Saudi Arabia is gearing up to host the upcoming two-day virtual summit of G20 leaders, an international forum for the governments and central bank governors, from 19 countries and the European Union (EU) from November 21.
In 2021, Italy will host the G20 Summit and in 2022 India will host the summit, when the country celebrates its 75th year of Independence.
Saudi Arabia assumed the G20 presidency in December last year, but as the Covid-19 pandemic crippled the world economies and health systems, it was decided to hold the summit on a virtual platform.
In December 2019, Saudi Arabia had unveiled an ambitious theme for its G20 presidency, namely ‘Realising Opportunities of the 21st Century for All’.
The three pillars of the theme included empowering people, safeguarding the planet and shaping new frontiers.
The Saudi Arabia G20 presidency has been driving harmonious efforts to address social and economic inequalities between men and women with the aim of ‘Realising Opportunities of the 21st Century for All’.
The upcoming meeting on November 21-22 is going to be a landmark one. Coupled with key ministerial meetings and leaders’ summits, the G20 has attached great attention to the work of the eight engagement groups, as they constituted the core of the efforts of the G20 for this year, with the aim of building a more resilient and better world for all.
However, the presidency had to redirect its focus towards addressing the immediate and the future fallouts of the pandemic and engage all the leaders on a regular basis to form coordinated responses to the pandemic.
Even then, holistic development and access to equal opportunities for all remained the focus of all efforts by G20 countries.
Through coordinated efforts and constant virtual engagements, the group has implanted a number of schemes at the global level to deal with the economic, health and social challenges resulting from the pandemic.
The first extraordinary G20 leaders’ virtual summit was held on March 26 where leaders agreed to take all necessary measures to contain the pandemic.
The meeting was also a result of a discussion between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Saudi Arabia Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
Saudi Arabia had pledged $500 million to relevant international organizations to support global efforts in combating the pandemic. Since then, virtual conferences and ministerial meetings have been held at regular intervals. During the second virtual meeting, the countries agreed to suspend debt service payments for the world’s poorest countries through the end of the year.
During the third meeting, the ministers welcomed the progress achieved under the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). It has benefitted 43 countries till date and the relief has been extended by six months.
Since March, the G20 nations have injected $11 trillion as part of targeted fiscal policy and economic measures. The G20 has contributed over $21 billion to support the production, distribution, and access to diagnostics, therapeutics, and vaccines.
It has also launched a debt suspension initiative for the least developed countries that would allow beneficiary countries to defer $14 billion in debt payments due this year and use these amounts instead for financing their health systems and social programs.
Saudi Arabia co-led the Global Response Pledging on May 4, 2020 aimed to raise funds for the immediate need of $8 billion, which the Global Preparedness and Monitoring Board stated is urgently required to develop and deliver a Covid-19 vaccine, along with diagnostics and therapeutic resources.
Earlier in the year, the G20 digital economy ministers met virtually on April 30 to address the challenges posed by the pandemic on digitization. The ministers recognized the potential of digital technologies to contribute to the fight against pandemics by accelerating the development of potential diagnostics, treatment and vaccines.
The Second Digital Economy ministers meeting was held on July 22 where ministers also identified Artificial Intelligence’s potential to generate economic, social and health benefits by accelerating progress towards achieving Sustainable Development Goals.
The Science 20 (S20) Summit on September 26 this year focused on the future of health, the circular economy and digital revolution and foresight.