G7 communiqué identifies future threats for horizon planning 

Denisse Rudich 

Geopolitical tensions dominated discussions at this year’s G7 Summit in Hiroshima. Although Russian aggression in Ukraine was front and centre, the G7 identified a number of regional challenges where countries are facing, or could face, conflict. Financial services firms should be aware of these potential threats. 

In addition, throughout the G7 communiqué, leaders discussed various industries, commodities, and emerging trends that could fall within the remit of financial crime prevention, anti-money laundering/countering the financing of terrorism (AML/CFT), and sanctions teams. 

Firms should monitor developments as part of their horizon scanning and identify any potential exposures. They should be able to identify easily the number and names of clients, the transaction volume, and the value of funds associated with clients operating in higher-risk countries and in industries identified as needing enhanced protection from misuse.  

Firms should also consider updating staff training and awareness initiatives with findings from their horizon-planning processes to ensure staff are able to identify and report suspicious transactions and activity. 

Higher-risk countries 

The G7 identified numerous countries that are undergoing conflict or instability which may expose firms to higher risk of illicit financing or economic crimes. These countries may also face sanctions or have additional persons or entities designated in the future, and firms may wish to monitor this as part of their horizon-planning activities. 

The G7 leaders highlighted the following countries that may pose heightened risk: 

  • Afghanistan — expressed worries about the “dire” humanitarian and economic situation and called for the counter-terrorism commitments made by the Taliban to be upheld. 
  • China — cited human rights abuses in Tibet and Xianjing, raised concerns about Chinese military and other activities in the South China Sea, and called for peace and stability in Taiwan. 
  • Democratic Republic of Congo — reaffirmed the need for the government to commit to “sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity.” 
  • Haiti — stressed the importance of working toward a Haitian-led solution for stability and holding accountable persons responsible for violence, instability and corruption. 
  • Iran — expressed concern about the escalation of its nuclear programme, stating that “Iran must never develop a nuclear weapon,” and condemned Iran’s provision of arms and technology in support of Russia’s war in Ukraine. 
  • Libya — called for stability and unity.  
  • Myanmar — expressed concern about the “deteriorating security, humanitarian and human rights, and political situation in Myanmar,” calling for the cessation of violence and flow of arms into Myanmar. 
  • North Korea — condemned “unlawful ballistic missile launches” and expressed a commitment to North Korea’s abandonment of its nuclear weapons or weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) programme. 
  • Russia — demanded that Russia stop its military aggression. 
  • Sudan — condemned continuing fighting in Sudan and urged all parties to “renounce violence” and take steps to calm tensions. • Syria — called for a political process facilitated by the United Nations and for those responsible for the use of nuclear weapons to be held accountable. 
  • Tunisia — expressed the need for a democratic transition. 
  • Yemen — called for a durable ceasefire. 

Other issues of concern 

Destabilising forces 

In addition to various countries that pose significant illicit finance risks, the G7 Communiqué included references to other areas of concern. This included Russia’s Wagner Group private military contractor, with G7 leaders citing the firm’s human rights abuses and destabilising impact in Africa. 

The G7 also warned about the terrorist threats spreading across West Africa, in the Sahel, the Horn of Africa, and Great Lakes. The G7 further pledged to back African-led endeavours to promote peace, stability, and prosperity. 


A potential area of criminality that could emerge in the future is the illegal dumping of space debris. It is estimated that there are already more than 130 million pieces of space debris orbiting the earth at 28,000km per hour, approximately seven times faster than a bullet. The issues in space are similar to the environmental problems faced by the world’s oceans — both have been identified as a “global commons, where exploitation of what may appear to be a free resource is growing and the true costs of potential environmental damage are obscured.”  

It is anticipated that the number of satellites in orbit will rise from 9,000 to 60,000 by 2030. Given the risks for future exploration of space and the increasing numbers of satellites sent into orbit, the G7 leaders extended their support for the international guidelines issued by the United Nations Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space and welcomed national efforts to develop solutions for space debris to ensure secure, stable, and sustainable access to space.  

Critical minerals 

Given the transition to green energy, G7 leaders flagged the need to build and protect sustainable and “robust, responsible, and transparent” critical minerals supply chains. Critical minerals include copper, lithium, nickel, cobalt, and other rare earth elements, although no definitive list exists. 

Critical minerals may be associated with conflict and human rights violations, such as child labour, and demand is set to skyrocket as the world looks to transition to net zero. For example, it is anticipated that demand for cobalt, lithium, and graphite could increase by up to 450%.  

Firms should remain vigilant to potential corruption, human rights abuses, or trade-based money laundering when financing the extraction, mining, or supply of critical minerals. 

Emerging technology 

G7 leaders also flagged the need to prevent innovative and emerging technology from being used by criminals and terrorists. The G7 leaders indicated that they would strengthen international cooperation and also the “digital response capacity.” This is likely a nod to the more widespread adoption and use of technology such as generative artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, and continued developments in the metaverse. 

Firms should ensure they remain aware of potential illicit finance threats that could emerge through the use of new technology and support victims of computer-enabled crimes to report losses to law enforcement. 

(Denisse Rudich is director of the G7 and G20 Research Groups) 

Originally published by Thomson Reuters on 22 June 2023.