Civil Society Policy Recommendations and Cooperation Canada’s Engagement Ahead of the 2023 G7 Summit in Japan

Civil Society Policy Recommendations and Cooperation Canada’s Engagement Ahead of the 2023 G7 Summit in Japan

The G7 is an informal grouping of advanced democracies that share values of freedom, democracy and human rights. The platform started in Paris in 1975 with six countries (France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, and the United States of America). The G7 was formed in 1976 after the US requested demanded that Canada be brought in. G7 countries meet annually to coordinate global economic policy, global security, and address other transnational issues. This year, the G7 summit will be held from 19 to 21 May in Hiroshima, Japan. 

Parallel to the governmental process, non-state actors mobilize to bring to the attention of G7 leaders the concerns of their respective constituents called engagement groups. In the lead-up to this year’s G7, Cooperation Canada is working with civil society actors and the Canadian government to ensure constructive dialogue with G7 countries. 


The C7 Process 

The Civil 7, or C7, is one of the seven official Engagement Groups represented in the G7 forum. The C7, coordinated by a civil society coalition of the country assuming the G7 Presidency, produces every year a set of policy recommendations for the Leaders’ Summit. This year, the C7 is led by Japan Civil Society Coalition, supported by an International Steering Committee that Cooperation Canada is part of. As part of the C7, there are six Working Groups: climate and environmental justice; economic justice and transformation; global health; humanitarian assistance and conflict; open and resilient societies; and nuclear disarmament 

Mobilized on April 13-14, 2023, for the C7 Summit in Tokyo, then on April 16-17 at the Hiroshima People’s Summit, C7 representatives released policy recommendations ahead of the G7 Hiroshima Summit. As Policy Lead for Cooperation Canada, I had the privilege of attending these meetings and participating in this process. 


The C7 Communiqué 

On Wednesday, 12 April, C7 representatives presented to the G7 Chair and Prime Minister of Japan, Fumio Kishida, the recommendations contained in the 2023 C7 Communiqué. This document was a collective effort of over 700 civil society representatives from 72 countries. The Communiqué reminds G7 leaders of the responsibility and opportunity to design and implement transformative policies for peace, prosperity, and transparency. Following a Preamble that calls for the Hiroshima Summit to “be ‘AAA’ rated – ‘Ambition, Action, Accountability’”, the Communiqué outlines recommendations from the six Working Groups. 

The Nuclear Disarmament Working Group is the first of its kind, born under this year’s Presidency, given the context of nuclear risk exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. The Working Group recommends that G7 leaders acknowledge the harm caused by nuclear weapons, commit to reducing nuclear risk, and reallocate resources spent on nuclear arsenal to disarmament.  

Noting that the G7 economies are overwhelmingly responsible for the climate crisis, the Climate and Environmental Justice Working Group calls on G7 leaders to leverage their power to disentangle economies from fossil fuels, address climate change impacts including by providing adequate finance to the Loss and Damage Fund, protect and restore ecosystems, as well as promote sustainable food systems and climate-friendly financial institutions. 

The Working Group on Economic Justice and Transformation calls on the G7 to steer the system-wide transformation needed to respond to multiple crises, including by reforming the international debt and tax architecture, re-inventing the World Trade Organization, enforcing mandatory human rights and environmental due diligence legislation, and promoting an inclusive and trustworthy digital economy. 

The recommendations of the Global Health Working Group underscore the protection and advancement of health equity and global solidarity to guarantee the rights of everyone to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. This requires G7 leaders to invest in Universal Health Coverage, strengthen the global health infrastructure by building on lessons from the Covid-19 pandemic, and prioritize health and environment co-beneficial policies. 

Recognizing that the humanitarian system is under immense strain, the Humanitarian Assistance and Conflict Working Group asks G7 leaders to reimagine a humanitarian system that truly anticipates needs, prioritizes those most at risk, and preserves a space independent from political agendas. 

The Open and Resilient Societies Working Group advocates for more democratic and just societies, and for the protection of civil society action. The WG asks the G7 to uphold the human rights principles in words and actions at home and abroad, committing to standing against human rights violations, discrimination against minorities, corruption, and limitations on civic space.  


The C7 Summit 

The Communiqué was publicly handed over to the G7 Sherpa, State Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, on the first day of the C7 Summit. The Summit gathered participants in person and online in plenary sessions, including a scene-setting panel with Japan’s G7 sous-Sherpa moderated by Cooperation Canada, and several breakout sessions led by the various Working Groups. 

Collaboration was an important aspect of the Summit. Japan’s C7 leadership made a point to ensure the presence in Tokyo of civil society actors from the Global South to demonstrate the global nature of the C7 process beyond the G7 countries. The C7 coalition also included a panel discussion with representatives of other G7 Engagement Groups, including Labour7, that issued a joint statement with C7 after the Summit, Pride 7, Science7, Think7, Women7, a group that became official in 2018 when Canada last held the G7 Presidency, and Youth7. 


The People’s Summit 

C7 representatives joined citizens of Hiroshima at the Peoples’ Summit organized on April 16-17, 2023, to emphasize the significance of the location and its message of peace ahead of the G7 meeting. The city of Hiroshima, branded as an international city of peace, literally rose from the ashes following the devastation caused when the first wartime atomic bomb was dropped by the United States in 1945. In the current context of global instability and growing nuclear risk, it is not surprising that Japan chose to host the May G7 Summit in Hiroshima.  

Throughout the People’s Summit, the presence and testimonies of Hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) were vivid reminders of the inhumanity of nuclear weapons and the urgent need to commit to their abolition worldwide. Recognizing that some voices would like Japan to become a “normal” country that invests more in defence and armament, People’s Summit participants called for Japan to be a “special” country, one that remembers the horrors of war and nuclear weapons and determines not to let it happen again. 


Canadian Organizations Engaging Ahead of the G7 Summit and Beyond 

Cooperation Canada and some of its members have been engaging with the government to understand Canada’s priorities for this year’s G7 Summit. Representatives of the Humanitarian Policy and Advocacy Group (HPAG) met on April 27th with Gallit Dobner, Executive Director at Global Affairs Canada and G7/G20 sous-sherpa, to understand Canada’s priorities for the G7 Summit, especially regarding the hunger crisis and famine prevention. HPAG representatives appreciate that the April 2023 Foreign Ministers’ Communiqué reaffirmed the G7 commitment to the famine prevention compact, yet were hoping for a refreshed compact reflecting current challenges. They also highlighted the opportunities to contribute to future conversations on nutrition and food security in the G20 process this year and under Italy’s presidency in 2024. 

On May 2nd, Cooperation Canada joined a meeting with David Morrison, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs and G7 Sherpa along with other engagement groups, both official such as Business7, Science7, Think7, Women7, and Youth7, and unofficial like Pride7, University7, and Urban7. The Sherpa opened the meeting reflecting on the drastic changes and complex crises that beset the world, following decades of post-war prosperity for G7 countries. This ongoing polycrisis context, obviously dominated by the Ukraine war, has led to unprecedented levels of engagement among G7 countries since 2022: Heads of State met six times, while Foreign Ministers met on 12 occasions. Cooperation Canada took the opportunity of this meeting to share the key recommendations from the C7 Communiqué. 

As Cooperation Canada engages in this G7 process, we are also looking to 2025, when Canada will hold the G7 Presidency. We look forward to engaging with Cooperation Canada members, and other partners in Canada around the world, in the lead up to 2025. We believe that positive synergies and constructive dialogue between civil society and government are essential to overcome current intersecting crises, and are critical in our collective efforts to work towards a fairer, safer, and more sustainable world for all. 




Carelle Mang-Benza

Carelle Mang-Benza

Policy Lead
Darron Seller-Peritz

Darron Seller-Peritz

Policy Analyst
Inception Workshop of the Global Cooperation Futures Initiative

Inception Workshop of the Global Cooperation Futures Initiative

On April 27, 2023, Cooperation Canada hosted the inception workshop of its Global Cooperation Futures Initiative. The initiative, launched in October 2022 with funding from the International Development Research Centre, aims to reimagine the next generation of international cooperation by developing three scenarios of plausible futures of cooperation in the next seven to ten years. 

In her opening remarks, Kate Higgins, Cooperation Canada’s Chief Executive Officer, expressed gratitude to the initiative’s Strategic Advisory Committee  shared her hopes that the Futures Initiative will help strengthen the capacity of Canadian civil society organizations engaged in international cooperation think systematically about the future, and adapt to changing dynamics in the international ecosystem.   

Andy Ouedraogo, Cooperation Canada’s Research and Program Officer and workshop facilitator, presented the project’s objectives, the temporal and geographical scope, impact pathway, consultant teams, and expected outputs. She introduced strategic foresight as a useful tool and method for better future preparedness and policy innovation for actors in global development cooperation.  

The lively discussions that took place during this workshop attest to the interest in this initiative of the over 60 participants from the Cooperation Canada membership and beyond, including organizations based in Africa, Asia, and Europe. At the start of the workshop, a survey captured the participants’ understanding of strategic foresight, and their organizations’ future preparedness. 84% of respondents admitted that their organizations spent more time responding to challenges than anticipating them. On their knowledge of strategic foresight, 50% claimed to have satisfactory knowledge of the discipline. These insights will be considered in the planning and evaluation of the initiative’s next activities. 

At Cooperation Canada, we’re excited to engage with Cooperation Canada members and others on this initiative, to prepare and position ourselves to be relevant, and have impact, in a fast-changing Canadian and global context.  We look forward to your continued engagement! 

Canada and the Summit for Democracy

Canada and the Summit for Democracy

What is the Summit for Democracy? 

In December 2021, US President Joe Biden hosted a Summit for Democracy focussed on the important themes of defence against authoritarianism, fighting corruption, and respect for human rights. On March 29-30 of this year, the second Summit for Democracy was held, co-hosted by Costa Rica, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, the United States and Zambia, and revisiting the themes from the first Summit. Following a virtual welcome to leaders the Summit included in-person meetings with representatives from civil society, government, and the private sector. The plenaries were designed to highlight key issues and challenges facing democracy today and explore solutions to strengthen democratic institutions and values around the world. Opening remarks were given by leaders of all participating nations, as well as the Secretary General of the United Nations.  


Why does the Summit matter? 

The Summit came at a time when democracy faces significant challenges and threats around the world. Authoritarianism, populism, disinformation, and other factors are eroding democratic values and institutions, making it more important than ever to promote and defend democracy. Given the intensifying struggles in these areas, the Summit turned out to be one of the most important gatherings of democratic leaders and advocates in recent history. It brought together leaders and civil society representatives from around the world to discuss ways to strengthen democratic institutions and values, defend human rights, and promote prosperity for all by addressing these challenges head-on, fostering cooperation and sharing best practices among democratic leaders and advocates. Importantly, the Summit also culminated in the Declaration of the Summit for Democracy, of which Canada is a signatory. 

The Declaration of the Summit for Democracy outlines 17 commitments in the effort to protect and strengthen democratic societies. These 17 commitments are in addition to the 35 actions that Canada committed to at the 2021 Summit for Democracy. In the spirit of these engagements, the Government of Canada instituted a mechanism to track progress for each of their commitments, open to the public online. Together with holding the presidency of the Community of Democracies since September 2022, Canada is actively committed to advancing democratic values. 


What is Cooperation Canada’s role on issues of civic space and democracy? 

Cooperation Canada’s engagement with democracy and civic space starts with its partners and members, both on the domestic and the international scene, with the aim of creating an enabling environment for democratic values to be upheld in Canada and around the world. By playing a liaison role between civil society and the government on important democracy initiatives, Cooperation Canada aims to promote progress and accountability on Canada’s commitments. Indeed, Cooperation Canada: 

  • Serves as the focal point of Canada’s presidency of the Community of Democracies, as well as the Civil Society Pillar focal point. 
  • Co-chairs the Civil Society Policy Advisory Group. 
  • Hosts an annual dialogue with Global Affairs Canada. 
  • Contributes to global reports around the theme of civic space, such as the Progressing National SDGs Implementation report, and global initiatives such as the Civil Society 7. 
  • Aims to reinforce partnerships with civil society through participation in partner networks’ important work, such as Forus. 


Cooperation Canada advocates for meaningful civil society engagement across government consultations and engagement processes and pushes the government to advance democratic values in an equitable and coherent manner. 

Darron Seller-Peritz

Darron Seller-Peritz

Policy Analyst

Reacting to the 2023 Federal Budget

Reacting to the 2023 Federal Budget

On April 4, 2023, Cooperation Canada organized a panel discussion to examine Canadian aid trends, reflect on the 2023 Federal Budget, which was tabled on 28 March, 2023, and discuss its connections with the global cooperation architecture. The panel, moderated by Kate Higgins, CEO of Cooperation Canada, comprised of Aldo Caliari (Jubilee USA), Nilima Gulrajani (ODI), Idee Inyangudor (Wellington Advocacy), Elise Legault (ONE Campaign), and Brian Tomlinson (AidWatch Canada).

Download Readout PDF

In the first part of the event, Brian Tomlinson presented an overview of trends in Canada’s international assistance, describing the various funding flows, the government agencies delivering international assistance, the implementing agencies, and the breakdown of Official Development Assistance (ODA) by components, including development, humanitarian assistance, climate finance and in-donor refugee and student costs. The presentation highlighted that the addition of COVID-19 spending and in-country refugee costs increased Canada’s ODA, but when these components were removed, funding for development decreased between 2019 and 2021. This downward trend was confirmed by Budget 2023, which projects an international assistance envelope of $6.8 billion, a 15% cut from the international assistance budget committed in Budget 2022, a decision heavily criticized by Canadian civil society organizations (CSOs) working in international cooperation and humanitarian assistance.

Following the presentation, the panel acknowledged that the 2023 Federal Budget, though expected to be fiscally prudent, was a missed opportunity for Canada to demonstrate global leadership. The possibility of off-cycle funding announcements in the coming months neither mitigates the sector disappointment, nor constitutes sound public policy, unless Canada decides to transparently present the federal budget as a floor rather than a ceiling. As the defence budget is growing, it was proposed that one way Canada’s feminist vision could be better demonstrated could be to adopt a lock-step approach, aligning defence and development spending.

Putting Budget 2023 in a global perspective, panel members noted the imperative to regain the ground lost during the COVID-19 pandemic and make faster progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. The current global financial system is clearly not fit for the multiplicity of shocks facing the planet. On the one hand, OECD countries are pressured to address inflation and focus on domestic needs. On the other hand, developing countries grapple with an escalating debt burden resulting from the combination of insufficient concessional finance, forced reliance on expensive private lending to meet their basic needs, slow deployment of pledged climate finance, and limited access to the Special Drawing Rights, the reserve asset maintained by the International Monetary Fund (IMF).




Against this bleak backdrop, the panel agreed that new models of resource mobilization are urgently needed. This requires going beyond the narratives advocating for aid increases and exploring ways to do more with available resources, including dormant private capital. In terms of blending public and private resources for development, Canada has been playing catch-up for too long, with FinDev not delivering on expected results. Canada should become more strategic in leveraging private sector instruments as soft power assets.

The panel closed with remarks about what lies ahead for international cooperation actors globally and in Canada. The inadequacy of the international assistance architecture is acknowledged by many, including the OECD – Development Assistance Committee (DAC), in their most recent report, Debating the Aid System. There are emerging perspectives departing from the mainstream North-South development dichotomy and embracing the view of development as a global reality shared by all countries. One such narrative proposes to reframe ODA as a distributed investment in global public goods. Given this and other emerging perspectives challenging the paternalistic aid approach, international cooperation actors in Canada, in particular CSOs, should take the opportunity to engage in broader development conversations about the quantity and quality of aid, refocusing their attention on development outcomes.

Cooperation Canada looks forward to continuing to convene conversations on these critical issues as we work to position ourselves, and support others, to be relevant and effective partners in contributing to a fairer, safer and more sustainable world.



Carelle Mang-Benza

Carelle Mang-Benza

Policy Lead

Budget 2023 Undermines Canada’s Standing in the World as Government Backpedals on Aid Commitment, Says Coalition of NGOs

Budget 2023 Undermines Canada’s Standing in the World as Government Backpedals on Aid Commitment, Says Coalition of NGOs

Ottawa – March 28, 2023: At a time of enormous need globally, the Canadian government has failed to deliver on its promise to increase foreign aid every year. As part of the Federal Budget 2023, the government declined to announce new investments for any international aid programs.

The coalition of 90 NGOs – representing a wide-range of development, humanitarian, environmental and advocacy groups – said that compared to Budget 2022, the overall international assistance funding was cut by no less than $1.3 billion – a 15% cut. The decision by the government to cut foreign aid comes amidst a world facing multiple crises around climate change, hunger, conflict and an erosion of human rights and democratic values.

“The word of the day is ‘undermine’,” said Kate Higgins, CEO of Cooperation Canada that represents over 95 organizations working on development and humanitarian assistance in countries around the world. “This budget undermines Canada’s standing in the world, it undermines progress on sustainable development, and it undermines our security. At a time when the world faces compounding global crises, Canadians expect their government to commit to bold global leadership. This budget does not deliver on this.”

In recent months, a sustained campaign by the international cooperation sector urged the government to prioritize funding commitments towards programs promoting gender equality, health, education, food security and nutrition, climate adaptation, and social justice.

In a letter to Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland in February 2023, more than 75 aid agencies emphasized the importance of foreign aid as a smart investment in global security and prosperity. They called on the government to commit to a predictable, three-year increase to reach $10 billion by 2025. Budget 2023 is lacking that clarity and predictability on how the government will be increasing its foreign aid envelope annually.

Elise Legault of the ONE Campaign added: “Canada has been there for Ukraine, but we are now letting other countries down. Canada’s commitments in today’s budget not only fail to meet this call but actively threaten progress as we know it. We made a promise to the world to increase international assistance every year, and instead there is a 15% cut in the middle of an unprecedented food crisis and countries crumbling under the effects of climate change. This isn’t the leadership that Canadians or the world expects.”

The coalition said they are hopeful that more funds will come later in the year, as this budget blatantly failed to announce new investments. For example, the government indicated its intentions to renew its historic investments for girls education globally made at the G7 in Charlevoix in 2018. Without that renewed investment, four million girls and young women around the world are left with an uncertain future as Canadian-supported education projects will end in the coming months.

“Canada has been a champion of women’s and girls’ rights, but the Feminist International Assistance Policy is an empty promise if Canada fails to back it with concrete actions and resources,” says Julia Anderson of CanWaCH, a coalition of organizations working on women’s and children’s health and rights. “At a time when the world is calling on Canada to step up and deliver on the vision and leadership it promised, this government chose to step down.”


Contact Information:

Louis Belanger – Bigger than our Borders – 613-265-4417

Sabrina Grover – One Campaign – 403-614-6498

Gabriel Karasz-Perriau – Cooperation Canada – 514-945-0309

Charmaine Crockett – CanWaCH – 613-863-9489


Note: The coalition of aid agencies represent a broad group of civil society organizations working in the field of advocacy, education, economic development, women and children’s health, sustainable livelihoods and food and water security, nutrition, gender equality and human rights. The group includes:

Action Canada for Sexual Health and Rights

Action Against Hunger

ACTED Canada 


Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA)

AidWatch Canada

Alberta Council for Global Cooperation

Atlantic Council for International Cooperation

Association québécoise des organismes de coopération internationale (AQOCI)

Bigger Than Our Borders

Bright Hope for Tomorrow

British Columbia Council for International Cooperation (BCCIC)


Canadian Association for the Study of International Development (CASID)

Canadian Feed the Children

Canadian Foodgrains Bank

Canadian Lutheran World Relief 

Canadian Network for Neglected Tropical Diseases

Canadian Partnership for Women and Children’s Health

Canadian Women for Women in Afghanistan

CARE Canada 

Centre d’étude et de coopération internationale (CECI)

Children Believe

Coady Institute


Collaboration Santé International 

Cooperation Canada

Cooperative Development Foundation of Canada

Crossroads International

Cuso International

Développement international Desjardins (DID)

Development and Peace-Caritas Canada

Dignity Network Canada

Egale Canada

Engineers Without Borders Canada

Equality Fund

Equitas – International Centre for Human Rights Education

Farm Radio International

Fondation Paul Gérin-Lajoie

Food for the Hungry Canada

Global Citizen

Global Disciples Canada

Grandmothers Advocacy Network

Health Partners International Canada

Human Concern International

Humanité & Inclusion

Hungry For Life International 

iDE Canada

Inter Pares

International Council of AIDS Service Organizations (ICASO)

International Teams Canada

Islamic Relief Canada

Jane Goodall Institute of Canada

Journalists for Human Rights (JHR)


Kentro Christian Network

Lawyers Without Borders CanaAda

Manitoba Council for International Cooperation

Mary’s Meals Canada

Médecins du Monde Canada

Medical Herstory

Mennonite Central Committee Canada 

Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA)

Mission inclusion

Never Again International – Canada

Northern Council for Global Cooperation

ONE Canada

Ontario Council for International Cooperation

Opportunity International Canada

Oxfam Canada


Partners In Health Canada

Penny Appeal Canada

Plan International Canada

Presbyterian World Service & Development

Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund

Public Service Alliance of Canada- Alliance de la Fonction publique du Canada

RÉFIPS, région des Amériques

Right To Play International

Results Canada


Santé Monde 

Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation

Save the Children 


Seva Canada


SOS Children’s Villages Canada


Tearfund Canada

The United Church of Canada 

Unité de santé internationale de l’Université de Montréal

UPA Développement international

Veterinarians without Borders Canada


WaterAid Canada

War Child Canada

The Wellspring Foundation for Education

World Accord

World Hope International (Canada)

World Renew

World Wide Hearing

World University Service of Canada

World Vision Canada