From June 13–15, 2024, Italian Prime Minister Giorgia Meloni will convene G7 leaders in Apulia, Italy. The high-level convening comes against the backdrop of a considerable array of global challenges, including war in Ukraine, ongoing conflict in Gaza, climate disasters, and a mounting sovereign debt crisis in the Global South. Amid a resurgence of authoritarianism worldwide, renewed geopolitical tension, and existential climate crisis, this G7 summit represents more than just another leaders’ forum: It is a critical opportunity to reinforce democratic values and restore trust in international institutions through decisive, targeted multilateral action.


Here are five critical priorities the G7 should address at the summit this week.


1. Use Russia’s frozen assets to help Ukraine Russian aggression continues to devastate Ukraine, causing extensive destruction to cities and infrastructure. The United States recently approved $60 billion in security assistance for Ukraine, but aid is arriving slowly, allowing Russian forces to make their largest advance since late 2022. Similarly, the European Union’s current plan to generate about $3 billion annually from frozen Russian funds only covers a fraction of Ukraine’s monthly financing needs. With nearly $300 billion in frozen Russian assets available worldwide, these funds must be mobilized to fill a critical funding gap as Ukraine braces for a brutal summer offensive. However, some G7 countries, including notable holdouts Germany and Japan, remain unwilling to seize these immobilized assets in their own jurisdictions due to the potential legal ramifications and broader market implications. Other European nations, including France, Italy, and the European Central Bank, worry that seizing reserves could undermine confidence in the euro and single-currency assets. At the recent G7 finance ministers’ meeting, the United States proposed a compromise to use the interest from frozen Russian assets as collateral for a $50 billion loan to support Ukraine. This plan is a significant step but faces challenges, including who would issue the debt, how risks would be shared among G7 countries, and the potential effects on future interest rates. G7 ministers have indicated their openness to the U.S. plan a final agreement will require approval at the upcoming summit. It is vital that G7 leaders announce a political agreement for this compromise within the final communiqué that signals firm and unified resolve in support of Ukraine.


2. Focus and coordinate food security efforts Ongoing shocks to global supply chains from Russia’s illegal invasion of Ukraine, climate disasters, and localized conflict have created a food insecurity crisis worldwide. In 2023, 282 million people across 59 nations, disproportionately women and children, faced severe food insecurity. In Sudan alone, nearly 4 million children are acutely malnourished an additional three-quarters of a million suffer severe malnutrition due to ongoing conflict. G7 leaders must take urgent action to provide financial assistance to organizations such as the World Food Programme, as well as direct bilateral aid to the worst-affected countries, such as Zambia, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Afghanistan, and Yemen. However, financial assistance alone is insufficient due to a fragmented aid landscape and mounting logistical hurdles. Rather than creating a brand-new initiative, leaders should coordinate and implement current programs, working with partners on the ground. Coordinated global leadership, akin to successful initiatives such as the United States’ President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR), serves as a powerful example of how countries can optimize aid delivery. G7 leaders should strengthen food system resilience by supporting smallholder farmers and investing in data coordination and agricultural research. Collaborative ventures such as the Agricultural Market Information System have made strides in targeted and efficient interventions. Scaling up these efforts is essential, and G7 leaders should commit to investing in them.


3. Chart a path to Israeli-Palestinian security and peace The conflict in the Middle East demands urgent action. Following Hamas’ terrorist attack on October 7, 2023, Israel’s heavy-handed military response has killed more than 36,000 Palestinians and worsened the already dire humanitarian situation in Gaza. Although clashes between Iran and Israel have somewhat eased, Iran’s proxies, notably Hezbollah and the Houthis, have further destabilized the region. In this context, it will be crucial for G7 leaders to support the proposal for a ceasefire that President Joe Biden presented on May 31. The ceasefire proposal offers a pathway for an immediate cessation of hostilities, return of hostages, and response to pressing famine and humanitarian needs in Gaza, and G7 leaders should commit their support to all of these. The deal paves the way for an enduring end to the conflict that will allow the G7 leaders to work with regional counterparts toward sustainable security and peace. The summit in Apulia also offers an opportunity for G7 leaders to commit to a clear path for a future Palestine. This should include reaffirming commitment to a future Palestinian state, with support for governance under the Palestinian Authority and eventual elections. Such a state’s success will require a longer-term plan to rebuild Gaza, which will be a protracted and challenging process demanding substantial financial investment. G7 leaders must coordinate planning for relief, recovery, and reconstruction efforts—including committing to funding these efforts.


4. Lay the groundwork for COP29 As the COP29 U.N. Climate Change Conference approaches in November, the upcoming G7 summit in Apulia presents a crucial opportunity for the world’s largest democracies to take decisive action on climate finance. The introduction of the New Collective Quantified Goal (NCQG) in Baku, Azerbaijan, marks a significant turning point, replacing the outdated $100 billion commitment from developed nations. The G7 should commit to an ambitious NCQG while prioritizing increased grants and concessional financing for climate projects in developing regions. This will lay the groundwork for productive discussions at COP29, where the stakes are high. Leaders must not only set a new climate finance target but also ensure it aligns with the ambitious goal of limiting global temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above preindustrial levels, as outlined in the Paris Agreement. Additionally, substantial financial support for climate initiatives in the Global South is needed. Right now, just about one-quarter of the world’s climate finance makes its way to the Global South.


5. Make multilateral institutions work for all Twentieth-century multilateral institutions are not equipped to handle 21st century problems, and the G7 must play a key role in driving reforms forward. To enhance global trust and accountability, low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) must have a more prominent voice in decision-making structures across multilateral development banks and governance fora. Granting LMICs a greater role as summit-invited countries in designing working group programs, akin to India’s inclusion of the African Union as a permanent G20 member, is a key step forward. G7 countries should also include explicit reference in the final communiqué not only in support of ongoing reform efforts—such as the World Bank’s “Evolution Roadmap”—but also of broader reforms to global governance bodies, as outlined in the draft “Pact for the Future” to be presented at the U.N. Summit for the Future this September. Moreover, during the G7 summit in Apulia, leaders should prioritize supporting debt restructuring and cancellation. Additionally, they should focus on providing increased concessional, long-term development financing by supporting a new allocation of special drawing rights (SDRs), as CAP called for last year, as well as commit to periodic issuance of SDRs structured to benefit countries with the greatest need. By taking these critical steps, the G7 can help pave the way for a more resilient and inclusive global governance system.


Conclusion


The G7 summit in Apulia represents a pivotal opportunity for the world’s foremost democracies to collectively tackle pressing global challenges. By prioritizing these interconnected issues and enhancing collaboration, the G7 can demonstrate cohesive leadership, paving the way for a more secure, prosperous, and democratic future.


Allison McManus is Managing Director, National Security and International Policy Robert Benson & Courtney Federico are Senior Policy Analysts