Briefing dello Sherpa G20 dell’Italia, S.E. Ambasciatore Luigi Mattiolo, al Meeeting informale della Plenaria dell’Assemblea Generale sulla Presidenza italiana del G20 nel 2021 —
Dear President Shahid, dear Under-Secretary-General Liu. Excellencies, esteemed colleagues.
It is a pleasure for me to once again address the General Assembly, bringing with me the results of a year of intense work and collaboration with our G20 partners and invited guests.
Despite the ample differences existing between the countries represented within the G20, dialogue, friendship and mutual efforts to reach a common understanding have, once again, paid off. The G20 was able to find agreement, and to take a number of steps forward in many different sectors. While some of these may not be the giant leaps some of us may have hoped for, they are all steps in the right direction, which the G20 has taken together.
When I last had the honor to address the General Assembly, the response of the G20 to the pandemic was in its early stages. There is no denying that, as a global community, we are still struggling to put this dramatic health crisis behind us, but we have come a long way in the past 6 or 7 months.
As Presidency of the G20, we have tried to keep a balanced focus on two deeply connected facets of the necessary global response: reacting to the urgent needs of the present while strengthening our preparedness for the future.
The Global Health Summit, which as you know Italy co-hosted in May with the European Commission, gave a strong boost to both of these priorities, defining a number of shared principles for the future while also providing concrete support for Countries in need. Vaccines were also recognized as a global public good, paving the way for further work on global distribution and on ensuring universal access.
At the G20 Summit, at the end of October, G20 Leaders recognized the importance of the WHO’s global vaccination strategy goals of vaccinating at least 40 percent of the population of all countries by the end of this year, and 70 percent by mid-2022. We agreed to take steps to boost production and facilitate international flows of vaccines and other essential medical products, and supported the extension of ACT-A’s mandate to further pursue global action against COVID-19.
Looking to the future, the G20 built on our Presidency’s year-long efforts to foster better coordination between international finance and health by establishing a Joint G20 Finance and Health Task Force, which will help enhance dialogue and cooperation regarding pandemics.
As we all know, the global health crisis has had devastating effects worldwide, and severely hampered the progress made towards the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. With this in mind, and given the overarching common objective of reducing inequalities and eradicating poverty, Italy organized the first G20 Foreign Affairs and Development joint Ministers Meeting, which also sent a strong signal regarding the critical issue of food security with the Matera Declaration.
We also pursued the important work on international finance in the context of the pandemic and of the need to recover together as quickly as possible, responding to immediate liquidity needs through the extension of the suspension of interest repayments on debt until the end of this year.
Looking at a longer horizon, we also asked the IMF to issue a new SDR allocation worth 650 billion USD – the largest of its kind – and were able, for the first time, to come to an agreement on their voluntary reallocation in favor of vulnerable countries. The reallocation of 45 billion USD has already been pledged by the G20 in Rome.
Gender equality is another issue that was given particular attention by the G20 this year. Among other initiatives, we held the first G20 Conference on Women’s Empowerment in Santa Margherita Ligure, in August, and were able to commit to implement the newly drafted G20 Roadmap Towards and Beyond the Brisbane Goal as a means to strengthen women’s full and equal participation in the world of work.
The concept that human and environmental well-being go hand-in-hand was another qualifier of the Italian Presidency, and the G20 was able to converge towards the objective of protecting 30% of global land and 30% of global oceans by 2030. It also gave new attention to the key issues of circular economy and sustainable cities, including through the endorsement of a G20 Platform on SDG Localization and Intermediary Cities.
We made headway on the application of the One Health approach, and urged the Commission for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources to implement its long-standing commitment in the context of the Antarctic Treaty System, with particular regard to the Marine Protected Areas system in East Antarctica, the Weddell Sea and the Antarctic Peninsula.
We also took an important step in the direction of reforestation, by sharing the collective goal of planting 1 trillion trees globally by 2030.
This is, of course, a goal that has much to do with one of the critical global challenges that was addressed by the G20: climate change.
The G20’s task, first and foremost, was to generate a common understanding, a common sense of direction, also as a means to help pave the way for COP26 in Glasgow. I believe the G20 succeeded in this endeavour, although the real challenge – achieving our national and our shared goals – remains ahead of us.
A key part of the common understanding reached at the Rome Summit is the recognition of scientific evidence as the proper guide for our policy actions. This is crucial for our future on this planet, as decision-making built upon clear, shared information is the only way to determine common solutions.
On this basis, we were able to converge on the relevance of limiting the rise in global temperature to 1.5° C, which as you all know is a key condition to avoid the most catastrophic impacts of climate change.
The G20 partners therefore committed to take the necessary steps to achieve net zero emissions by or around mid-century, including by defining consistent Long-Term Strategies and by taking action this decade, updating and enhancing our Nationally Determined Contributions where necessary.
We also raised the attention on methane emissions, and took important strides ahead on the international financing of unabated coal-fired power plants, as a means to avoid not only a runaway increase of coal-based emissions, but also unnecessary technological lock-in by recipient countries. International finance from G20 members in the energy sector will therefore, starting next year, bring with it modern technology, to the benefit of all.
The global green transition will entail a profound transformation of our economies, which must be carefully planned, and guided by the best available science. This implies research, transfer of clean technologies and multilateral collaboration, but it also implies embedding climate and broader environmental issues into the international financing discourse.
This is why, as G20 Presidency, we have worked hard to integrate climate strategies into the work of the G20 Finance Track. This has led to the establishment of a new Sustainable Finance Working Group and to the endorsement by the G20 Leaders of a specific Sustainable Finance Roadmap. I am convinced that this will be key in furthering and supporting climate action worldwide in the foreseeable future.
The G20 also made important progress on a number of other sectors. We reached a historic agreement on international taxation, which seemed out of reach at the start of the Presidency. We introduced Culture within the G20 work streams, with a focus on safeguarding national heritage, and reached agreement on several innovative operational documents related to anti-corruption.
We also took significant steps towards enhancing an effective use of digital tools and reducing the digital divide, as one of the drivers of global inequalities. An important element of the discussions among the G20 was also the need to protect the most vulnerable, including children.
Finally, with regard to the digital environment and to the broader world of research, we converged upon the crucial role of scientific progress in improving human lives, and agreed to ensure that scientific research is carried out in a responsible manner, taking into account the risks stemming from cutting-edge technologies.
Many of you will have read the Rome Declaration, and the many G20 Ministerial Declarations adopted under the Italian Presidency, which contain the achievements I have tried to briefly outline, along with many more. In an effort to condense the political significance of this far-reaching consensus effort by the G20, I would only focus on two key take-aways:
First, multilateralism is very much alive, and dialogue, even when it is long and complex, remains the only effective way to address our global challenges;
Second, the G20, despite its difference, is indeed able to work together and find a common direction. While its membership is not nearly as diverse as the UN’s, I believe this is encouraging for all the work streams within the United Nations as well. Multilateralism is alive, and can – and must – work.
I thank you for your attention.
I really thank you all for your comments as well as for your kind words of appreciation for our work as Presidency which was made possible only by the strong and constant cooperation and dialogue we established among us within the G20 group. Many of the issues that you have raised will naturally be part of the G20 discussions in the future, first of all under Indonesian presidency, which is going to begin formally tomorrow.
As a member of the so-called “Troika”, Italy, I want to reassure you, will do its own part to support the new Presidency and to ensure a constructive dialogue on these important topics which are extremely relevant to all of us. We will equally maintain health, climate change, and the fight against inequalities at the heart, at the core of our posture within the G20.
Thank you again and “semoga berhasil” – best of luck – to our Indonesian colleagues!
Thank you very much.