Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz described 2020 as an “extraordinary year,” urging the leaders of the G20 major economies to address the vulnerabilities exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic and rise to the challenge together.
“This has been an extraordinary year. The COVID-19 pandemic has been an unprecedented shock that affected the entire world within a short period of time, causing global economic and social losses,” said King Salman in his opening remarks at the G20 Riyadh Summit.
“We will do our best to overcome this crisis through international cooperation,” he said.
“We all pledged at the onset of the crisis, over 21 billion dollars to support the global efforts to combat this pandemic.”
“We also took extraordinary measures to support our economies by injecting over 11 trillion dollars to support individuals and businesses,” he told the virtual summit.
“We also extended our social safety nets to protect those prone to losing their jobs or source of income. To this end, we have provided emergency support to the developing countries, including the G20 Debt Service Suspension Initiative to low-income countries,” the King added.
He called for addressing the vulnerabilities exposed by the coronavirus crisis “while working to protect lives and livelihoods.”
He also said G20 leaders have “a duty to rise to the challenge together during this summit and give a strong message of hope and reassurance to our people through adopting policies to mitigate this crisis."
King Salman urged them to prepare better for any future pandemics, and said G20 leaders must work towards affordable and equitable access to vaccines and other tools to combat the pandemic.
"Although we are optimistic about the progress made in developing vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics tools for COVID-19, we must work to create the conditions for affordable and equitable access to these tools for all peoples," he said.
On the environment, he called for combatting land degradation and conserving coral reefs and biodiversity.
“We need to create the conditions for a more sustainable economy, therefore we have advocated the circular carbon economy,” he said.
“We have adopted the Riyadh Initiative on the future of the WTO with the aim of making the multilateral trading system more capable to face any present or future challenges,” the King added.
“We must also continue to support the global economy and reopen our economies and our borders to facilitate the mobility of trade and people. We must provide support to the developing countries in a coordinated manner to maintain the development already achieved over the past decades,” he said.
He expressed confidence that the Riyadh summit will deliver significant and decisive results.