When in December 2019, Saudi Arabia took over the Group of 20 Presidency, it is safe to say that the world was in a different state. There was no global pandemic spreading across the globe, countries were not in lock-down, and most economies were looking much more robust than what we see now.
With the increased challenges from Covid-19, we need to push on with an agenda that aims to recover and shape the future.
A necessary agenda
The overall theme for Saudi Arabia's G20 Presidency is Realising Opportunities of the 21st Century for All. It was chosen with great care, because we must ensure that the opportunities we create are for the many.
Saudi Arabia is working to provide a "cooperative environment for the G20 to introduce policies and initiatives that will fulfill the hopes of the people of the world", as the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, announced, when Saudi Arabia took over the Presidency.
The work of the Presidency rests on three essential pillars, each of which is vital for the world's success:
- Empowering people by creating the conditions in which all people—especially women and youth—can live, work, and thrive.
- Safeguarding the planet by fostering collective efforts to protect our common resources.
- Shaping new frontiers by adopting long-term and bold strategies to share the benefits of innovation and technological advancement.
What does it mean? It means that the major economies of the world must endeavor to improve the conditions of all the peoples on the globe. It means that we must combine our efforts to protect our planet better. If we fail to protect our planet and our shared resources, we will fail in all else. Lastly, it means that the only way to achieve this is by daring to think big, and plan for the future.
In practical terms, this translates into boosting the financial inclusion in our societies and economies of women and youth. It also signifies that we must work – effectively and united – towards cleaner and more sustainable energy systems, and that we must ensure that access to it is increased. It means smart cities will have to be a natural part of the future, and it means we must keep solving the challenges and exploiting the opportunities posed by digitalisation.
"The overall theme for Saudi Arabia's G20 Presidency is Realising Opportunities of the 21st Century for All. It was chosen with great care, because we must ensure that the opportunities we create are for the many"
It is, I am happy to say, the same philosophy we follow in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia is undergoing major economic and social transformation guided by its Vision 2030, which is closely aligned with core G20 objectives of achieving macroeconomic stability, sustainable development, women empowerment, enhanced human capital, and increased flow of trade and investment.
His Royal Highness Crown Prince Mohammad Bin Salman's Vision rest on the acknowledgement that the future belongs to the youth, and that we must create the conditions for them to shape their futures. As part of this, we are investing in developing new sectors of the economy, such as tourism. A natural part of this is to protect our nature and our planet, which is why we, as a country, embrace renewable energy. We invest in its development and application, and as anyone who studies our ongoing construction projects will know, we incorporate it into the very essence of our new constructions.
Why is the G20 suited to the task?
In short, there is nothing else like it. The G20 brings together countries representing two-thirds of the world’s population and 75 percent of global trade. Its reach makes its discussions directly relevant for the majority of the world’s population. It is a great responsibility to carry. With whole sectors of the economy threatened by the pandemic, it is time for us to steer the world towards recovery.
Our G20 Presidency has been focusing on ensuring that solidarity and inclusiveness are central pillars in the recovery process, and these efforts have worked. At an unprecedented speed, the G20 countries have already injected more than $10 trillion into the economy. Together, we have also made debt relief of more than $20 billion for the least developed economies. Working with other global institutions and organisations we have focused on strengthening the global financial safety nets.
The efforts on the financial side go hand in hand with the work of the G20 Health working group. In the working group health agencies from across the globe have coordinated their efforts against the pandemic, and they continue to use it as a vital platform.
We know that the recovery process must have a long-term focus, which will shield vulnerable natural resources and people alike. It must be a recovery based on sustainability.
Let us work together
In a time when the world needs united efforts, I hope that we can combine our efforts even more. I hope that alongside the ministerial meetings of the Presidency – whether they are between the ministers for agriculture or education, energy, environment, or finance and many others – the discussions will also be brought to Brussels.
"From energy and deforestation to taxation and financial inclusion, the more we work together, the better the solutions will be"
The agendas of the G20, the European Union, and indeed Saudi Arabia are aligned; together we have the means to achieve the goals and to turn solemn declarations into more than words. From energy and deforestation to taxation and financial inclusion, the more we work together, the better the solutions will be.
The third pillar of our Presidency – the courage to plan for the long term and think big and bold – fits so well with the spirit of the digital strategies and the Green Deal of the European Union. I hope that we can use the power of synergy that we have via the G20 can ensure our thoughts and solutions spreads across the globe, to the benefit of all.
I want to finish by inviting you all to think big and bold. To think about the future, how we can realise the opportunities of the 21st Century for all, and not least how we can do it together.