G20 Rome: Experts Point at Advances in COVID & Economic Recovery, Limited Success on Climate
The Group of 20 has concluded its annual summit in Italy, showing progress on global taxation and vaccines distribution but leaving many blanks on environmental issues.
For two days Rome’s EUR district was turned into a fortress: the G20 summit venues were guarded by beefed up security forces. Unlike some previous summits, such as the 2017 Hamburg G20, the meeting of the world leaders in Italy has not been marked by violent protests. Nevertheless, several rallies, including a small gathering of environmental activists were played out in the capital.
Most protests revolved around environmental issues, with groups, such as Fridays for Future
at the forefront. Other rallies around the capital were organised by union workers and opponents of the “Green Pass” COVID certificate.
Despite some discontent in the Italian capital, it looks like the host nation decided to show a positive example to fellow G20 members when it comes to national reconciliation, making it possible to work on the summit's strategic goals. Prime Minister Mario Draghi, who entered office in February of 2021, has the support of various political forces from the left, the centre, and right.
According to Deputy President of the EU Policy Committee in the Italian Chamber of Deputies Matteo Luigi Bianchi, the people’s trust allows Draghi to focus on economic growth and prosperity – the same goals that the Italian Prime Minister and his fellow leaders discussed at the G20:
“Italians trust their government with Premier Draghi, it’s a wonderful thing. The government sets sights on growth and on fewer taxes to stimulate the companies. Everything is focused on the economy.”
Discussions on the prosperity and the economy were key at both plenary sessions and bilateral meetings at the summit, and some experts say that the leaders have made serious steps forward in this area. Besides the deal on the first major overhaul of the world’s taxation system
in many years which would increase taxes for global corporations, some G20 members decided to help impoverished nations through the IMF.
“We also saw another key component: several countries signalling that they would channel some of their new special drawing rights (SDRs) just created at the International Monetary Fund, to poor countries.” – says Director of the G20 Research Group John Kirton. – “France had done it a few weeks ago. Canada yesterday said it would too, and it would give 20% of its new SDRs- the same figure as the French.“
Despite the official summit motto -“People, Planet, Prosperity” - not mentioning COVID-19 directly, it was a hot topic
for the world leaders. Even though some member states were successful in rolling out vaccines domestically, the lack of international coordination between G20 nations on how to approach the pandemic was clearly visible.
However, according to Kirton, bloc members managed to move forward when it comes to vaccine distribution.
“The big “number one thing” they had to do was to respond to the current emergency, making credible promises to provide doses, or dollars to buy doses or support for domestic manufacturing to poor countries, particularly the largely unvaccinated ones, rather than save all their own doses to give their citizens a third shot. So, yesterday it was highly encouraging to see several G20 countries make announcements of additional doses or dollars.”
Summit sessions on the environment did not seem to bring any significant breakthroughs. The leaders confirmed once again their commitment to the principles of the Paris Climate Accord. But critics, especially those who took to the streets around the G20 perimeter in Rome, say that the Paris agreement, which was signed in 2015, is not obligatory for individual countries, and many of the world’s biggest economies decide for themselves how much effort they dedicate to preserving the environment.
31 October 2021, 10:18 GMT
Nevertheless, according to Nobel laureate Riccardo Valentini, who is known for his research of forest ecology, the Rome meeting itself has become a good warm up ahead of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP26
) in Scotland which began on 31 October and will focus exclusively on the environment:
“I think that the G20 is very important now because it was very close to the conference in Glasgow. And in reality, this is the only place where leaders can speak more freely on this topic, they can exchange views and make some commitments.“
The Group of 20 was created in 1999 to address the global economy, financial stability, and environmental issues. The bloc currently consists of 19 member states and the EU. In December Italy will hand over the presidency in the G20 to Indonesia, with the next G20 summit to be held in Bali.