Leaders from seven of the world’s wealthiest countries are meeting at this year’s G7 Summit in Germany’s Bavarian Alps on Sunday to discuss the globe’s most pressing issues. On the agenda at the June 26-28 event are Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the global economic crises exacerbated by the war, vaccine equity, and the climate emergency.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, who is the G7 chair this year, previously said at the Global Solutions Summit in Berlin in March that the war in Ukraine “must not lead us as the G7 to neglect our responsibility for global challenges such as the climate crisis or the pandemic.”
What exactly is the G7, and how does it work?
The G7 consists of seven of the world’s richest countries, which meet annually to typically discuss global security, economic, and climate concerns. Expect to see the U.K. Prime Minster Boris Johnson, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau as well as French President Emmanuel Macron (Italian Prime Ministry Mario Draghi), Yoshihide Suga, U.S. President Joe Biden.
E.U. President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council President Charles Michel will attend this year as well, as is customary for the bloc’s leaders.
“It’s a gathering of some of the most economically and politically powerful democracies in the world…that’s happening at a time when we have the greatest authoritarian expansionist threat since Nazi Germany invaded Europe,” says Nicole Sedaca, executive vice president of Freedom House, a U.S. nonprofit that tracks democracies. “What we’ll be looking for is how much of their political and economic might will they bring to bear to really push back on on Russian aggression.”
G7 chairs can also invite countries, so leaders of South Africa, India and Indonesia are possible to attend.
Although Russia joined the group in 1998—and the name changed to G8—the country has been excluded since 2014 after annexing Crimea.
G7 as it’s now called was created in 1973 after the 1973 oil shock, which led to recession and increasing inflation. To discuss economic issues, France, Italy and Japan formed the first Group of Six, which was established in 1975. In 1976, Canada was added to the Group of Six.
Learn more What is the G7? Here’s the History of the Conference
What’s on the agenda?
Despite Scholz’s comments that the war in Ukraine must not cause G7 leaders to neglect other global priorities, the issue is expected to dominate the three-day summit. “There is a real premium on conveying unity and a credible response because this war is not going to be short-lived,” says Michael Hanna, U.S. program director at the International Crisis Group.
This year’s summit could be particularly important for crafting impactful global economic responses, he adds.
A major focus will likely entail dealing with economic shocks that followed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and the subsequent Western sanctions—areas where experts believe finding a unified approach will be an easier task.
“(Russia) deserves the lion’s share of the blame but there’s no question that the response and Western sanctions are playing some part,” Hanna says, referring to the state of the global economy. “That comes on top of the kind of inflationary pressures and economic shocks that we saw during the pandemic.”
The war’s effect on the distribution of food has been dire. Ukraine is one of the world’s main suppliers of grains and vegetable oil; Russia’s invasion has disrupted regular production and contributed to record world food prices. The G7 has called on all nations to “keep their food and agricultural markets open” and questions over food production, distribution and supply, and aid for hard-hit countries could be points of discussion.
“Many of these challenges that we’re facing globally are man-made challenges,” Sedaca says. “It’s not a shortage of wheat. It’s not a shortage of grain. It is a choice of one country to disrupt global markets for their own authoritarian gain.” She cautions against focusing only on food or refugee crises without addressing the root cause. “When the root cause is authoritarianism, we need to solve that as opposed to focusing singularly on the outcomes.”
The G7 also reiterated ahead of the summit the need to work towards achieving the World Health Organization’s goal of vaccinating 70% of the world’s population against the coronavirus by mid-2022. But doing so, would “require substantial acceleration” of the global vaccination campaign, according to a statement on the G7’s official website.
What G7 countries have done so far to support Ukraine
Last month, the G7 countries agreed to give $19.8 million more economic assistance to Ukraine. They have imposed sanctions on Russia, which target some of the country’s biggest banks, major Russian state-owned enterprises, and elites and their family members. They are also working to eliminate or ban Russian oil.
The U.S. also announced that they would provide $1 billion more in military assistance last week. It has already committed $4.6 billion in security assistance since Russia’s invasion on Feb. 24. France pledged last week to send Ukraine six additional truck-mounted artillery gun trucks. Germany’s defense minister signaled three multiple rocket launchers would be available for Ukraine’s use in July or August. Canada declared June 15 it would provide at least $9million worth of military assistance; Canada promised $274million in military support to Ukraine since the outbreak of war.
The West is showing more resolve to help Ukraine.
Last week, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz, French President Emmanuel Macron, and Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi met Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Kyiv and affirmed their support for the country’s E.U. bid. E.U. granted Ukraine “candidate” status on Thursday. Boris Johnson (UK Prime Minister) also made a surprise appearance in Kyiv for the second time last week.
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