G20 Riyadh Summit wraps up, leaders commit to fighting COVID-19, sustainable future

The G20 leaders family photo projected in Riyadh. (Twitter: @G20org)

Saudi Arabia hosted the G20 Riyadh Leaders’ Summit this weekend, bringing together world leaders from the most powerful countries and the European Union.

The summit was a culmination of Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the G20, which focused on three key areas: empowering people, safeguarding the planet, and shaping new frontiers for the future.

The summit, which took place virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, addressed the key challenges facing the world today, including COVID-19 and climate change.

Here is a summary of the key events.

Final communique

Saudi Arabia and other world leaders reinforced their commitment to supporting health care workers and developing safe and effective COVID-19 solutions, pushing the sustainability needle forward, and creating a more equal world at the G20 Riyadh summit.

“We, the G20 Leaders, meeting for the second time under the Saudi Presidency, stand united in our conviction that coordinated global action, solidarity, and multilateral cooperation are more necessary today than ever to overcome the current challenges and realize opportunities of the 21st century for all by empowering people, safeguarding the planet, and shaping new frontiers,” read a statement from the final communique of the G20 leaders.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz chairing the final session of the second day of the G20 Riyadh Summit. (g20riyadhsummit.org)

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz chairing the final session of the second day of the G20 Riyadh Summit. (g20riyadhsummit.org)

“We are committed to leading the world in shaping a strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive post-COVID-19 era,” it continued.

Coronavirus commitments

As coronavirus continues to threaten lives and livelihoods in myriad sectors, G20 sought to ensure support across sectors, including trade and investment, transportation and travel, sustainable development, access to opportunities, gender inclusivity, and education.

At the summit, the countries pledged more than $21 billion to the fight against coronavirus.

G20 efforts have temporarily extended social protection measures to 645 million people according to estimates from the International Labour Organization.

The countries also pledged to pay for a fair distribution of coronavirus vaccines to ensure poorer nations were not left out and to extend debt relief for those countries.

The G20 leaders said in their final declaration they will “spare no effort” to ensure the fair distribution of vaccines against the coronavirus worldwide, and support poor countries whose economies have been hit by the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Sustainability

The Kingdom also highlighted its Circular Carbon Economy for clean energy, noting their “big plans“ for renewable energy, including wind and solar which will generate 50 percent of the country’s electricity by 2030.

A statement from the European Commission’s President Ursula von der Leyen said the G20 summit could be a new beginning for global cooperation.

She noted that the US would be welcome to return to the Paris Climate Agreement following President-elect Joe Biden’s inauguration. President Donald Trump announced in 2017 his intention to pull out from the agreement.

Trump, however, has defended his decision, calling it “unfair and one-sided.”

“2020 has been a very difficult year. But the G20 rose to the challenge and it provided leadership. In fact, the G20 has proven a strong pillar and a key partner for the European Union, helping us to keep international cooperation running,” she said.

In one G20 session, presenters gave examples of how to create a more sustainable world. One of which would be a closed-loop shipping system where boxes and packaging are reused; another would be switching from wooden shipping pallets to plastic pallets that can be recycled and can be used up to 40 times more than their wooden counterparts.

Education

On education, the final communique read “We stress the importance of continuity of education in times of crisis through the implementation of measures to ensure safe in-person learning, effective quality distance and blended teaching and learning, as appropriate. Inclusive, equitable and quality education for all, especially for girls, remains key to unlocking a brighter future and fighting inequalities.”

Read more:

At a glance: G20 Engagement Groups and their roles

What is the G20, and what is different at this year’s Riyadh summit?

This year's G20 Riyadh summit in pictures

Legacy

In his closing remarks, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abzulaziz said “We have achieved a lot this year. We have upheld our commitment to continue to work together to rise to the challenge I of the COVID-19 pandemic in order to safeguard lives and livelihoods and protect the most vulnerable groups. We have adopted important policies that will achieve recovery all the way to an economy that is resilient, sustainable, inclusive, and balanced.”

This handout picture released by G20 Saudi Arabia on September 22, 2020, shows a general view of the virtual G20 Joint Extraordinary Meeting of Trade and Investment Ministers in the capital Riyadh, to discuss strengthening trade and investment policy cooperation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

This handout picture released by G20 Saudi Arabia on September 22, 2020, shows a general view of the virtual G20 Joint Extraordinary Meeting of Trade and Investment Ministers in the capital Riyadh, to discuss strengthening trade and investment policy cooperation amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking from the virtual summit that gathered world leaders from the most powerful countries and the European Union, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said “The G20, since its foundation, has been an essential link among our countries. It has demonstrated the vitality of its role, over the years, to deal with economic, financial, social, and environmental issues.”

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Last Update: Monday, 23 November 2020 KSA 11:10 - GMT 08:10
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