Photo by Number 10 via Flickr.
Over the past weekend (June 12-13), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau alongside other world leaders participated in the G7 Summit in Cornwall, United Kingdom (UK) - the first in-person meeting of global leaders since the beginning of the pandemic. The annual G7 Summit is an important opportunity for leading democratic nations to take concerted action on the world’s most pressing challenges. This year, it offered a historic opportunity to commit to global solidarity and cooperation on the COVID-19 response and recovery.
At the G7, global leaders should have stepped up with unprecedented, ambitious actions to end COVID-19 everywhere and mitigate against its devastating secondary impacts. Instead, they fell short and are letting the people of the world down.
COVID-19 vaccine dose-sharing
To end the acute phase of the pandemic, 11 billion doses of COVID-19 vaccines are needed to reach 70% of the global population before G7 leaders meet next. UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson said G7 leaders would deliver one billion doses this weekend, instead they promised only 870 million.
Secretary General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, said, "We need more than that....We need a global vaccination plan. We need to act with logic, with a sense of urgency, and with the priorities of a war economy, and we are still far from getting that."
Of the 100 million doses committed by Prime Minister Trudeau, only 13 million will be shared from Canada’s pool of excess doses, with the rest being doses funded by previously committed resources to COVAX. While we can celebrate that Canada is one of only four G20 nations to have committed its fair share investment in the ACT-Accelerator, counting monetary investments in COVAX as dose-sharing does not address the urgent need of lower-income countries needing rich countries to share excess doses NOW - not later.
Canada will receive over 100 million excess doses this year and beyond from already negotiated contracts direct from pharmaceutical companies. As a leader in doses procured per person and in percent of population with at least one COVID-19 vaccine, we have the means and responsibility to share more doses immediately. Sharing doses now will save lives and end the global pandemic sooner.
Education crisis response
Prime Minister Trudeau also had the opportunity to address a critical secondary impact of the pandemic by investing boldly in girls’ education through the Global Partnership for Education (GPE).
Results Canada, in coordination with the Canadian International Education Policy Working Group (CIEPWG), has been advocating for the government to invest CAD$500 million over five years to the GPE so that children around the world have access to quality education during and after the pandemic. It is disappointing that Canada only announced CAD$300 million over five years. By not increasing its contribution, Canada is not stepping forward to meet the urgent educational needs of the most vulnerable children, which are greater than ever.
More than a year into the pandemic, over half of all children globally are still out of school. Girls are particularly at a high risk of never returning to the classroom. An additional 250 million children and youth including those in crisis and conflict were already out of school before COVID-19. In the face of this global education emergency, Canada has missed an opportunity for bold leadership to address these challenges.
Canadian education champions are especially worried that the announcement signals a deprioritization of education from Prime Minister Trudeau. To turn the tide on the global learning crisis, the government must maintain and increase its investments in global education as part of a global COVID-19 recovery effort with a focus on the most marginalized.
Canada can still lead in global education by topping up the GPE pledge with further investments at the Global Education Summit, happening at the end of July, and committing finances towards the Together for Learning campaign. Results Canada hopes that announcements made at the G7 for girls’ education are just the beginning of Canadian leadership in global education.
The G7 Summit should have been a moment to rally behind hope and solutions to tackle the pandemic head on and to address the devastating secondary impacts and widening deadly divides of inequity being felt by the already most at risk. Global leaders did not capitalize on this moment to their full potential. To realize a just and fair global recovery from the pandemic, we must all now lead and work together to #LeaveNoOneBehind.