Girls’ education, food crises to top development agenda at G7 ministers meeting

Newly confirmed USAID Administrator Samantha Power is expected to attend two meetings on “Sustainable Recovery” at the G7 Foreign and Development Ministers’ meetings this week in London, United Kingdom.

At the meetings on Wednesday May 5, ministers and administrators will commit to supporting girls’ education and addressing the global food security and nutrition crises, Erica Barks-Ruggles, Senior Bureau Official at the Bureau of International Organization Affairs announced at a State Department briefing on Friday.

Global access to Covid-19 vaccines and climate change are among other topics expected to be discussed.

“We’ll be taking action to ensure fair access to vaccines around the world, setting global girls’ education targets, agreeing ambitious action on climate change and developing new measures to prevent famine,” British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab was cited as saying in a statement.

The G7 is expected to reaffirm its commitment to the 2018 Charlevoix Declaration on the education of women and girls in developing countries, including in areas experiencing conflict.

The G7 Global Task Force Working Group on Education recommends that member countries commit to policies and financing to ensure the “full implementation” of the Declaration by 2025.

The Malala Fund, a non-profit that advocates for girls’ education, in a report, estimates 20 million secondary school-aged girls may never return to school after Covid-19 disrupted the learning of 90 percent of students worldwide.

The report also said that education would continue to be disrupted in countries that couldn’t afford to protect teachers and students from future Covid-19 outbreaks.

As global food security and nutrition worsens, G7 ministers are also expected to endorse a new Famine Prevention and Humanitarian Crisis Panel.

“The G7’s approach to tackling food insecurity and famine risks must be well resourced, multifaceted and comprehensive,” the G7 Global Task Force Working Group on Food & Nutrition Security said in its report. “In addition to scaling up to meet urgent life saving needs the G7 must also ensure it supports longer-term solutions to global malnutrition and food insecurity.”

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 690 million people were considered “chronically food insecure” before the Covid-19 pandemic and 135 million people “acutely food insecure” in 2019, according to the Global Network on Food Crises and Food Security Information Network.

A paper cited in the Task Force report estimates that by 2022, Covid-19 could lead to an additional 9.3 million children “wasted” and 2.6 million stunted. The authors of the paper estimate that an additional $1.2 billion is needed annually to address this issue.

Before attending the Foreign Ministers’ Summit, Administrator Power is expected to outline USAID’s priorities in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic, climate change, and promoting democracy and workforce equity and diversity during live streamed remarks to USAID employees on Monday.

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