We can safely say that the G20 Summit, which concluded on Sunday, was one of the most valuable and prestigious to be held in the past decade. This was despite the fact that it was held virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic, which deprived its leaders of side meetings. Modern technology has, however, opened up alternate paths and wider opportunities for meetings.
The G20, with Saudi Arabia at the helm this year, demonstrated its strength and ability to mend human wounds inflicted by the pandemic. It also demonstrated the importance of people forging ahead together as one towards safety and a future where everyone can be healthy and proposer.
Real men emerge during times of crisis. Those who tuned in to the speech of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz detected an unconventional way to confront an extraordinary crisis that upended the world.
The pandemic had taken the world by surprise and left it facing the frightening unknown. The G20 was indeed up to the challenge, especially when it expanded social safety nets to protect the most vulnerable, poor and people at risk of losing their jobs and sources of income.
Security and peace of mind are needed by the world in these trying times. People need a glimmer of hope in the search for an effective vaccine that can put an end to the virus. Countries in debt also need an opportunity to catch their breath after the pandemic crippled the global economy.
The best thing the G20 Summit did was steer clear of a clash of ideologies. It focused on methodologies, or modern means to resolve problems, starting from the position that humanity can only be allowed to stand up on its feet by humans. People are the goal and the means.
The spirit and spirituality of the Kingdom was present at the summit, away from empty slogans that do nothing in raising the hopes of the world. Perhaps the first and most important ray of hope offered at the summit was King Salman’s talk of progress in developing a vaccine and diagnostic tools for the coronavirus.
The obstacle of the unfair distribution of wealth in the world could have been a hurdle in the fair distribution of the vaccine. However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s remarks from the G20 platform that the group was determined to distribute 2 billion doses of the vaccine may have put many minds at ease.
Moreover, China’s President Xi Jinping stressed that his country was ready to cooperate with the world to find a virus antibody, calling for greater global coordination in policies that can facilitate the delivery of the vaccine throughout the world.
The United States, significantly, did not leave much of an impact on the summit. US President Donald Trump’s few words focused on internal American affairs, despite recent announcements by US companies of reaching a breakthrough in vaccine research and trials.
Watching the opening speech at the summit, one realizes that the Kingdom is leading the world on the path that will allow for the fair distribution of the vaccine, which will be available at affordable prices. The vaccine will be made available to all people without discrimination. This is a truly humane position, especially amid the widening gap between the rich and poor. The world’s transformation into a “global village”, however, makes it difficult for people to be left behind.
Furthermore, the summit displayed foresight about how to address future pandemics. Prevention could be better than delayed treatment.
Debt suspension was another important issue that made the Riyadh summit an extraordinary event. The leaders realized that they needed to rise to the challenge and reassure peoples by approving decisions aimed at confronting the crisis. They therefore, agreed to extend a freeze in debt service payments by poorest countries to spring 2021 with the possibility of extending it to summer to allow people to catch their breath. The suspension may not be enough to address the impact of the pandemic on the economy. Observers believe the crisis is worse than the 2008 financial collapse, comparing it to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
The G20 Summit can be viewed as championing the weak throughout the world, starting with women and the youth. It focused on providing them with job opportunities and kept up with the position that “man is the cause and the solution.”