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Covid-19: G7 leaders pledge to learn lessons from the pandemic

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After the first contacts, the leaders of the great powers of the G7 enter, Saturday, June 12, in the heart of the matter with the menu of discussions the prevention of health crises and the defense of multilateralism.

The leaders of the great powers of the G7 displayed a united front on Friday, at the start of their summit in England, to work to put the world back on its feet after the pandemic, by sharing a billion anti-Covid vaccines to begin with.

Pandemic obliges, the heads of state and government nudged each other and stood at a distance for the traditional family photo, on the beach of the English seaside resort of Carbis Bay, in Cornwall.

This meeting scheduled until Sunday, the first in person in almost two years, allows the return of work meetings but also discreet asides to move forward on the crises of the moment.

“This is a meeting that really needs to be held because we have to make sure we learn from the pandemic and not repeat some mistakes,” said British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

He hailed an “extraordinary opportunity” for the great powers to “learn the lessons of the pandemic” and “to build back better”, in a “greener” and “fairer” way.

Joe Biden had already set the tone, signaling that the summit marked the “return” of the United States on the international scene after the isolationist years of Donald Trump. “I look forward to strengthening our commitment to multilateralism and working with our allies and partners to build a more just and inclusive world economy,” the US president said on Twitter.

It seeks to rally a united front among its partners against Russia and China, which has already criticized the American desire to form “cliques”.

After the roundtable and a commitment to the education of girls, and before tasting between them gazpacho, roasted turbot and pavlova with British strawberries, the leaders of the club of the rich gathered around Queen Elizabeth II with his heirs Charles and William and their wives, under the greenhouses of “Eden Project”, a showcase garden of biodiversity.

After a reception, the 95-year-old sovereign, who lost her husband Philip at the beginning of April, took part in a new group photo.

Faster vaccines

The official summit program features above all the pandemic and the recovery of a sluggish global economy.

The leaders will sign Saturday the “declaration of Carbis Bay”, presented by Downing Street as “historic”, a series of commitments to prevent any further pandemic, such as shortened deadlines to develop vaccines.

They must commit to a more equitable sharing of anti-Covid vaccines by the rich countries, which have monopolized a maximum of doses to the detriment of the poorest.

Faced with the multiplication of calls for solidarity, leaders must promise a billion doses to eradicate the pandemic by 2022, including 500 million from the United States and 100 million from the British.

It is “too slow”, lamented the British David Nabarro, of the World Health Organization (WHO), on Times Radio, echoing the criticisms expressed by NGOs. The latter are calling for stronger actions, such as the lifting of patents on vaccines to allow mass production.

“It is in everyone’s interest to be vaccinated, the sooner the better,” said Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary General, saying that vaccines should be considered a “global public good” and advocating for increased production capacities.

In an interview with AFP, the director of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) Emer Cooke called for “the whole world” to have access to vaccines.

Climate emergency

Another priority is the climate emergency before the major UN climate conference (COP26) scheduled for November in Scotland.

Boris Johnson aims for a “green industrial revolution”, with the aim of halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2030. To preserve biodiversity, he wants the G7 to commit to protecting “at least 30%” of land and oceans by this time.

The club of seven is also expected to promote investment in green infrastructure in developing countries to stimulate and decarbonize their economies.

Despite the displayed unity, the European leaders intend to remind Boris Johnson of their attachment to the agreements signed as part of the Brexit on Northern Ireland, which London wants to question in the face of the anger in the British province, during a tête-à-tête on Saturday.

A spokesperson for Boris Johnson stressed that the leader was not necessarily seeking a solution at the G7 but that he would remind them of the “challenges” posed by the Northern Irish protocol.

With AFP

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