"World leaders are in denial" - Campaigners respond to G20 coronavirus summit

Thursday, 26 March, 2020

Commenting on the emergency virtual summit of leaders of the G20 of powerful countries today, Nick Dearden, director of Global Justice Now said: 

"The G20 statement has many nice words, but far too few specifics. What’s more, world leaders seem in denial about the scale of the crisis. Their desperation to get back to ‘business as usual’ is totally unrealistic. Only the most radical reset, akin to a post-world war overhaul of the international economy, will allow us to rebuild the international economy in a way which means we can tackle future pandemics, not to mention the biggest long-term challenges facing us, climate change and global inequality. 

"It’s true that large sums of money will be pumped into the global economy. Talk of scientific collaboration, equitable access to treatment and supporting the under-funded World Health Organisation are welcome. And, given the ludicrously unhelpful nationalist rhetoric coming from some world leaders during this crisis, just getting these people onto the same conference call was probably an achievement. The devil will be in the detail in terms of translating these words into reality.

"But even in the best case scenario, in which the humanitarian crisis is contained, the global economy cannot return to the status quo ante. Talk of ‘private sector partnerships’ are completely out of place. Only very large-scale intervention in the markets, unprecedented debt cancellation and financial reform and massive bolstering of the public sector globally can restore employment, not to mention deal with the twin problems of inequality and climate change which present existential threats to global society. True, the G20 promised ‘whatever it takes’, but they currently under-estimate just how big that promise needs to be."

Global Justice Now called on the G20 to announce a package including:

  • Emergency funding: A significant, coordinated emergency package to help low income and vulnerable countries deal with the crisis by building up public sector capacity, emergency welfare and protecting jobs. Testing and treatment for all affected by Covid-19 must be provided free to those who need it and the World Health Organisation needs a huge funding boost
  • Vaccine collaboration: Agree on international collaboration for a Covid-19 vaccine, which will not be patented by any one corporation or country, and will be distributed free to all who need it in every country, starting with those most at risk
  • Global green stimulus: Pledge to support a massive global stimulus package aimed at supporting green industries, rather than unconditional bailouts to the fossil fuel, aviation and other polluting industries, and with a special focus on building public healthcare systems 
  • Financial reform: Initiate a process of structural financial reform including agreement on action against tax dodging, debt cancellation for countries at high-risk of debt distress, and changes to trade rules to build resilience to health emergencies.


Photo by: Number 10/Flickr