Global Leaders Issue G20 Call to Action Urging Immediate Pledging Conference and Task Force to Coordinate Global Response to COVID-19

Rachel S. Bauch

 

Due to the absence of a coordinated global response plan to address our deepening global health and economic crises from COVID-19, an international group of over 200 former heads of state, current government, economic, and health leaders from 74 countries – on every continent in the developed and developing world—have come together to issue a formal letter to the governments of the G20 nations urging swift and specific action.

The four-paged communique calls for action within the next few days in order to deal with the gravity and urgency whilst stressing global cooperation to tackle the entwined public health and economic crises: emergency support for global health initiatives led by the World Health Organization (WHO) and emergency measures to restore the global economy, both, of which the report states, “require world leaders to commit to funding far beyond the current capacity of our existing international institutions.”

Signatories of the communique are independent global leaders and members of non-governmental global leadership councils such as the 21st Century Council of the Berggruen Institute; The Elders; World Leadership Alliance (WLA) – Club de Madrid; and Nizami Ganjavi International Center (NGIC).

As stated in the letter, “The economic emergency will not be resolved until the health emergency is addressed: the health emergency will not end simply by conquering the disease in one country alone but by ensuring recovery from COVID-19 in all countries.”

The communique outlines an immediate plan of action for the G20, calling for the convening of a global pledging conference, the formation of an Executive Task Force and their subsequent creation of Action Plan for both global health and global economic measures. The proposal states that the Executive Task force would coordinate international efforts and allocate resources to meet the emergency global health needs. Such actions would then be confirmed in full at the upcoming IMF and World Bank meetings on condition of additional bilateral funding and capital injections from member states.  The communique also suggests a longer-term rethink of global public health and financial architecture calling for the UN, G20, and others to work together to coordinate further action.

All health systems, even the most sophisticated and best funded, are buckling under the pressures of the virus. Yet if we do nothing as the disease spreads in poorer African, Asian, and Latin American cities and fragile communities with little testing, ventilators, and medical supplies; where social distancing and washing of hands are difficult to achieve, COVID-19 will persist there and remerge with further rounds prolonging the crisis,” as the letter asserts.

The health measures call for WHO to play a coordinating role for global production and procurement of medical supplies and equipment. Following the proposal set out by the Global Preparedness Monitoring Board, the plan calls for world leaders to immediately commit $8 billion to fill in the most urgent gaps of the COVID-19 response including:

  • $1 billion for the World Health Organization (WHO) to carry out its mandate
  • $3 billion for Vaccines coordinated by the global research effort Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI)
  • $2.25 billion for the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator

Additionally, $35 billion as highlighted by WHO will be required to support countries with weaker health infrastructure and vulnerable populations to avoid global resurgence and a prolonged pandemic.

As the global health crisis has caused an inward response, so have the measures by national governments to counter the downward slide of their economies. “But a global economic problem requires a global economic response. Our aim must be to prevent a liquidity crisis turning into a solvency crisis and a global recession becoming a global depression,” as the communique reflects.

To ensure that this is better coordinated, the letter outlines a global approach to fiscal stimuli, including:

  • Provide a wider group of central banks access to the arrangements of currency swaps with the IMF entering into swap arrangements with major central banks and use those hard currency resources to provide emergency financial support to emerging and developing nations. To prevent mass redundancies, these guarantees are to be given in each country are rapidly followed through by banks in on-the-ground support for companies and individuals
  • Emerging economies will need special help, additional allocations of $500 – $600 billion in Special Drawing Rights. At the same time, ensure sufficient funding for individual countries by allowing IMF members to allow lending quota limits to be exceeded in countries most in need.
  • Recapitalize the World Bank and many of the regional development banks
  • Support UN agencies $2 billion in humanitarian aid for refugees and displaced people
  • International community: waive debt of poorer countries
  • Support developing countries with $150 billion of support needed for health and social safety nets

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