At the G20 Summit, world leaders discussed the road to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, while they address climate change, gender equality and digitalization. Members have committed to work as allies to achieve sustainable development worldwide.
Priorities On the Table
Health, the environment and the global economy were the predominant subjects of the final declaration. These issues were labeled the most immediate crises the world faces because they “hampered progress towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals,” stated the declaration.
Vaccination was recognized as the “most important tool against the pandemic,” so leaders reaffirmed efforts to vaccinate at least 40 percent of the world’s population by the end of 2021 and 70 percent by mid-2022.
Additionally, with the aim of providing adequate, sustainable and better coordinated financing for pandemic prevention, preparedness and response (PPR), leaders established the G20 Joint Finance-Health Task Force. By early 2022, it will establish a financial facility, to be coordinated by the WHO, to enhance global financing for pandemic PPR.
Sustainable development and the environment were also a priority, with leaders committing to reach carbon neutrality by “around mid-century.” They also agreed to end public financing for coal-fired power generation abroad but set no target for phasing out coal domestically. The G20 concurred that the impacts of climate change, such as extreme storms, floods and rising sea levels, will be significantly lower if the average increase in global temperature can be held to 1.5°C (2.7°F).
Gender equality and women’s empowerment: The leaders’ Declaration reaffirmed countries’ commitment to gender equality and female empowerment. Leaders also committed to rapidly enhance the quantity and quality of women’s employment, with a particular focus on closing the gender pay gap. G20 members included goals to eliminate gender-based violence, a commitment to bridge the digital gender gap and the promotion of universal and affordable access to connectivity for all by 2025. Skills development for young people and the inclusion of migrants and refugees in the response to the pandemic were also prioritized.
Digital economy and data gaps: “We recognize the role of technology and innovation as key enablers for the global recovery and sustainable development,” states the final declaration. The G20 also recognized the importance of policies to create an inclusive, open, fair and non-discriminatory digital economy that fosters the application of new technologies, allows businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive and protects and empowers consumers. It also addresses the challenges related to privacy, data protection, intellectual property rights and security.
Improving data availability and provision, including on environmental issues, and harnessing the wealth of data produced by digitalization “is critical to better inform our decisions,” according to the G20.
“Lack of Ambition” Criticisms
Numerous climate change activists criticized the summit and the decisions. G20’s statement “was weak, lacking both ambition and vision, and simply failed to meet the moment,” said Jennifer Morgan, Executive Director, Greenpeace International.
Global Citizen Impact shared on twitter that “This was a moment for the G20 to act with the responsibility they carry as the wealthiest economies on the planet – both to end the pandemic and to curb climate change. Yet all we saw were more platitudes. The G20 was an opportunity for concrete actions to show how multilateralism is the best answer to tackling the converging crises we face today, but the G20 let the world down.”