Unknown G77 countries want more attention to climate and inequality

The G77 summit in Havana last week

NOS News

  • Devi Boerema

    Foreign publisher

  • Devi Boerema

    Foreign publisher

On the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in New York, the G77 countries are also trying to attract attention. These are mainly developing countries, not 77 as the name suggests, but now 134. This group is not well known, but together these countries represent 80 percent of the world's population.

In New York, they are especially trying to take a stand on the subject of climate change, because they are the ones who suffer the consequences. And the effects of rising inflation and high debt levels also affect these countries much more than richer countries. UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres last week called for more support from countries. At the G77 summit in Cuba, he said: “The world is failing the G77. »

“These countries feel that they have always been abused by richer countries,” says Joyeeta Gupta, a professor at the University of Amsterdam specializing in climate and the unequal distribution of wealth. “Because of colonialism, because of the extraction of raw materials and the consequences of climate change. The system is unfair, they say.”

UN chief Guterres reinforced his remarks this week by excluding the United States and China from the interim climate summit in New York. Countries like Tuvalu, South Africa and Pakistan, president of the G77 in 2024, had the floor.

The G77 was founded in 1964 by 77 countries within the UN with the aim of bringing together “non-aligned” countries. These were countries like Egypt, Indonesia and India that did not want to take sides during the Cold War. By working together, they hoped for economic progress. Other countries have joined the group and, in addition to the current 134 member states, China is also often considered part of the group.

Since its creation, the G77 has struggled to convince the rest of the world of its relevance. The annual summit receives little attention and few people know about the partnership. Professor Gupta also noticed this when teaching students who often come from developing countries: “Even the diplomats I teach have not always heard of the G77.”

These countries feel that they have always been abused by richer countries. The system is unfair, they say.

Joyeeta Gupta, professor at the University of Amsterdam

Only once did the G77 really manage to pack a punch. “In 1995, they were able to exclude countries from OPEC and the demands they made then played an important role in the creation of the Kyoto Protocol two years later.” Countries then agreed for the first time that greenhouse gas emissions needed to be reduced.

According to Gupta, the group is so unknown for several reasons. The large number of members also poses a problem: they are divided among themselves. Although they all consider themselves developing countries, India and Brazil, for example, are much more developed and influential in the world than an island nation like Vanuatu.

“Agreements are made within the G77, but then countries negotiate based on their own interests,” says Gupta. “One country has large forest areas, another island is worried about rising sea levels, while some members also have oil.”

The message from countries is therefore not always clear. This year, the theme of the G77 is the development of technology and artificial intelligence. Interests also differ in this area: India and China want to develop this technology themselves, while other countries want to benefit from the knowledge of richer countries.

This division suits Western countries well, Gupta believes: “Groups such as the G20 and G7, organized outside the UN, sometimes have uncomfortable influence over UN agreements.”

Since the creation of the G77, the essence of its message has hardly changed: the richest countries have too much power, the international system must be overhauled.

The uncomfortable message, Gupta says, is that every country must give up something to keep the world livable. “If these countries continue to develop according to our example, the Earth's resources will be far from sufficient.”

This is also the uncomfortable message that UN CEO António Guterres must convey to G77 countries like India and China, which are among the world's largest CO2 emitters.