G77 in Cuba call to “change the rules of the game”


The G77, a coalition of developing nations representing some 80% of the global population, convened a two-day summit in Havana, Cuba, which concluded on Saturday, and called for a new global order. The summit focused on Science, Technology and Innovation and saw a number of MOUs signed and bilateral relations enhanced whilst the collective sent strong political messages to the “Global North”.

Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel, currently chairing the organization, emphasized the need for the South to reshape the world’s rules, as the North has historically dominated global affairs. Diaz-Canel highlighted the multifaceted global crisis faced by developing countries, spanning from unfair trade practices to the impact of climate change.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres echoed these concerns, asserting that developing nations are ensnared in a complex web of global challenges, including climate change and foreign debt. He criticized the world for failing these countries during the summit.

Established in 1964 to promote the economic interests of the Global South, the G77 now includes 134 member states. Although China, listed as a G77 member, maintains it is not officially part of the group, it pledged support for its mission. Representing China, Li Xi, a member of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, affirmed their commitment to prioritizing South-South cooperation in international relations. Li also addressed the summit’s focus on science and innovation, stating that China remains dedicated to advancing technological advancements to bridge digital divides.

Latin American nations’ leaders, such as Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, Venezuela’s Nicolas Maduro, Colombia’s Gustavo Petro, and Argentina’s Alberto Fernandez, were among the attendees. Other world leaders present included Angolan President Joao Lourenco, Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi, and Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas.

Fernandez of Argentina emphasized that the COVID-19 pandemic represented a significant turning point as it revealed the stark disparities in vaccine access among countries. He pointed out that 90% of vaccines were available to a select group of 10 nations.

Indonesia called upon the nations of the Global South to enhance their collaboration efforts and actively promote further development cooperation. Botswana’s President stressed that no country is able face all the challenges that the world is experiencing on its own, and appealed to international cooperation, urging the African Union to dedicate one percent of its GDP to research.

President Wickremesinghe of Sri Lanka recognized Cuba’s longstanding history as an advocate for the interests and ambitions of developing nations in numerous international forums. He emphasized the emergence of a fresh technological gap in the 21st century, highlighting the imperative need to embrace digitalization and novel technologies like Big Data, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), Blockchain, Biotechnology, and Genome Sequencing to narrow this divide.

Sri Lanka intends to establish four novel universities specializing in emerging technologies, with one of them being the outcome of technological collaboration between India and Sri Lanka. The forthcoming International Climate University will be the fifth of its kind.

At the summit, a number of MOUs were signed, namely by Nigeria’s delegation, headed by Vice President Kashim Shettima, with the Republic of Cuba to strengthen cooperation in the fields of Innovation, Science, and Technology.

The bilateral agreement encompasses various areas of collaboration, including biotechnology, scientific research and innovation, technological advancement, capacity building, specialized exchanges in Science and Technology, and technology transfer for development purposes. Nigeria’s Minister of Innovation, Science & Technology, Uche Nnaji, signing on behalf of Nigeria, while Cuba’s Minister of Science, Technology, and Environment, Elba Montoya, represented her country.

Nnaji praised President Bola Tinubu for his leadership, which played a pivotal role in facilitating the agreement’s signing. He also expressed Nigeria’s commitment to fully leverage the opportunities arising from this bilateral agreement.

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