New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged a new approach to globalisation and multilateralism in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic during his address at the G20 Extraordinary Virtual Leaders’ Summit Thursday.
The summit was a video conference among the 20 biggest economies of the world – G-20, whose members include the US, the UK, India, Brazil, European Union, Russia – and agencies like the United Nations and the World Health Organization (WHO), among others. It was held to discuss ways to tackle the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed thousands worldwide since December.
During his intervention at the meeting, official sources said, Modi stressed the need to look at globalisation and multilateralism not just through the prism of economic and financial issues, but also through humanitarian aspects, in order to address future pandemics effectively.
According to the sources, the Prime Minister also called for strengthening international organisations like the WHO.
“The WHO initially did not have the mandate to deal with a pandemic of this sort, which is why empowering of WHO is necessary, be it in terms of its capacity of early warning or development of effective vaccines, or capacity-building,” one of the sources said as they quoted the gist of his statement.
At the video conference, the G20 leaders vowed to inject $5 trillion into the global economy as part of a targeted fiscal policy to counteract the social, economic and financial impacts of the pandemic, which has severely affected economic activity around the world with nations locking down to check its spread.
The leaders also committed to provide immediate resources to the WHO’s Covid-19 Solidarity Response Fund, the Norway-based vaccine de Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness and Innovation (CEPI), and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, on a voluntary basis.
According to sources, there was a lot of focus on how India, with a population of over 1 billion that is second only to China’s, was dealing with the pandemic.
India was lauded by other G20 leaders on the effort it has made to deal with this unprecedented crisis under the framework of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).
‘Strengthening global capacity’
According to a statement issued by the leaders after the meeting, they also committed to strengthening national, regional, and global capacities to respond to potential infectious disease outbreaks by substantially increasing “our epidemic preparedness spending”.
“This will enhance the protection of everyone, especially vulnerable groups that are disproportionately affected by infectious diseases,” the statement said.
The G20 leaders also directed international organisations to further step up coordination, including with the private sector, to support emerging and developing countries facing the health, economic, and social shocks of Covid-19.
“On the economic front, amid the slowdown in global growth and the turmoil in financial markets, the G20 has a pivotal role in countering the economic and social impact of this pandemic. Therefore, we must have an effective and coordinated response to this pandemic and restore confidence in the global economy,” said King Salman of G20 chair Saudi Arabia, according to the statement.
Meanwhile, the European Union (EU) called on the bloc to assist each other in repatriating citizens stranded abroad who wish to return home.
According to European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel — the two bodies are part of the EU — G20 has a pivotal role in ensuring such global coordination.
The G20 bloc comprises Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, and the EU.
Apart from the G20 countries, the conference was also joined by Singapore, Spain, Jordan, and Switzerland. Other participants included the United Nations, World Bank, World Health Organization, World Trade Organization, Food and Agriculture Organisation, Finance Stability Board, International Labour Organisation, International Monetary Fund, and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
Other regional organisations were represented by their chairs — Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) by Vietnam, African Union (AU) by South Africa, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) by the UAE, and the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) by Rwanda.