G20 wrap: some progress, some omissions, fingers crossed for follow-though

By: Results Canada Published: 14/09/2023

On September 9th, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined other world leaders at the G20 Summit in India to determine the course the world takes in the midst of cascading challenges and crises. 

In the lead-up to the Summit, Results has been pushing for Canada, along with other G20 countries, to focus on the needs of the most marginalized communities and commit to improving the international financial system.  We also advocated for an enhanced equitable response and recovery for future pandemic threats, particularly through expanded access to primary health care. We put together eight recommendations for Canada’s engagement.      

On September 10th, a joint Leaders’ Declaration was released outlining commitments to build a better future. Here’s our take on the declaration and overall outcome of the Summit:   

the good  

commitment to end TB, eradicate polio and strengthen primary healthcare 

Results called for G20 countries to reaffirm their commitment to the fight against Tuberculosis (TB), Malaria, HIV/AIDS, and polio and recognize the importance of primary healthcare and the community health workforce that support this fight.  

We were pleased that the G20 Leaders’ Declaration committed to eradicating polio and ending ongoing epidemics like HIV/AIDS, TB, and malaria. There are also commitments towards strengthening primary health care and health workforce and improving essential health services and health systems to better than pre-pandemic levels within the next 2-3 years. These commitments should be followed by concrete actions at key global moments, like the upcoming United Nations High-Level Meeting on TB on September 22nd. For more on what you can do to get Canada to make the commitments we need at this meeting, check out our current call to action.           

commitment to delivering quality education  

Results has been drawing attention to the global learning crisis, especially in the wake of COVID-19 and school closures, that has left millions of children unable to read a simple text or do a basic math by the age of 10.  

The declaration recognizes and specifically draws attention to the importance of foundation learning, which is comprised of literacy, numeracy, and socio-emotional skills that act as the primary building blocks of education and employment. 

commitment to improve women’s livelihoods 

Economic inclusion is a key pillar of Results’s advocacy to advance progress towards ending extreme poverty. We were pleased to note the leaders’ support for the acceleration of proven solutions that improve women’s livelihoods, including through bundled interventions like coaching, and technical assistance.  

what was missing?  

concrete financial commitments to pandemic preparedness 

Results called for leaders to articulate clear sources of funding in support of medical countermeasures – from vaccine development to diagnostics and treatment –  to prepare for the next pandemic.  

The declaration instead endorsed temporary potential solutions with no firm financing commitments towards pandemic preparedness, prevention, and responses. Where new sources of financing were identified for global challenges – like the International Monetary Fund’s Resilience and Sustainability Trust – pandemic preparedness, prevention, and response were not mentioned as areas for potential investment.   

debt suspension clauses for pandemic and climate events 

Countries that borrow from lending institutions – including multilateral and bilateral lenders and private institutions – during an adverse event (flood, drought, disease outbreak) find it extremely challenging to continue to service their debt while funding the measures required to deal with the event. We called on the leaders to push lending institutions to allow countries facing a pandemic or a climate-related disaster to postpone repayment of debt until they have had time to deal with their emergency.  

While the declaration acknowledges the need for timely resolution of the debt situation, there’s no mention of suspending debts when countries are in the midst of a crisis.      

final thoughts 

Overall, the Summit showed that there is still a lot of advocacy required to ensure Canada and the world champion bold reforms in the global financial system to reduce debt, reverse inequities, and ensure more funding is available to invest in health, education, and poverty alleviation in the most crises-affected countries. Results will continue to track this and push Canada to be a #GameChanger by doing better and more at key global moments. 

There are two upcoming opportunities for Canada to go past generalities and make truly measurable commitments in the coming weeks and months:   

  • The United Nations High-Level Meeting (UN-HLM) on TB on September 22 provides an opportunity for Canada to lead the world by recommitting to eradicate TB.  (You can advocate for Canada’s meaningful involvement – check out our current call to action
  • Canada can maintain its reputation as a leader in quality education, while expanding impact for foundational skills by restoring investment in quality education at the Global Refugee Forum this December. 

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