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G20 leaders pledged to fund coronavirus vaccines for poor countries

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The atypical G20 family photo that this year was taken virtually due to the pandemic

The G20 virtual summit, focused this year on recovering from the crisis caused by covid-19, and strengthening cooperation between its members to combat the pandemic, ended this Saturday after a second session held by the group’s leaders and the publication of a final statement. In the text, agreed by consensus, G20 leaders promised to “spare no effort” to ensure equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines worldwide.

The declaration, in a consensual tone, lists few concrete measures. “We will spare no effort to ensure affordable and equitable access for all,” the text vaguely states.

Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz delivers a virtual speech during the opening session of the 15th annual G20 Leaders' Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz delivers a virtual speech during the opening session of the 15th annual G20 Leaders’ Summit in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

In the final statement, G20 members pledge to contribute the funds still lacking to the COVAX initiative, through which middle and high income countries can finance the poorest to also receive covid-19 vaccines. This instrument still requires $ 28 billion in financing, of which $ 4.2 billion is needed before the end of the year.

But nevertheless, in the text there are no more measures to alleviate the situation of the most disadvantaged nations, despite the fact that it was one of the most important points on the agenda of several of the participants. The final declaration is limited to reiterating the commitments already acquired throughout the year by the Group with the most vulnerable countries, how to maintain the suspension of the debt for them until June 2021, ignoring for now the call made by the UN for it to last until the end of next year.

The group also underlines “the urgent need to control the spread of the virus, key to sustaining the global economic recovery. We are determined to continue to use all available policy tools whenever necessary to safeguard people’s lives, jobs and incomes, as well as the global economic recovery and enhance the resilience of the financial system. “

In general terms, the G20 is committed to “advancing in the preparation, prevention, detection and response” to global pandemics and “strengthening the general effectiveness” of the United Nations agencies, the World Health Organization in particular , of which they recall their “commitment to transparency.”

The group’s leaders also claim to be “committed to implementing” the so-called Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), “including its extension until June 2021,” the text indicates. 29 of the most favored countries in the world are using this mechanism to allow poor countries indebted to them to suspend the payment of interest on their debts until June 2021. But while the United Nations expected this period to be extended until the end of 2021 , the G20 leaves the “examination” of this issue in the hands of its finance ministers next year.

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The final declaration uses a more consensual tone than in the last G20 summits, marked by the conflict over climate and trade, often due to the reluctance of Donald Trump

As soon as to the environment, the signatory countries of the Paris Agreement, among which the United States is no longer, “reaffirm their commitment to its full implementation, reflecting common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capacities, in light of different national circumstances ”.

And when it comes to trade, after years of confrontation between the US administration of Trump and China, but also with their European partners, the text affirms this time that “Supporting the multilateral trading system is now more important than ever.”

The summit of the 20 largest economies in the world was held this year by videoconference under the presidency of Saudi Arabia, a country highly criticized by human rights organizations. “We have achieved a lot this year, we have fulfilled our commitment to continue working together to face the challenge of covid-19 to save lives and livelihoods, and protect the most vulnerable groups,” King Salmán bin said in a final statement. Abdelaziz. After thanking the other leaders of the group for their participation in the two days that the forum lasted, he handed the baton to the president of Italy, Giussepe Conte, who will hold the presidency of the G20 next year.

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