G20 Summit to discuss post-COVID world: EU leaders

DUBAI: The G20 Summit in Riyadh on Nov. 21-22 will discuss what a post-COVID-19 world will look like, EU leaders said in a briefing on Friday.

The summit “could mark a new beginning for global cooperation,” said Ursula von der Leyen, head of the EU Commission.

EU Council President Charles Michel said the summit will chart “what we want (the world) to look like” after the pandemic.

Both leaders recognized the urgency of addressing COVID-19 as well as climate change, and Von der Leyen called for continuous investment in developing and distributing vaccines against the virus.

She discussed updates on COVAX, a global initiative to ensure swift and equitable distribution.

“Pledges of $1.8 billion have recently been made for vaccine procurement through COVAX, for low- and middle-income countries, but more will be needed. The estimates are around $5 billion,” she said, adding that funds are also needed for testing and treatment.

“The total needs are estimated to be $38 billion, of which $4 billion have been made available so far,” she said.

Von der Leyen said she and other international figures have written to the G20 leaders asking for support to mobilize the necessary funds.

She discussed future preparedness and the importance for countries to draw lessons from the pandemic.

Michel said an international treaty on pandemics “would help prevent” future ones “and help us respond more quickly and in a more coordinated manner.”

The World Health Organization “must remain the cornerstone of global coordination against health emergencies, and a treaty on pandemics could implement its efforts,” he added.

Although public health seemed to be of prime importance, both EU leaders agreed that there are other issues the G20 leaders need to discuss at the summit.

Von der Leyen said it is important to “maintain economic support measures” as the world recovers from the pandemic. “Our collective recovery must be sustainable and inclusive,” she added.

Climate change will also be a major topic, both leaders said. “At the summit, I’ll urge G20 partners to commit to the full and effective implementation of the Paris Agreement,” Von der Leyen said.

Michel said: “Our focus this year is clearly on fighting the pandemic, but the threats of climate change are no less urgent today than yesterday.”

Both leaders expressed hope that the summit will bear actionable plans to address COVID-19 and other global issues.