G7 performance on development
G7 Summit

G7 performance on development

As host of this year’s G7 summit, Italy is prioritising engagement with Africa. But with historically low compliance on its development commitments, Italy needs to ensure the promises made are achievable for all

Italy’s G7 presidency is prioritising engagement with Africa, and focusing on relationships with developing countries and emerging economies. As peace has declined globally for the 13th year, the G7 must safeguard the development of all countries to ensure stability. 


Since 1975, G7 leaders have dedicated an average of 17% of words in their communiqués to development. In 1975, 15% of words were on development. Lows came in 1984 with 3%, in 2003 with 4% and in 2004 with 1%. Highs came in 1979 with 26%, 1994 with 22%, 1996 with 20%, 2002 with an all-time high of 56%, 2005 with 27%, 2009 with 23% and 2011 with 36%. A sustained sequence of highs started in 2012 with 45%, and continued in 2013 with 39%, and 2014 with 36%, dropped slightly but remained relatively high at the next four summits, and had 38% in 2019. Then came a steep dip to 2% in 2020, followed by a rise to 17% in 2021, 18% in 2022 and 21% in 2023. 


Since 1975 G7 leaders have made 761 commitments on development, the most on any subject. Each summit has averaged 16 development commitments. Leaders made just four commitments on development in 1975, but this accounted for 27% of the total. In 1976, they made only one, for 10%. The most commitments on development came in 2004 with 53, for 21%. Recently, the G7 made none in 2020, 15 (4%) in 2021, 14 (3%) in 2022 and 29 (4%) in 2023. 

At summits hosted by Italy, the number of development commitments has generally risen. The 1980 Venice Summit produced four (7%) and the 1987 Venice Summit also made four (8%). The 1994 Naples Summit made six (11%) and the 2001 Genoa Summit made 10 (17%). The 2009 L’Aquila Summit jumped to 36 (14%). But the 2017 Taormina Summit made only two (1%). 


According to the G7 Research Group, G7 members complied with their leaders’ development commitments on average  at 75%, based on 61 commitments made between 1996 and 2022. This is just below the G7’s overall average of 77%. G7 development compliance gradually rose, but with much variation each year. It started slowly – with all-time lows of 50% in 1996, 1997 and 1998. 

Compliance soared to 93% for 1999 but plummeted again to 50% for 2000. It again rose to 75% for 2001, declined to 55% for 2002, and then rose to 80% for 2003. After a decline to 75% for 2004, it rose to 85% for 2005 and to 94% for 2006. After this high, compliance again fluctuated between 2007 with 65% to 2015 in the mid-range with 75%. Then came a continued high: 81% for 2016 and 2017, 92% for 2018, 84% for 2019, 100% for 2021 and 88% for 2022. By December 2023, compliance on development for the 2023 Hiroshima Summit was 100%.

Causes and corrections 

Higher development compliance is linked to some easy-to-implement measures. The highest compliance (92%) came on development commitments that referenced the core multilateral institution of the World Bank. Those referencing one-year timetables had 90%, those referencing finance ministers had 87%, and those identifying a specific country had 77%. Commitments on debt relief averaged 76% and the 31 commitments on official development assistance averaged 74%. 

Higher compliance also came when G7 development ministers’ meetings were held before the summit. Of the 11 years with ministerial meetings, nine were held before the summit, whose development commitments averaged 81% compliance. The two post-summit commitments averaged only 65%. Together, those years when development ministers met averaged 78%, higher than the 75% average for development commitments. Italy will host a development ministers’ meeting, but it will be in October, after June’s Apulia Summit.

At least six G7 summits established development working groups. The three years with high compliance – averaging 82% – established working groups on financing and sustainable development. The three years with low compliance, averaging 72%, focused on Africa. 

Although Africa-focused commitments have lower compliance, Italy’s 2024 presidency is highlighting G7 partnerships with African countries. The Apulia Summit will likely make several commitments related to Africa. To ensure these are implemented, G7 leaders should structure commitments to involve the World Bank specifically, have short timetables for realisation, and include finance ministers in discussions on financing and sustainable development. Furthermore, development commitments focused on a specific country achieve higher compliance than those that refer to Africa as a whole. Thus, G7 leaders’ commitments should focus on specific African countries, with those in North Africa the obvious candidates in 2024. 

Of the G7 members, Italy has the lowest compliance on development commitments at 62%, and overall compliance across all subjects of 63%. Based on historical data, the G7 Compliance Simulator, an AI predictor of G7 members’ compliance, predicts that Italy’s compliance with its 2023 Hiroshima commitments will remain low, with a probability of 47% for full compliance. It is therefore important for Italy to ensure that the development commitments made at the Apulia
Summit are achievable, for itself and for all G7 members too.