The summit as a video conference – Chancellor Angela Merkel and Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz attended the online G20 summit at the weekend. The spotlight was on how to master the COVID-19 pandemic, but climate action, conservation and sustainability also figured high on the agenda. Here is a round-up of the most important points discussed.
The Leaders’ Declaration radiates the spirit of multilateral cooperation, praised Chancellor Angela Merkel on Sunday, after the online G20 summit. "And I believe that is very important at this time," she declared at a joint press conference with Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz. Because of the pandemic, the meeting of heads of state and government took the form of a video conference.
The pandemic, and the worldwide recession it has caused ,were the focus of the two-day meeting. COVID-19 is a global challenge that can only be tackled together, stressed Angela Merkel. Charles Michel, President of the European Council, proposed an International Treaty on Pandemics to frame "the lessons we have learned from what we are currently experiencing". The Chancellor expressed her support for this proposal.
Read the full Leaders’ Declaration PDF, 156 KB, not barrier-free of the G20 summit issued on 22 November 2020.
Hope of vaccines
"Happily there is now hope that vaccines will be available," continued Angela Merkel. The fair distribution of vaccines is thus a very real issue. It is not only important to ensure vaccine for Europe, she declared. "It is important for every country in the world." Angela Merkel underlined the importance of the COVAX initiative for global equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines. Germany has already made a financial contribution, but funding still falls "far short" of what is needed. On Saturday, in a video message to the summit, the Chancellor called on the G20 to step up support for COVAX.
Climate, sustainability – the focuses were different from those of other summits
"It was interesting to see how, compared to other summits in the past, almost everybody, wherever they come from, raised and stressed the importance of the environment, sustainability, and living in harmony with nature rather than basing our lives on the ruthless exploitation of natural resources - whether the specific topic was climate action, coral reefs or biodiversity," said the Chancellor.
Climate action was one of the main topics addressed at the summit. With the exception of the USA, all G20 states have committed to pursuing the objectives laid out in the Paris Agreement on climate change, said Angela Merkel. "We will be working to make progress towards achieving these commitments in Europe too."
Strengthening the economy, fighting the rise in poverty
At the summit, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the economy was made very clear. This is reflected in the Leaders’ Declaration, said Angela Merkel. "It is the first time in many years that we have seen poverty rise again in the world." Rigorous action is called for to reverse this trend, she declared.
Federal Finance Minister Olaf Scholz praised the "coordinated action" of G20 states during the pandemic. Governments have "mobilised enormous sums of money to shore up employment and save jobs during the crisis". It is also good to see that a tool like short-time work "which began in Germany has now played an important part in many countries," said the Federal Finance Minister.
What is the G20?
The "Group of 20", G20 for short, brings together the world’s most important industrialised nations and emerging economies. They meet regularly to discuss global issues. Together the G20 account for over 85 per cent of global economic output, three quarters of world trade and about two thirds of the world’s population. The rotating Presidency is held by each nation in turn for a 12-month period. This year Saudi Arabia holds the Presidency.
Who belongs to the G20?
The G20 states are the USA, China, Japan, Germany, France, Brazil, the United Kingdom, Italy, Russia, Canada, India, Australia, Mexico, South Korea, Indonesia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Argentina and South Africa. The European Union also belongs to the G20 and represents all other EU member states. Spain is a permanent guest.