Speakers said the pandemic has highlighted the need for strengthened global solidarity and a recoupling of economic, social and environmental prosperity
Berlin, May 31st 2021 – German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi and UN Secretary-General António Guterres called for enhanced global solidarity and fair access to Covid-19 vaccines at the Global Solutions Summit which brought together leaders from politics, business and civil society to debate the biggest problems facing the G20 network of major economies.
The two-day event took place on May 28-29 amid the upheaval wrought by the coronavirus pandemic, which Merkel said countries can only effectively tackle by pooling their resources.
“The pandemic shows that all of the attempts to fight it at the national level will simply not be sufficient, it cannot be sufficient in order to overcome the Covid-19 crisis,” the German chancellor said. “We need to ensure access in all countries – access to vaccines, to medication, to tests, and this is true for the poorest countries in the world.”
Draghi said that Italy, which holds the G20 presidency this year, is “determined to lead a change in the paradigm: the world needs the world, not a collection of individual states.”
“Our collective priority is of course to bring the pandemic to an end – this means everywhere and not just in the rich world,” he said.
Guterres condemned vaccine nationalism and hoarding by rich countries, as well as the “totally unacceptable” inequities in vaccine distribution.
He warned that with countries in the global South falling “dramatically” behind in terms of inoculating their populations, dangerous vaccine-resistant virus mutations could arise and undermine the vaccination efforts in the global North.
“It is absolutely essential to double the production of vaccines,” the UN chief said. “We must have an equitable distribution and we are far from having it.”
World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus stressed that “health cannot be the luxury of some,” and promoted a proposed international treaty on pandemic preparedness and response.
Nobel Laureate Michael Kremer argued for reducing incentives on vaccine nationalism, saying that relying on “moral persuasion” has not been enough.
After the pandemic dealt a significant blow to the world economy, the summit examined how the economic prosperity could be “recoupled” with societal wellbeing and environmental sustainability in the future.
While the global economic outlook has improved in recent months, an economic rebound “is not enough,” according to Angel Gurría, Secretary-General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
“What we need is a full-fledged recovery; a recovery that heals the scars of this crisis; a recovery that addresses the structural weaknesses of our economies that pre-existed the crisis and have been often magnified by the crisis itself; a recovery that puts us on a sounder footing to address the systemic challenges and the threats that we are facing,” he said.
The OECD chief said his organization is developing a dashboard of indicators that track recovery in four key dimensions – strength, resilience, inclusiveness and sustainability.
The European recovery package is “not only an emergency response,” according to European Commissioner for Economy Paolo Gentiloni.
“With the first disbursement, so in the second half of this year, we will have this common initiative issued through common debt for a common purpose and … concentrated on some strategic goals: the green and the digital transition,” he said. “What we are looking for is a more stable and sustainable level of growth for the year to come.”
The summit highlighted the need for government and corporate reporting to shift away from focusing on short-term financial results, with European Financial Services Commissioner Mairead McGuinness noting the Commission’s plans for increased corporate reporting of sustainability standards.
The European Union has had many recent successes, but since “migration has always been sensitive in politics,” it is “not surprising” that producing a European consensus on migration is not one of them, said European Commissioner Margaritis Schinas.
He stressed the need for a “comprehensive win-win partnership” with countries of origin and transit that “go beyond money” and include trade preferences and visas.
In the digital realm, where many countries are struggling with disinformation and data protection issues, there is a way of using digital tools to improve government effectiveness and build more open and accountable democracies, according to Taiwan’s Digital Minister Audrey Tang.
“I think technology needs to work with the people, not just for the people,” she said, as she outlined Taiwan’s “human-centred approach” and emphasis on “collective intelligence.”
The Global Solutions Summit, a renowned problem-solving process that informs the G20 forum taking place in Rome this October, convened more than 150 speakers over two days, including ministers from Germany, Italy and Indonesia, the next G20 president.
The event took place mainly online for a second year due to the coronavirus pandemic. Some 6,500 people from across the world participated in the live-streamed sessions.
The Summit videos will be posted on the Global Solutions Initiative´s website in the coming days.
By Sophie Wingate, on behalf of the Global Solutions Initiative
Notes to the Editors
The Global Solutions Summit 2021 took a hybrid virtual and in-person format due to the Corona pandemic this year. In the studio, which was be set up in-house at the Berlin European School of Management Technology (ESMT), participants from all over the world connected with moderators and speakers attended in person from the studio. A digital platform allowed all participants not only to follow the presentations and discussions, but also to exchange ideas with other attendees. “The appeal of the physical Summit has always been the ability to meet face-to-face with many like-minded people. It is exceedingly important to us that much of this can also take place in the digital space,” stressed Dennis J. Snower.
The program and an overview of the most interesting speakers are available here: https://www.global-solutions-initiative.org/events/summit/summit-2021/
About the Global Solutions Summit
The Global Solutions Summit is held annually by the Global Solutions Initiative, a global think tank network which contributes to greater continuity and impact within G20 policy arenas, by bringing together G20 leaders and leading scientists to find solutions to the world’s great challenges. The Global Solutions Initiative is chaired by Professor Dennis J. Snower, President emeritus of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy. The Global Solutions Summit is a T20-associated event. The T20 is one of the official G20 engagement groups and comprises the most important think tanks of the G20 countries.
Registered media will get access to video footage (streaming and video-on-demand) of all sessions.
Christoph Podewils, Director of Communications
Lena van Hooven, Senior Communications Manager
About the Global Solutions Initiative
The Global Solutions Initiative is a global collaborative enterprise that proposes policy responses to major global problems, addressed by the G20, the G7 and other global governance fora. The policy recommendations and strategic visions are generated through a disciplined research program by leading research organizations, elaborated in policy dialogues between researchers, policymakers, business leaders and civil society representatives.