G7 Italy 2024, Apulia Summit


The G7 marked its 50th anniversary this year when Italy hosted the Summit on June 13-15th in Apulia, southern Italy. In line with the common values of freedom and democracy that underpin the G7 states, Italy aimed to focus on defending the rules-based liberal international system and promoting cooperation with the Global South. The Summit focused on addressing the current global challenges. Italy’s top priorities were: the ongoing war in Ukraine, the conflict in the Middle East, and their consequences for the international system and global agenda. Italy also aimed to strengthen the G7’s relationships with developing states and emerging economies by promoting models of mutually beneficial cooperation instead of “paternalistic and predatory logics”. Particular attention was to be given to Africa and the Indo-Pacific Region which relates to the G7’s ongoing concerns with Russia and China. Italy has highlighted migration, the climate-energy nexus, and food security. These are all important issues and Italy aimed to steer the Group’s work towards innovative solutions. Artificial intelligence (AI) also remained a major agenda item as the G7 seeks to keep pace with the evolution of digital technologies and ensure their governance is in line with democratic values and that technology works for people.


Diversifying and de-risking partnerships: China is a major factor in the G7’s emphasis on deepening partnerships with emerging economies and developing states. In the Hiroshima Summit Communiqué, the G7 stated that it would not be decoupling from China, but that it would still stand by its values of free and fair trade as part of the rules-based multilateral trading system. To uphold these values, the G7 is focused on building resilient global supply chains through strategic partnerships in developing states that will achieve de-risking and diversifying its global trade. This builds on the commitments made at the Hiroshima Summit the previous year, which included mobilising up to $600 billion in financing for infrastructure through the G7 Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII).

Widening development agenda: the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the growing climate crisis, and the ongoing war in Ukraine has diverted attention away from broader development objectives and strained commitments from traditional international donors. This had increased the G7’s attention on the development agenda in recent years, compounded by its need for diversification in global supply chains. Financing for sustainable development, particularly in debt restructuring and reform of the international financial architecture and Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs), has featured on the G7’s development agenda and will likely continue to do so under Italy’s Presidency.

Development cooperation in Africa is driven by Italy’s own domestic concerns, particularly migration and energy. In its foreign policy agenda, Prime Minster Meloni launched a flagship proposal for cooperation in Africa, the Mattei Plan, named after the founder of a state-owned oil and gas supplier, Eni. This plan aims to turn Italy into a major energy hub and tackle migration by addressing its root economic causes in Africa. Italy’s turn to Africa has been demonstrated in Meloni’s numerous visits to North Africa, including Algeria for her first bilateral visit abroad, followed by a high-level meetings with Libyan and Tunisian government officials. On the energy front, Italy seeks to become a major distributor of gas from North Africa and the Mediterranean to the rest of Europe, replicating its own success with reducing its dependence on Russian gas. Italy’s cooperation with Africa involves supporting development in the areas of education, exports, infrastructure, health, and sustainable exploitation of natural resources, although there is a concern that its driving aim is to curb irregular migration to Italy. Migration rates continue to increase, despite Meloni’s promise to reduce flows in her election campaign. In 2023, the number of refugees and migrants arriving in Italy was double that of 2022 figures. Many irregular migrants from Guinea, Ivory Coast, Egypt, and Tunisia weather dangerous seas after departing from Tunisia and Libya before arriving to Lampedusa. Italy recently hosted the Italy-Africa Summit at the end of January 2024, where it officially launched the Mattei Plan. While Meloni had framed the plan as an “approach of equals”, it was received with scepticism from some African leaders who criticised Italy for not consulting them in the formulation of the plan.

Food security is another major priority. The Italian Presidency will launch the Apulia Food Security Initiative at the Leaders’ Summit in June to address the food-climate nexus and boost G7 commitments to sustainable food systems, stated Gaimpaolo Cutillo, Deputy Director General/Principal Director for Global Issues and G7/G20 Processes, at the Inception Conference for Think7 Italy 2024

Climate change: the G7 has linked it’s just energy transitions and decarbonisation interests with its de-risking strategy by positioning members states as preferred partners and donors for developing states through initiatives such as: the Build Back Better World (B3W) initiative; and the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII). Decarbonisation has been underpinned by the G7’s interest in moving away from its dependency on Russia..

Italy will also include Africa in the climate change conversation by focusing on its green energy potentials. The Italian Presidency sees energy as “the indispensable fuel for economic growth which, in turn, is the only answer to all the other problems – instability, poverty, migration,” as stated by Gaimpaolo Cutillo at the Inception Conference for Think7 Italy 2024. Italy intends to direct financing to address Africa’s green energy infrastructure gap, which includes wind farms, solar power plants, power grids so that it can produce energy and export surplus to Europe.  

Artificial Intelligence (AI): Italy is concerned with the risks of AI posed to privacy, freedom of speech, and job security. While many regional and national actors are working on regulation regarding AI such as the UNESCO, and the EU, the G7 aims to shape this space by building on the Hiroshima AI Process with a toolkit that will further establish ethical rules for the design, development, and branding of algorithms.

Strengthening the rules based international system: Tensions between major powers of China and the US, and the West and Russia, have marked international relations in recent years, which has undermined collective action on pressing existential issues and hindered recovery coming out of the global pandemic. According to Cutillo, Italy aims to use its Presidency of G7 to work to mend bridges in the global system. Italy intends to use the values, clout, and means of the Group to persuade its rivals that that cooperation is better than competition. To achieve this, Italy will look to deepen its engagement with the G20 and beyond to return to a rules-based international system.

Italy takes over the G7 Presidency at a time where geopolitical tensions continue to challenge the broader liberal international order. The G7’s relevance has been questioned in recent years as industrial manufacturing has moved east, and new emerging economies begin to play a bigger role in global economic affairs. Playing to ideological blocs will be counterproductive to addressing broader collective socio-economic goals, which have already been undercut by the pandemic and war in Ukraine. Italy’s approach to building partnerships with developing states, particularly the African continent, provides an opportunity to turn the G7’s values of free trade and open societies into new partnerships.


The G7 Summit in Apulia will be remembered as a Summit where decisive leadership to advance progress on development under a shared set of values competed with discussions dominated by addressing conflicts, and representatives with one eye focused on domestic issues and tests of their leadership.

Featured among the list of guest nations were Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, India, Jordan, Kenya, Turkey, the UAE, Ukraine, and Mauritania, the current Presidency of the AU. Also notable was the participation of Pope Francis

Day one of the Summit was dedicated to discussions about Africa, climate change, and development, the Middle East, and Ukraine. Day two kicked off with meetings on immigration, the Indo-Pacific region, economic security, the Mediterranean, energy and Africa, and AI.


The focus on Ukraine was reflected in the final Communique, which included the allocation of USD $50 billion to be made available on loan to Ukraine to support its military, budget, and reconstruction needs, and the additional commitment to “step up” efforts to disarm and defund Russia’s military industrial complex. The additional financial support will be funded by the interest on frozen Russian assets as a result of EU sanctions. The initiative drew a sharp response from Putin, who denounced the act as a “theft” that “will not go unpunished”, and suggested it set a precedent that demonstrated how no state or corporations’ assets would be safe from the West”. 

The Summit also saw US President, Joe Biden, sign a new 10-year security agreement with Ukraine. Commentators have noted that the durability of the agreement may be dependent on the outcome of the upcoming US elections if a Russia-friendly Trump government comes into power. This agreement came out one of the many side meetings that took place during the gathering of the G7. Japan and Ukraine also signed a 10-year agreement on the sidelines that covers, defence assistance, humanitarian aid, and technical and financial cooperation. Japan will provide non-lethal equipment and goods, and support Ukraine in the areas of intelligence, medicine and health, and reconstruction and recovery.

The UK added to the West’s effort to push back on Russia by adding a new set of sanctions that targeted 50 entities, individuals, and vessels. These sanctions aim to target Russia’s “shadow fleet” that it uses to bypass Western sanctions on the trade of Russian oil, as well as targeting entities supporting Russia’s military that are based in China, Israel, Kyrgyzstan and Turkey. Also notable was the G7 taking particular aim at China for its continuing support of Russia, with the G7 taking a harder stance against Beijing in the war in Ukraine and broader economic issues.


The G7’s ostensible commitment to the rule of law, and international peace and security passes as somewhat hollow given the string of response to Gaza on the part of G7 members, particularly when compared to their responses to Ukraine.

While Leaders of the G7 have declared their support for the 3-phase deal that Biden presented to Israel, endorsing the UN Security Council Resolution that voted in favour of a ceasefire proposal, this comes after persistent reluctance from the US to support previous collective attempts at establishing a ceasefire. In past, the US has consistently voted against motions to implement “humanitarian pauses”, a “humanitarian ceasefires”, and a “temporary ceasefire” at the UN Security Council. Together, these actions contribute to a passivity by one of the most powerful actors in the liberal international order, which has led to the violation of human rights of thousands of Palestinians. 

The deal Biden proposed to Israel, consists of an immediate ceasefire in Gaza, the release of hostages and a two-state solution. This proposal mirrors a plan that was initially drafted by mediators from Egypt and Qatar, and endorsed by Hamas as early as May 6. The US’s proposal has yet to be agreed upon by Israel and Hamas. Questions – and blame – are beginning to be aimed various parties, particularly at Hamas

While the US continues to mobilise action and favourable opinions for its stance on Ukraine, its position on Gaza has led to growing unpopularity for Biden domestically and increasing distance from the US’s allies on the global stage. 


China featured heavily in G7 discussions, as the leaders pointed to import subsidies that they saw as “unfair business practices”.

The G7 leaders, in the final Communiqué, asserted their support for “free trade, fair playing field”, and recognised the importance of China in global trade. The leaders emphasized that “We are not trying to harm China or thwart its economic development, indeed a growing China that plays by international rules and norms would be of global interest”, but Leaders called on China to “refrain from adopting export control measures, particularly on critical minerals, that could lead to significant global supply chain disruptions”. 

China has been an ongoing concern, as relations between Beijing and Washington were dominated by tensions that have recently somewhat eased through bilateral diplomatic efforts. Likely in line with these efforts, the G7 stated that it seeks “constructive and stable relations with China and recognize  the importance of direct and candid engagement to express concerns and manage differences”. It immediately followed this statement with “We act in our national interest”. Both sides continue to make moves around trade relations, with the Chinese government imposing stricter measures on the exports of minerals required to produce semiconductors, communications and military equipment, and the US government announcing increased tariffs on critical manufacturing and mining sectors

The relations between these two powers have proven to be disruptive for global supply chains, affecting low- and high-income states. This is an area where there are some differences within the G7; where some Members have favoured “strategic autonomy” and avoiding close alignment with the US. 

European domestic concerns

European leaders used the Summit as an opportunity to advance more domestic issues, with Meloni, Scholz, and Macron meeting with EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen ahead of the EU parliament’s vote on the new President of the EU Commission on July 18th – a role for which von der Leyen will be seeking a second term.

Gender equality and women’s empowerment featured as a major item in the final Leaders’ Communique. Reports highlighted that there were some dispute over the wording in the final document around the explicit mention of the word “abortion”. The final document reaffirmed the commitments by the Leaders to “universal access to adequate, affordable, and quality health services for women, including comprehensive sexual and reproductive health and rights for all”, suggesting a more watered-down language compared to the Hiroshima Summit Communique. The omission of the word, ‘abortion’ was allegedly a demand of Italy. French President, Macron, reportedly apologised for not having its inclusion in the final document, citing that, “France has a vision of equality between women and men, but it’s not a vision shared by all the political spectrum”. Addressing the controversy, Meloni suggested that Macron was using the issue to score political points ahead of the French parliamentary elections taking place in at the end of June following Macron’s Renew party’s defeat in the European Parliament elections. This dispute highlights a broader growth of power to right wing politics in the EU, which stands at odds to some of the values upheld by the G7, and has the potential to undermine the unity in the G7.

Common global concerns reflected in the G7 Summit

At the end of the Summit, there were agreements over sustainable development, migration, investments in energy in Africa, and AI, and statements reaffirming action towards climate change, women empowerment, and debt reduction. These reflect issues that are high on the shared global agenda, featuring in past G7 Summits, the G20 Summits, and evidenced by their inclusion in the UN’s Pact for the Future.

On the AI front, Pope Francis gave a keynote address on this topic in a working group session, where he urged leaders to ensure that “the good of every human being” is embedded in a tool that “represents a true cognitive-industrial revolution, which will contribute to the creation of a new social system characterized by complex epochal transformations”. Among the Pope’s comments was the recognition that some AI tools are reflective, and not generative, noting that:

“Technology is born for a purpose and, in its impact on human society, always represents a form of order in social relations and an arrangement of power, thus enabling certain people to perform specific actions while preventing others from performing different ones. In a more or less explicit way, this constitutive power dimension of technology always includes the worldview of those who invented and developed it.”

The above statement speaks to one of the key issues at stake in the regulation of AI: a failure to recognise the deeply political nature of AI. Without a “healthy politics” consisting of a range of diverse perspectives and skills, AI would reinforce power relations that perpetuate inequality and undermine human dignity, to the detriment of our collective wellbeing and prosperity. 

Following the discussions around AI, the G7 committed to launching an action plan on the use of AI in the work of work, and stated its support the implementation of the International Code of Conduct for Organizations Developing Advanced AI Systems developed under the previous G7 Presidency.

The G7 launched the Energy for Growth in Africa Initiative, which promotes energy and climate investments in Africa through developing clean energy projects that attract public and private capital and encourage concessional finance. The plain aims to contribute to promoting economic growth and social development under the AU’s Agenda 2063, and the goals under the Paris Climate Agreement. The initiative has been launched with Canada, the Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Ethiopia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Kenya, Mozambique, Nigeria, South Africa, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, and the European Union as initial partners. It will work closely with the Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), another G7 initiative that has been touted by some as equal to China’s Belt and Road Initiative

In a report published by the International Energy Agency, one of the main knowledge partners in the Initiative, it is estimated that investments will have to double to meet the growing energy demand from African countries, which it hopes to mobilise through concessional finance and private sector investment. This approach was similarly adopted in the PGII in its Just Energy Transition Partnerships that it announced in 2022 which has, thus far, showed limited success in delivering on financing it has promised, while failing to adequately incorporate key stakeholders, such as labour unions, in its proposed plans.

Food systems also garnered some attention at the Summit, with the launch of the G7 Apulia Food Systems Initiative (AFSI). The AFSI intends to transform food systems by, “[overcoming] structural barriers to food security and nutrition and to build resilient sustainable and productive agriculture and food systems, and to ensure that all people can progressively realize the right to adequate food”. The AFSI will focus on support projects in low-income countries, particularly Africa, and are exploring financing mechanisms such as debt-for-nature swaps, with would allow countries to reduce their debt burdens in exchange for protecting important ecosystems. 

Migration issues were a high priority for the Italian agenda, with significant attention paid to the issue ahead of the Summit. Under this issue, Italy secured a commitment by its members, in partnerships with countries of origin and transit, to adopt three-pronged approach to addressing migration. This approach focuses on:

  1. The root causes of irregular migration, through sustainable development initiatives, economic investment, and stabilization efforts;
  2. Efforts to enhance border management and enforcement and curb transnational organized crime involved in migrant smuggling and trafficking in persons; 
  3. Safe and regular pathways for migration.

Fair taxation, debt management, economic resilience, disarmament and non-proliferation, and health featured in the Leader’s Communique, with Leader’s stating their commitments to make progress on these issues in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

Ultimately, the G7 saw a recommitment by major powers to the values of the G7, which consist of the values of democracy, free trade, and human rights, and the rules-based international order. Yet commentators have found the decisive leadership required to assert these values to be somewhat lacking, with many leaders facing tough challenges to these very values under leadership back home. Moreover, the prevalence of conflicts around the world, from Ukraine, Palestine, Sudan, Libya, the Sahel, Haiti, Venezuela, and Belarus also call into question the ability for the global order to adequately respond to various crises and ensure durable peace. 

Several opportunities were identified for addressing the challenges we face, and these pathways would benefit from deeper engagement by G7 leaders. However, geopolitics has dominated the global agenda such that there is little room to promote a robust agenda for long-term sustainable development, even if the agenda has been widened to include more issues. The G7 finds itself in a position of weakened relevance, while being unable to conjure the support and cooperation required to reassert their influence in shaping global governance. As individual members have their attentions turned to their individual interests, this comes at the expense of their goal to strengthen the rules-based international system, and the shared goal of long-term, sustainable development.

Italy hands over the G7 Presidency to Canada, who will be hosting Kananaskis, Alberta. The district held the G7 Summit in 2002, when Russia was still included and the Group was then the G8. 

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