth, and with its G7 partners, acknowledges the urgent need to accelerate the transition towards a sustainable, resilient, low-carbon future.
the voice of small states
Commonwealth commitment to inclusiveness means we have special concern for the needs of smaller countries, and those with economies at stages of development that render them less resilient to sudden economic shocks – whether these result from global market crises, extreme weather or natural disaster. Indeed, the Commonwealth collectively is recognised as being the voice of small states, and Canada and the United Kingdom will carry forward this advocacy to the G7. We seek always to be receptive and responsive to the needs of all – especially the young, the marginalised and the vulnerable.
In a G7 public engagement paper on economic cooperation, Canada emphasises the need for the benefits of economic growth to be shared by everyone, and how this means championing innovative and gender-responsive solutions to address common challenges such as growing inequality, the changing nature of work and persistent poverty. This reflects our Commonwealth understanding that when women and girls are given equal opportunities to succeed, they can be powerful agents of change, driving stronger economic growth, encouraging greater peace and cooperation and improving the quality of life for their communities.
So by ensuring that gender equality and gender-based analysis are integrated across all themes, activities and outcomes of its G7 presidency, Canada is carrying forward the commitment made by Commonwealth heads of government in the 2018 CHOGM communiqué, to implement legislation, policies and programmes that mainstream and promote gender equality and the empowerment of all women and girls in social, economic and political life.
There has seldom been a time when the dynamic of international connection has been more needed, whether among the advanced economies of the G7 or within the broader and vastly more diverse context of our Commonwealth members. Working as members of both groupings, Canada and the United Kingdom have the special responsibility and privilege of ensuring that, within our globalised and interdependent world, the needs and concerns of our smaller and more vulnerable Commonwealth countries are given consideration when leaders of the powerful G7 meet.