2020 G20 Summit Recap


Nikhil Polepalli

With new global problems arising every year, it has become increasingly essential for countries to come together and discuss these issues. At the G20 Summit, twenty leaders from both developed and developing countries come together to have an open forum about the most important financial and socioeconomic challenges each year. 

The countries that participate in the G20 are: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United States, and the European Union. These 20 members represent 80% of the world’s total economic output, three-fourths of all international trade, and two-thirds of the global population. 

Following the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s G20 summit was particularly essential. Hosted by Saudia Arabia, representatives from the twenty countries gathered virtually to express their commitment to global action and multilateral cooperation. The main topics discussed during the summit were: COVID-19, climate change, and debt relief.

The COVID-19 pandemic

Following the death of 1.42 million people worldwide, the summit members made it a priority to discuss ways to fight the pandemic. However, instead of joining the other leaders to discuss this issue, President Trump decided to travel to his golf club in Virginia for another round. 

Despite President Trump’s absence, the members stressed the need for stronger multinational cooperation to tackle this pandemic. EU leaders called on the G20 to provide $4.5 billion for the production and delivery of COVID-19 tools. In response, the G20 very vaguely claimed that they would make sure everyone has access to affordable COVID-19 diagnostics and therapeutics, without offering much in the way of specifics. 

Climate change

Arguably the most pressing issue facing our planet, the G20 voiced their commitment to promote a green recovery to the pandemic in line with its 2030 agenda for sustainable development. The agenda stresses the importance of substantially increasing the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix by increasing investment in clean energy technologies and phasing out fossil fuel subsidies.

Furthermore, the EU leaders also encouraged all the G20 members to ensure full implementation of the Paris Agreement. In response, President Trump expressed his opposition to the agreement. He claimed that the agreement was “one-sided” and designed to “inflict ruin on the US economy.”

Debt relief

Understandably, the pandemic has been harmful to the most vulnerable countries, particularly in Africa. 

To aid these countries, the G20 formed the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI). Any country eligible under the guidelines in the DSSI would be allowed to have their debt service payment forgiven until June 2021. 

While the members of the G20 did discuss major issues plaguing our global community, they did so fairly vaguely. They failed to come to concrete conclusions and plans to resolve these issues. There are many gaps that the G20 summit failed to fill and part of this failure could be the result of having a virtual summit and a lack of enthusiasm among all the summit members. The 2021 summit, held in Italy, will hopefully amend these problems.

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