G20 advisers on Tuesday called for multilateral solutions to global crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate emergency in their first face-to-face meeting in two years.
The one-day meeting in the southern Italian city of Matera focused on how to improve cooperation, re-establish the global economy after the pandemic, and how to promote sustainable development in Africa.
“The pandemic has highlighted the need for an international response to transnational emergencies,” Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio told his G20 colleagues.
The G20 member countries account for more than 80% of the world’s GDP, 75% of global trade and 60% of the planet’s population. Among the representatives at Matera were senior diplomats from the United States, Japan, the United Kingdom, France, Germany and India.
However, advisors from China, Brazil and Australia chose to follow the discussions by sending a video, while Russia and South Korea sent their deputy ministers.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas lamented the absence of the Beijing and Moscow ministers. “When you meet, we also need to talk to each other. We need a dialogue with Russia and China,” he said during a break.
Before the meeting, Maas said he would express his dissatisfaction with the way he believes China and Russia have offered Covid-19 vaccines to bolster their standing towards certain countries.
“It is not about getting short-term geostrategic advantages,” he said.
The US Secretary of State, Anthony Blinken, reiterated the need to provide more vaccines to poor countries, which have so far received much lower doses than rich countries.
“To end the epidemic, we need to move more vaccines to more places,” he said, adding that the G20 would help low-income countries deal with “significant debt vulnerabilities” exacerbated by the coronavirus.