Since assuming the G20 Presidency in December 2019, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has been in the driving seat for the world's leading economies. The Group of 20, accounting for 80 percent of global GDP, shaping the World's economy and charting its course ahead. It is a forum without any parallel, and with this strategic influence also comes responsibilities and commitments.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is one of the youngest countries in the G20, and we are proud to be undertaking a huge economic and social transformation for our people. We are a country with a desire for action and progress as it was evident from the beginning that this Presidency is based on openness, humility, and pride, the sole way to accomplish the opportunities of the 21st century for all.
As our Presidency is coming to an end, many achievements, initiatives and partnerships have been launched these past few months, during a challenging time the nations are living. It is evident that the world has changed drastically and unpredictably. The Global pandemic of COVID-19 is on the top of everyone’s agenda, it is questioning the strength, efficiency, resilience and reliability of the economies, societies and healthcare systems. It remains crucial to alleviate the consequences of the pandemic, and we will continue to do so, but we must make sure that we do not stop there. This pandemic has offered the world an opportunity to learn from the past, build new foundations and reinvent multilateralism and collaboration amongst everyone. We must deal with what is immediately ahead of us while thinking boldly and preparing our societies for the future. From climate policy to Artificial Intelligence, there are more than enough challenges that must be addressed by the G20 to address, and opportunities that all nations must benefit from.
"This pandemic has offered the world an opportunity to learn from the past, build new foundations and reinvent multilateralism and collaboration among us all"
The G20’s agenda remains full, aiming to create consensus on issues spanning from taxation to interfaith dialogue, in addition to climate measures, and not least the economic empowerment of women. Here, I will highlight five areas where the Presidency and the Group of 20 are undertaking remarkable efforts:
- Coordinating health efforts
From the beginning of the pandemic, the G20, under the Presidency of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, quickly responded to the global health crisis by becoming the hub for coordinating the many different efforts. From meetings of Ministers of Health and their experts to the financial manoeuvres needed, there has been rarely so much focus – or consensus – on the global healthcare needs. More than USD21 billion were raised to support health systems and for vaccine research while ensuring that the most fragile economies could divert funds to deal with the outbreak.
- Debt relief and beyond
The G20 completed the agreement on the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI), suspending debt payments until mid2021, with over USD14 billion in debt relief, ensuring that the poorest countries will not be hit extra hard because of their debt burden. Recognising that debt suspension is not enough, the Presidency managed to move beyond debt relief. Just before the Leaders’ Summit in November, the relevant ministers will finally approve the Common Framework for Debt Treatments beyond the DSSI, paving the way to move beyond debt relief for the neediest countries.
- Economic stability
The G20 continues to fight to ensure long-term fiscal sustainability and financial stability. As part of this, USD11 trillion has been injected into the economy, to protect jobs, lives and livelihoods, safeguard the economy, and mitigate the impact of the pandemic. It is the part of G20 that grabs fewer headlines but recovering from the pandemic would be even harder without these serious actions.
- Empowering people
From the beginning of the Presidency it was clear that we needed to empower people by unleash opportunities for them. The Presidency therefore also aimed to improve the conditions under which our citizens work and thrive. This included increasing the level of ambition for empowering women and youth, encouraging the creation of quality jobs and social protections for all workers, promoting education and skills, enabling person-centred health systems, scaling up efforts for sustainable development and fostering inclusive and sustainable growth.
- The digital future
Despite of the upheaved times, we must look to the future. The G20, under the Presidency of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, has positioned the digital agenda as a core issue for the most powerful economies to march its efforts, and coordinate and share best practices. In addition to having fully operational regulations in place, especially on digital taxation, and artificial intelligence. Staying true to the promise of shaping new frontiers, crucial progress was made on encouraging and preparing for the adoption of new technologies. Looking above and beyond our planet, the Presidency emphasised the commitment to expand and increase cooperation on the continued exploration of Space.
As the G20 leaders’ summit approaches (21-22 November 2020), I was delighted to host the G20 Sherpa of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, H.E Dr. Fahad Almubarak, in a virtual event on 4 November 2020. The event, “An Essential G20 Summit at a Crucial Time”, saw the participation of my distinguished ambassador colleagues from the G20 countries as well as ambassadors and representatives from other countries and international organisations. The event provided insights on the efforts made by the G20 Saudi presidency and the hard work of the Sherpas in the various fields within the G20 framework, and particularly the Global Covid-19 recovery plans.
Our Presidency is coming to an end, I wish the best of luck to our friends in Italy, who will take over from December 2020.
The G20 helps bring the world together to face global challenges and to secure a better future for all, that's why we all need the G20 now more than ever.