The heads of state and government of the six leading industrial countries (France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States of America) met in 1975 for the first time to discuss the global economy. They were joined in 1976 by Canada, thus forming the G7, and in 1998 by Russia (G8). Following the Russian annexation of Crimea, the G7 nations decided in March 2014 to meet without Russia until further notice. Since 1977, the President of the European Commission has been attending G7 summits and, with the adoption of the Lisbon Treaty, the President of the European Council participates too. The two presidents represent the European Union.
The topics discussed at the G7 have evolved, from the initial focus on economic issues around oil and the collapse of the fixed exchange rate system, to today's wide-ranging of issues, including environmental ones.
It very much depends on the rotating presidency to determine the agenda of the summits. In 2015 in Elmau (Bavaria), under Germany's Presidency, the G7 discussed environmental topics including resource efficiency and the fight against marine litter (the full report of the leaders' discussions is here). These were also on the agenda of the G7 summit in Ise-Shima in May 2016 under Japan's Presidency. The 2016 G7 Environment Ministers' Meeting adopted the Toyama Framework on Material Cycles, as a contribution to the G7 Alliance on Resource Efficiency. Building on this, the 2017 G7 Environment Ministers' Meeting, under Italy's Presidency, adopted the 5-year Bologna Roadmap, a “living” document to advance resource efficiency and prioritize actions that promote life cycle based materials management and the 3Rs ("Reduce", "Reuse" and "Recycle"). In 2018, G7 Environment, Ocean and Energy Ministers met on the theme of Working together on climate change, oceans and clean energy in the fall in Canada. On this occasion, G7 members launched the G7 Innovation Challenge to Address Marine Plastic Litter to promote scalable solutions to reduce plastic waste and marine litter, including technological and social innovations in plastics use and management. This year, the French G7 Presidency organised a G7 Environment Ministerial Meeting (5-6 May 2019, Metz) under the theme "Fighting inequality by protecting biodiversity and climate". G7 environment ministers agreed on a communiqué, the Metz Charter on biodiversity and other initiatives. The Metz Charter on biodiversity was also endorsed by G7 Leaders at the Biarritz Summit.
See also the G7 Web-Site.
The G20 is an informal forum for discussion between major OECD and non-OECD countries on issues related to global economic stability. It was created as a response to the growing recognition that key emerging economies such as China, India and Brazil were not adequately represented at the core of global economic discussion and governance.
In recent years the G20 summit took place in Antalya (Turkey, 2015), Hangzhou (China, 2016), Hamburg (Germany, 2017), Buenos Aires (Argentina, 2018) and in 2019 it will take place in Osaka (Japan). This year, the Japanese G20 Presidency hosted the first ever G20 Ministerial Meeting on Environment, Climate Change and Energy – Ministerial Meeting on Energy Transitions and Global Environment for Sustainable Growth (Karuizawa, 15-16 June 2019).
See also the G20 Web-Site.
Building on the political momentum set by the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement, the G7 and G20 will play a pivotal role in promoting resource efficiency as the next step-change for a sustainable future. In this light, the European Commission has organised thematic events to foster the G7 and G20 resource efficiency agendas, showcasing opportunities and challenges, best practices and policy recommendations. More information is available here.