Former UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called for a return to greater multilateralism among world leaders to help combat the challenges of COVID-19 and climate change.
Ban was speaking during the first day of the T20 Summit on Saturday, a virtual event convened by Saudi Arabia as the Kingdom holds the presidency of the G20 for this year. Think20 (T20) is the research and policy advice network of the Group of 20 (G20), serving as a place to build ideas that the G20 can put into action.
“No country is an island in today’s increasingly interconnected world. One where trade, technology, and tourism brings us together more than ever before … In recent years our biggest challenges remain intrinsically global,” Ban said.
“We require solutions underpinned by multilateral cooperation … Multilateral cooperation is the glue that holds us all together,” he said.
Ban noted that the world is currently facing several global crises and in particular highlighted the ongoing challenge of the coronavirus pandemic and climate change.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to upend our economies, societies and way of our lives. Meanwhile, climate change is worsening with super storms, extreme heat, flooding, fires, and droughts, all expanding in both frequency and intensity,” Ban said.
“Both pandemics and climate change are inherently global issues which require a strong multilateral response and increased international collaboration,” he added.
Ban concluded his remarks by calling on T20 summit speakers and participants, along with G20 Riyadh Summit leaders to “seize the opportunities in front of us and return to elevated multilateral cooperation.”
The T20 Summit is traditionally held at a physical event in the host country, but this year organizers took the decision to hold the event virtually as a result of the impact of COVID-19.
“As the world began to react to the increasing threat of COVID-19 and priorities shifted, T20 continued to see high levels of engagement as it transitioned from physical meetings to a virtual conference,” Dr Fahad M Alturki, the vice president of research at King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC), and chair of T20 said in the lead up to the conference.
The two-day summit is the capstone event to the T20 summit season, which has so far already seen over 4,000 registrants attend 11 webinars featuring over 153 speakers, the highest amount of participation in the think tank engagement group since T20’s inception.
The Summit will conclude on Monday, with T20 presenting its Communique to representatives of the G20. The document comprises of 32 policy proposals across seven categories for consideration by G20 leaders at the G20 Virtual Leaders’ Summit next month.