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Think 7 USA 2020: Report of the Think 7 Summit

Videoconference, May 14–15, 2020
Organized and hosted by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, Washington DC, with the support of the G7 Research Group based at the University of Toronto
May 26, 2020
[Download full report with participant bios]

Think 7 USA 2020 was held on May 14 and 15, 2020, by videoconference from its hub in Washington DC. It was designed, organized and hosted by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, with support from the G7 Research Group based at the Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy at the University of Toronto.

Think 7 USA 2020 assembled 27 high-level experts from all G7 members, including the European Union and neighboring countries, with leading reputations in the five key areas that the G7 presidency itself had identified as the focus for the summit this year. The Think 7 thus focused on health, economic recovery, trade, energy and environment, and peace and security. The 27 participants came from think tanks and universities, with contributions from those who with highlevel experience inside their government teams, especially in the United States.

Informed by the experience of the inaugural, full-blown Think 7 launched in Canada's year as G7 host in 2018, and the subsequent Think 7 in France in 2019, Think 7 USA 2020 sought to make an independent, innovative and influential contribution tightly tied to the summit's agenda priorities.

The result was the 25 consensus recommendations contained in this report. They are followed by the list of the participants and their biographies, and the rationales upon which the recommendations are based. We welcome your thoughts in the days and months ahead. These recommendations are presented in the form of commitments that the G7 leaders can adopt and present in their own summit communiqué(s).

In conclusion, we are grateful to the splendid support of Jane Harman, director, president and CEO of the Wilson Center. We also appreciate the support of our staff and colleagues, especially Jacqueline Orr, Savannah Boylan, Mariana Sanchez Ramirez and Gerassimos Pepelassis. At the G7 Research Group, we are also grateful to Madeline Koch, executive director, and many of our researchers: Stéphanie Bussière, Meagan Byrd, Alessandra Cicci, Sonja Dobson, Hiromitsu Higashi, Maria Marchyshyn, Bogdan Stovba, Alissa Wang, Brittaney Warren, Kat Yampolsky and Mary Zelenova.

Christopher Sands
Director, Canada Institute
Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars

John Kirton
Director, G7 Research Group
University of Toronto

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Rationales and background for the recommendations are available in the full report.

Global Health

  1. We will support the most vulnerable and guarantee funding for Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs' $6.7 billion call for the immediate global humanitarian response to COVID-19 in fragile countries.
  2. We will make an initial, immediate commitment of $20 billion to vaccinate the world's population as a global public good and will also support global scientific collaboration to accelerate the development, production, equitable and affordable access to new COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines (Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator).
  3. We agree to lead by example and implement the seven urgent actions that will prepare the world for future health emergencies as set out by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, engage in proactive collaborative global leadership, and provide the necessary political support and funding to this end, work to improve and reform the system of pandemic and preparedness response and drive the global effort to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.
  4. We will strive to mitigate the catastrophic impacts of COVID-19 in the most vulnerable countries and populations by taking measures to slow and stop the spread through reliable monitoring and testing, a One Health approach, strengthened primary health care, and leveraging technology and digital health, while continuing our work to control anti-microbial resistance, ensuring human rights and working to meet our targets set in Sustainable Development Goal 3, including ending HIV/AIDS by 2030.
  5. We will address the gendered dimensions of COVID-19, in particular the role of women healthcare workers and the recent spike in gender-based violence. Building on the work of the G7's Gender Equality Advisory Council and the Women's Global Development and Prosperity Initiative, we will form a task-and-finish group to develop timely and effective measures to address the gender aspect of the pandemic, based on a multi-stakeholder approach that includes national governments, civil society and international institutions.

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Global Economy

  1. We agree that as our economies reopen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we will undertake efforts to modify economic policies and regulatory structures to make our economies more flexible, resilient, jobs rich and pandemic proof, and compatible with equality of opportunity, including access to universal health coverage.
  2. >We will promote economically and socially sustainable COVID-19 recovery strategies by providing best practice guidance on physical distancing and sanitization for businesses and institutions to encourage the rapid, safe reopening of our economies. We further commit to redirect our fiscal support toward policies that promote adaptation to new circumstances. This can involve redirecting current stimulus packages to active labor market policies (such as hiring and training subsidies), investment tax credits, employment services and online resource matching platforms.
  3. We will make a concerted effort to invest in human capital — especially health and education — to stimulate growth, stabilize living standards and make the global economy more resilient to economic and other shocks. This includes identifying and sharing best practices to provide workers with the skills they will need to find good jobs and to contribute to a strong post- pandemic economic recovery, engendering close and cooperative partnerships between business (especially small business and entrepreneurs), academia and local, regional and national governments to give workers and businesses the skills needed to prosper, including healthcare workers and post-secondary students.
  4. We will assess the resources available to international financial institutions, particularly the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank, required to provide effective support for their members, covering both short-term emergency funding needs and medium-term financial challenges, particularly debt overhang. We will maintain our public debt moratorium for poor states and stand ready to provide more necessary effective assistance through such appropriate measures as debt forgiveness, action on private debt and consideration of a special issue of IMF special drawing rights where G7 members could pass on their allocations to others for the above purposes. We will coordinate closely in our efforts to help those countries hit most severely by the COVID-19 pandemic to recover.

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International Trade

  1. We will assure that emergency trade measures taken do not harm efforts to address the pandemic, including by rapidly removing all tariffs and unnecessary non-tariff barriers on medical products and other essential supplies, to lower the costs of finished goods, inputs such as active ingredients and scarce chemicals; abstaining from new policies that would undermine responses to the pandemic and waiving existing restrictions on purchases of medical products and other essential supplies; keeping supply chains open to facilitate imports of raw materials, inputs and final medical goods; and establishing an experts group to give us recommendations for making supply chains more robust and more resilient and building more effective emergency supply chains. We ask the World Trade Organization (WTO) and Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development to monitor trade and investment restrictions imposed in response to the pandemic and to publish quarterly reports assessing their impact.
  2. We will support the WHO's "open platform" policy on patents and licensing of COVID-19 diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines to ensure adequate supply and effective distribution as they are approved. We will also address other trade-related intellectual property issues as the international economy evolves and give special focus to assuring access to medicines and medical supplies in the pandemic and other health emergencies.
  3. We will work to forge additional agreement on digital governance and data flows, e-commerce and e-service provision, given the increasing reliance on data collection and flows, internet- provided services and digital marketplaces.
  4. We support WTO reform in the year ahead to improve its functioning and enhance the role of the multilateral trading system to promote trade flows and support economic recovery. We will thus engage in a thorough, extensive search to select the next WTO Director General with the urgent need to reform the organization in mind.
  5. We will support efforts, through WHO, to revise the International Health Regulations, to develop and implement new protocols for foreign travel subject to international testing guidelines, and to allow emergency waivers of licensing requirements so that qualified practitioners can move between countries as the peak caseloads roll from one location to another.
  6. We support the more effective use of existing trade agreements and mechanisms, such as the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement, and will identify additional steps to facilitate flows of essential goods and services that are needed during the pandemic. We will also consider this year new agreements to liberalize trade in medicine and medical supplies that can facilitate provision of such goods and increase global surge capacity during future health emergencies.
  7. We will devote concerted attention to potential abuses of government subsidies, under cover of responding to the pandemic, that would disrupt efficient supply of goods and to develop options for strengthening international disciplines on the use of subsidies.

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Energy and Environment

  1. We will encourage major investments in the physical infrastructure of electricity grids, to ensure grid reliability and the capacity to bring new energy sources online and foster new smart grids that can handle more intermittent sources of energy and ensure higher levels of security against external threats and ensure that our hospitals, long-term care facilities and supporting healthcare infrastructure always have the electricity they need to control COVID-19. To this end we will promote renewable energy, battery storage, grid infrastructure, digitalization, and electric and hydrogen-fuel based mobility.
  2. We will strengthen global gas markets, while minimizing methane emissions, to promote energy security and respiratory well-being, by facilitating the movement of natural and liquified gas, in ways that assist the energy transition and allow for full complementarity with renewable energy sources.
  3. We will reduce energy sources that pollute the air and harm health, especially in urban areas, given the compelling evidence that the COVID-19 pandemic's impact was worsened by poor air quality and particle pollution.
  4. We will do our fair share to meet the global goal of planting 1 trillion trees by 2030 for planetary and human health, by using locally appropriate trees that provide medicines and promote health and biodiversity, by nurturing their growth, and by creating 1 million new jobs for this purpose over the next years. We will mobilize our citizens, private sector and other stakeholders including Indigenous peoples to help in planting and maintaining tree health, while preventing deforestation and assisting others in such efforts.
  5. We will identify the challenges and propose solutions for the management of medical waste in our own and key developing countries. On this basis we will act against severe water pollution from contaminated waste, develop an early warning system using wastewater monitoring to prepare for potential future pandemics and reduce plastic pollution more generally.
  6. To support a healthy, green, fiscally sustainable recovery, we aim to phase out fossil fuel subsidies, unproductive agriculture subsidies and polluting coal-fired power plants in our countries; decarbonize our energy systems, including through financial institutional rules and incentives; invest in green hydrogen networks; promote a clean, circular economy of low emission technologies, resource efficiency and waste reduction, appropriate carbon pricing, and sustainable products and services; enhance digital technology applications for sustainable development; build and renovate buildings in energy-efficient and healthy ways; and foster smart mobility and active transportation.

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Political Security

  1. Building on the United Nations Secretary-General's call on March 23, 2020, for a global cease- fire in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, we commit to a new and comprehensive Global Peace Process to restore trust through confidence-building measures, and to launch negotiations between like-minded countries for a United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolution on general principles of international conduct, mutual respect, and common responsibility for peace and stability in the 21st century. This includes a common stance against terrorism and mass atrocities. We take urgent action together with other nations and organizations to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in conflict zones and for refugees and internally displaced persons. In a spirit of trust and compromise, G7 members are ready to work intensively with the UNSC and relevant non-G7 partners, in renewed contact groups, to end the protracted armed conflicts in Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen and the Sahel in the near future. We support a new push in disarmament talks in line with the Non-Proliferation Treaty, including a renewal of New Start and a new treaty on intermediate range nuclear forces between the United States, Russia and China.
  2. We agree to mandate a task force in order to constitutionalize the digital sector by expanding the Universal Declaration of Human Rights to include a Universal Declaration of Rights on the Internet. Safeguards are needed to protect its end-users in turbulent times when potential and actual victims of a pandemic are or can be traced, named and eventually shamed regardless of their privacy worldwide, for the first time ever. Such provisions should combine free access for all and protection against harassment of all kinds, as well as transparency and security. Within this framework for action, and building up on, first, the 2019 Christchurch Call to Eliminate Terrorist and Violent Extremist Content On Line and, second, on the 2019 Biarritz Summit Charter for a Free, Safe and Open Internet, we aim in particular to strengthen cooperation in investigating hate speech, as well as promoting hate speech awareness through digital education.

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G7 Process

  1. We will continue meeting at appropriate intervals this year to ensure the effective implementation of these commitments and to build on them in response to changing needs. We invite the G20 to support our efforts in this regard.

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Full bios available in the full report.

Download the full report, with bios and rationales for the 25 recommendations.

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