Wednesday, November 25

Inoperative G-20 | Opinion | THE COUNTRY

King Salman of Saudi Arabia during the reading of his speech at the G20 summit.
King Salman of Saudi Arabia during the reading of his speech at the G20 summit.BANDAR AL-JALOUD / AFP

The G-20 summit – held formally in Saudi Arabia but actually in virtual mode due to the restrictions imposed by the pandemic – concluded yesterday without substantial progress beyond declarative rhetoric in two of the three fundamental aspects that were on the table: health fight against covid-19 and climate change. Regarding the third urgent matter, the renegotiation of the payment terms of the debt of the poorest countries, hardly a compromise solution has been achieved, extending the moratorium on interest payments until June 2021. This is a very poor balance for a forum that brings together the major world powers, which shows the ineffectiveness of global governance at a time when concrete and coordinated actions are urgently needed throughout the planet.

The extension of the moratorium on the payment of interest on debt for the 73 poorest states in the world, of which just over half – 38 – are in Africa, is positive but insufficient. It is not a definitive term, but then its extension will be reviewed. It is about mitigating the devastating effects that the economic difficulties derived from COVID-19 are having on the liabilities of the poorest nations. However, the measure is of a reduced draft. To date, 46 of the 73 countries have used the scheme, with some 4.8 billion euros of 2020 interest deferred.

Several participants have reiterated the need to ensure that the vaccine against covid-19 reaches all corners of the planet and not only the citizens of those countries that can afford its massive acquisition. The defense made by the president of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen, that the World Health Organization (WHO) plays a key role in the global strategy to fight the pandemic is particularly correct and sensible. The systematic denigration that Donald Trump has been doing against the organization has not helped anything so far in a fight that must be rational and global. However, beyond identifying the problem and general displays of goodwill, this G-20 summit does not provide tangible solutions. A slowness to which the German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has shown her “concern.”

The third big issue on the table is climate change, where once again the enormous difficulties to achieve progress have been highlighted, among other things due to the discrepancies with the current US Administration. The change in the White House will improve things in that regard. But the result of the G-20 has been disappointing and exposes the absence of formats and wills to ensure global governance in times of growing shared challenges.

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