During its 2018 G7 presidency, Canada demonstrated global leadership, engaged G7 counterparts on pressing global challenges and advanced domestic and international priorities.
An important aspect of Canada’s presidency was the transparent and inclusive engagement with Canadian and international stakeholders. In addition to extensive in-person engagement sessions that took place across Canada, the G7 presidency reached out across multiple digital and social media channels to engage with Canadians throughout the year—and heard from thousands of stakeholders. Guided by this stakeholder engagement, Canada put forward an agenda that was relevant to Canadians and focused on global issues of interest to G7 partners. Canada welcomed the contribution to the 2018 presidency from seven engagement groups: Business 7 (B7), Civil Society 7 (C7), Labour 7 (L7), Science 7 (S7), Think Tank 7 (T7), Women 7 (W7) and Youth 7 (Y7).
On June 8 and 9, Canada hosted the G7 Leaders’ Summit in Charlevoix, Quebec—the highlight of the G7 calendar. G7 leaders held frank and constructive discussions on key global issues built around Canada’s themes:
At the Summit, Canada, the European Union, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the World Bank announced an investment of nearly $3.8 billion to support quality education for women and girls living in crisis and conflict-affected and fragile states. Canada announced $400 million toward this initiative.
Canada welcomed leaders from Argentina, Bangladesh, Haiti, Jamaica, Kenya, Marshall Islands, Norway, Rwanda (as chairperson of the African Union), Senegal, Seychelles, South Africa and fellow APEC member Vietnam, as well as the heads of the United Nations, World Bank, International Monetary Fund and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, for a special outreach session focused on how to build resilient coasts and communities, sustainable oceans and fisheries, and the problem of plastics in our oceans. After the session, Canada announced an investment of $100 million to rid our oceans of global marine litter and plastic pollution and $162 million to build stronger and more resilient coasts and communities in climate-vulnerable countries, including for small island developing states.
In addition to the Summit, Canada hosted four sets of G7 ministerial meetings, which aligned with the themes of Canada’s 2018 presidency:
Canada integrated the fifth theme of Advancing Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment across all themes, activities and outcomes of Canada’s 2018 presidency.
In its role as president, Canada created the Gender Equality Advisory Council for its G7 presidency in 2018. The Council was mandated to promote a transformative G7 agenda and support leaders and ministers in ensuring that gender equality and gender-based analysis were integrated across all themes, activities and outcomes of Canada’s G7 presidency.
The Council carried out its mandate by advising the G7 presidency and recommending concrete actions for the G7 to advance gender equality and women’s empowerment across all areas of the G7’s work. Council members participated in each of the G7 ministerial meetings and in one sherpa meeting, sharing their perspectives and recommendations with all G7 delegations.
On June 4, 2018, the Council launched its report, Make Gender Inequality History, proposing concrete recommendations for G7 action that call for:
Recommendations from the Council to make gender inequality history
The Gender Equality Advisory Council for Canada’s G7 presidency conducted virtual meetings and online exchanges throughout the year.
The Council held its first in-person meeting on April 25 and 26, in Ottawa, to discuss how to promote a transformative G7 agenda and support leaders and ministers in ensuring that gender equality and gender-based analysis are integrated across all themes, activities and outcomes of Canada’s G7 presidency. The Council also discussed its preliminary recommendations with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The Council met with several cabinet ministers, the Women 7 (W7) formal engagement group and a variety of stakeholders.
The Council held its second in-person meeting on June 8, in Québec, to further discuss the promotion of gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls in the G7 context. On June 9, the Council participated in an engagement session with G7 leaders at the Charlevoix Summit.
Council’s final report and recommendations for future G7 presidencies
The Council’s final report, submitted to Canada’s G7 presidency in December 2018, provides an outline of progress made on gender equality under the Canadian presidency. It includes an assessment of past G7 commitments and offers recommendations for future G7 presidencies.
The report attests to considerable progress under Canada’s leadership, including the creation of the Gender Equality Advisory Council, the release of the Council’s Make Gender Inequality History report, a marked increase in the inclusion of gender equality issues and voices in G7 meetings and processes, and strengthened gender equality commitments across G7 outcomes.
In 2018 more G7 outcome documents and reports integrate or explicitly address gender equality than ever before: 81% compared to an average of 46% over the past five years. Together with the substantial financial commitment at Charlevoix to quality education for girls, adolescent girls and women in crisis and conflict situations, support for gender equality and women’s empowerment will stand as a central part of Canada’s 2018 G7 legacy.
The Council’s final report identifies gender equality gaps for future action by the G7 and offers recommendations for future G7 presidencies.
The G7 members’ final statement contains 28 points. US President Donald Trump did not agree to the economic section of the final statement. The G7 members also announced to recall sanctions and to be ready to take further restrictive measures against Russian Federation for the failure of Minsk Agreement’s complete implementation.
The notion of ”economic growth that works for everyone” or “equitable growth”, known as ‘Croissance Équitable’ in French,is rooted in the papal encyclical Rerum Novarum which has had a profound influence on the economic thought of French and Quebecois policy makers—including Pierre Elliott Trudeau and other alumni of the Université de Montréal.
It holds that governments and institutional investors must always have in mind the best interests of employees when making investment decisions—including decent wages and pension benefits. Engaged employee-nominated pension board members are expected to contribute to the development of the equitable investment ethos that will drive this economic approach.
Canadian and French thought leaders have stressed the need to achieve gender equality across all economic sectors by using modern, quantitative managerial tools that can help more precisely measure gender pay gaps and thus inform corrective policy measures at both the corporate and government level. Meeting in Paris, Montreal and Toronto in the weeks leading up to the Charlevoix summit, Canadian and European asset owners and policy makers agreed on the need to step up and assume more responsibility for the advancement of women’s rights and other “related social parameters” across all assets classes.
In that perspective, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is expected to announce a distinct G7 sustainability initiative focusing specifically on gender diversity across global capital markets—for which “the Canada Pension Plan, OMERS, the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec and the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan are each expected to pitch in [initially] $1 million apiece, with another $5 million from the federal government.”
Melinda Gates and Isabelle Hudon served as co-chairs of the Gender Equality Advisory Council created by the Trudeau government for the G7 summit.
World Pensions Council (WPC) economist Nicolas J. Firzli has argued that, in spite of the United States withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, the G7-driven process of international consensus-building could still be tilted in favor of renewed cooperation towards the attainment of the Sustainable Development Goals—thanks notably to Justin Trudeau’s multilateralist approachand the rapid shift towards ESG-informed investment policies amongst US and Canadian institutional investors.
No summit guest.