Hottest topics at German G7 meeting


ELMAU CASTLE, Germany: Greek debt turmoil and a flare-up in fighting in Ukraine are sure to command a large share of the attention at the Group of Seven summit in Germany starting Sunday.

But German Chancellor Angela Merkel has asked her fellow leaders in the club of rich nations to look beyond immediate crises to other major issues affecting the world’s population.

Creating a united front among seven leading industrialized nations on fighting climate change is the “absolute priority” for Merkel, her advisors say.

The aim is to send a clear message ahead of a drive toward a global agreement in December at a UN conference in Paris committing nations to reduce dangerous greenhouse gas emissions.

However, analysts say that even if the G7’s European members — Britain, France, Germany and Italy — appear ready to rally behind an ambitious formulation in the final summit communiqué renouncing the use of fossil fuels in electricity production from 2050, for example, Canada, Japan and the United States are unlikely to follow suit.

Public health  
The German presidency wants the G7 to unite behind a plan to fight global pandemics as laid out by the World Bank, and to advance research into Ebola.

Resistance to antibiotics is also on the agenda, including proposals inspired by World Health Organization recommendations to check over-prescribing of antibiotics and define more narrow criteria for their use in humans as well as animals.

Safety at work
As always, international commerce, including proposed sweeping free deals, will figure high on the G7 agenda, but the focus this time will also include global standards on labor.

The summit is expected to sign off on the creation of a “Vision Zero Fund” to ensure compliance with safety standards as outlined by the International Labor Organization.

The aim is to prevent disasters such as the building collapse at Bangladesh’s Rana Plaza factory complex, which killed more than 1,100 people in 2013.
Fight against hunger
The G7 plans to set a new target to pull 500 million people out of hunger and malnutrition among the two billion people around the world currently afflicted.

The debate is intended to help prepare for a UN conference in Addis Ababa next month on financing for development.

Merkel has put improving education and training for girls and women and more opportunities for female executives high on her agenda.

On the education issue, “we will attempt to get as many concrete commitments as possible” from developing countries, a source in Berlin said.

And to increase opportunities for women, Germany will press the G7 members to sign on to principles to advance the cause of businesswomen, including easier financing for female-owned firms.



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