G20 leaders vowed to ensure that the COVID-19 vaccines would be fairly distributed worldwide, while declining to explain how they would do so amid funding shortfalls from the world’s poorest nations.
In a 10-page communique released following the conclusion of the G20 summit Sunday, leaders of the world’s 20 largest economies said they were “united in our conviction that coordinated global action, solidarity, and multilateral cooperation are more necessary today than ever to overcome the current challenges and realize opportunities of the 21st century for all by empowering people, safeguarding the planet, and shaping new frontiers.”
The leaders went on to decry the recovery from the novel virus as “uneven, highly uncertain and subject to elevated downside risks, including those arising from renewed virus outbreaks in some economies, with some countries reintroducing restrictive health measures.
“We underscore the urgent need to bring the spread of the virus under control, which is key to supporting global economic recovery. We are determined to continue to use all available policy tools as long as required to safeguard people’s lives, jobs and incomes, support the global economic recovery, and enhance the resilience of the financial system, while safeguarding against downside risks.”
The world leaders also pledged to extend a debt-relief program that supported developing nations during the pandemic until June 2021, saying that 46 countries had successfully requested to put off $5.7 billion in debt service payments thus far.
The memo also calls for private creditors to join their debt relief efforts, though it is not clear if that would help the G20 countries lighten their load.
“There is a lack of participation from private creditors, and we strongly encourage them to participate on comparable terms when requested by eligible countries,” the draft said.
The statement came following a weekend of virtual events for the Group of 20 summit, hosted this year by Saudi Arabia from Riyadh.
Saudi Finance Minister Mohammed Al-Jadaan acknowledged the financial shortfalls following the close of the summit, saying at a news conference Sunday, “There [are] obviously shortages but there is clear commitment…to ensure equitable distribution of vaccine to every country.”
“I think the key message that I would want to leave with you all today is that every single leader was supportive of the G20 initiatives to ensure that we provide enough resources to ensure that the vaccine and therapeutics [are] available to everyone,” he added.
During the summit, the leaders also pledged their commitment to addressing climate change, though they faced pushback from President Trump on the issue of the Paris Climate Accords.
The G20 statement said boldly that, “Preventing environmental degradation, conserving, sustainably using and restoring biodiversity, preserving our oceans, promoting clean air and clean water, responding to natural disasters and extreme weather events, and tackling climate change are among the most pressing challenges of our time.”
“As we recover from the pandemic, we are committed to safeguarding our planet and building a more environmentally sustainable and inclusive future for all people.”
The US commander-in-chief, however, decried the deal as “one-sided” during a virtual session of the leaders on the environment.
“The Paris [Climate] Accord was not designed to save the environment, it was designed to kill the American economy. I refuse to surrender millions of American jobs and send trillions of American dollars to the world’s worst polluters and environmental offenders, and that’s what would have happened,” Trump said, likely referencing China.
President-elect Joe Biden is expected to rejoin the agreement on his first day in office.
With Post wires