MARIO DRAGHI, President of the Council of Ministers of Italy, said recent years have seen a progressive weakening of the multilateralism that guaranteed peace, security and prosperity since the post-war period. Spotlighting the struggles against pandemics, climate change, biodiversity loss, inequality and terrorism — “problems that we cannot solve on our own” — he said the same issues are at the heart of Italy’s Presidency of the Group of 20 (G20). “We need to relaunch multilateralism and make it effective to meet the challenges of our times,” he stressed. While most of Europe is again open following long pandemic lockdowns, the consequences of COVID-19 will continue to be felt for a long time. He drew attention to the drastic disparities in vaccine access between high- and low-income countries, describing them as “morally unacceptable”, and warning that fewer vaccinations will mean more deaths.
Against that backdrop, he called for an urgent increase in the availability of COVID-19 vaccines for poor countries, noting that Italy fully supports the global COVAX Facility and intends to triple its donations from 15 to 45 million doses by the end of 2021. Meanwhile, economic disparities have made it more difficult for low-income countries to bounce back from the pandemic, eroding years of progress in the fight against poverty, and concerns about food systems have never been more urgent. Under the Italian Presidency, the G20 has adopted a package of economic measures to help the world’s most fragile countries overcome the effects of the pandemic and assist them in their development. Among other things, he noted, the Group supported the IMF decision to issue new special drawing rights for a total of $650 billion, and it intends to facilitate sustainable debt restructuring in countries with excessive debt levels.
He went on to outline his country’s concrete actions to improve global food security. Together with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), it launched the “Food Coalition” to combat malnutrition caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and hosted the Pre-Summit on Food Systems in Rome. On climate change — another emergency at the core of Italy’s G20 Presidential agenda — he cited ambitious national goals on the three Paris Agreement pillars, namely mitigation, adaptation and finance. Italy strongly supports the European Union’s leading role in those areas, especially and its commitment to a 55 per cent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions by 2030 and to achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. However, the European Union only accounts for 8 per cent of global emissions, while G20 countries are responsible for 75 per cent. More effective, coordinated and concreted action is needed from both wealthy and emerging economies.
Turning to other issues of concern, he said the one main challenge is the situation in Afghanistan, “where we face the risk of a social and civil catastrophe”. The international community must prevent Afghanistan from once again becoming a threat for international security, he stressed, referring to the presence of groups affiliated with Al-Qaida and Da’esh on Afghan territory. Security objectives, prevention and respect for human rights and the rule of law must be combined with efforts to tackle the economic and social drivers that lead to radicalization and violent extremism. Women’s rights and fundamental freedoms must not be dismantled. Noting that the composition of the new Afghan Government does not meet the expectations of the international community for ethnic, social and religious inclusion, he declared: “The new rulers must prove with their actions, and not only in words, that they are committed to respecting individual freedoms.”
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