G20 leaders pledged on Sunday to ‘stop at any effort’ to guarantee equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines, according to the final declaration of a virtual summit with a resolutely consensual tone but poor in concrete details.
‘We will not back down from any effort to ensure affordable and equitable access (to vaccines, tests and treatments, editor’s note) for all,’ they write.
The summit of the world’s 20 greatest economic powers is being held this year in a virtual format that takes away much of its luster, and under the presidency of Saudi Arabia, which has drawn strong criticism from human rights organizations.
While the pandemic has now killed nearly 1.4 million people worldwide, presidents or heads of government have said ‘fully support’ the mechanisms put in place by the World Health Organization to ensure that vaccines do not benefit only the richest countries.
The G20 members promise to ‘fill the funding needs that still exist’, when they themselves are already setting up large-scale vaccination campaigns.
The United States said on Sunday that it hopes to start theirs before mid-December. Private laboratories and G20 states have been competing for several days to announce the progress of their future vaccines.
But the G20 did not explicitly mention the amount of 28 billion dollars (23.6 billion euros), including 4.2 billion in emergency, claimed by the United Nations to deal with the pandemic.
Poor Country Debt Promises
Another subject on which the G20 was expected at the turn: the debt of poor countries, which is soaring due to the economic cataclysm caused by the pandemic.
G20 leaders ‘promise to implement’ an already adopted Debt Service Suspension Initiative (ISSD / DSSI) which allows poor countries to suspend interest payments on their debt until June 2021.
But while the United Nations hoped that this deadline would be extended until the end of 2021, the G20 is relying on its finance ministers to ‘examine’ this issue next spring.
The great powers, which have already spent some 11 trillion dollars to save the world economy, also say they are ‘determined to continue to use all available instruments’ to support an ‘uneven’ and ‘very uncertain’ recovery.
Beyond the pandemic, the final declaration adopts a tone at first glance a little more harmonious on climate and trade, favorite workhorses of Donald Trump today especially busy contesting his defeat in the American presidential election.
On the environment, exit for example the separate paragraph that the United States had inserted in the text concluding the G20 summit in Osaka last year, to clearly mark their difference in this area.
In the one that concludes the G20 under Saudi presidency, the great powers promise to ‘face the most pressing environmental challenges.’
But the rest of the declaration carefully differentiates between the signatories of the Paris Agreement and the others, and therefore the United States – even though President-elect Joe Biden has promised to bring his country back into the system.
Donald Trump, who had quickly left the debates Saturday to go play golf, took advantage of an intervention Sunday in front of his counterparts to once again castigate the Paris Agreement, which according to him ‘was not designed to save the environment. It was designed to kill the American economy ‘.
When it comes to trade, ‘it is more important than ever to support a multilateral trading system’, and to ensure a ‘level playing field’, also write the G20 leaders.