Leaders to announce global pandemic prevention plan
G7 leaders will agree on a joint statement on Saturday aimed at preventing another pandemic as they resume extensive talks at their first in-person summit in nearly two years.
The group of leading economies – Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States – will also try to demonstrate Western democratic cohesion against a resurgent China and unruly Russia.
They will be joined by the leaders of Australia, South Africa and South Korea, along with India participating from a distance, as the agenda broadens to issues of foreign policy and climate change.
The G7 will meet face-to-face for the first time since 2019, at a beachfront location in Cornwall, southwest England, after the coronavirus led to the cancellation of last year’s summit.
Leaders opened the three-day summit Friday with the expectation of a pledge to donate a billion doses of vaccine to poor countries this year and next — far too slow to end the crisis now, campaigners said.
US President Joe Biden arrived with a message of solidarity and determination in stark contrast to the isolationist stance of his predecessor Donald Trump.
After the traditional family photo and opening session on “building back better” from Covid-19, leaders spent the evening at a reception hosted by Queen Elizabeth II at Cornwall’s Eden Project.
A renowned attraction that showcases the world’s ecological resources, it also hosted a G7 meeting with Prince Charles and 10 international business leaders to discuss ramping up sustainable growth.
The G7 will also tackle climate change and protect global biodiversity this weekend, to lay the groundwork for the pivotal UN COP26 environmental summit in Scotland in November.
Leaders debate a pledge to protect at least 30 percent of the world’s land and oceans by 2030.
Saturday’s foreign policy agenda is expected to feature this year’s coup in Myanmar and the crackdown on pro-democracy supporters in Belarus, alongside tensions with Russia and China.
Most leaders will meet again in Brussels on Monday for a NATO meeting, before Biden heads to his first summit with President Vladimir Putin in Geneva, promising to send a blunt message about Russia’s behavior.
“I’ll tell you (about) it after I deliver it,” Biden told reporters on Friday.
The G7 is expected to finalize the “Carbis Bay Statement”, which includes a series of pledges to prevent a repeat of the devastation wrought by the coronavirus.
“For the first time today, the world’s leading democracies have come together to ensure that we are never again caught off guard,” British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said in remarks released ahead of the second day of the summit.
“That means learning lessons from the past 18 months and doing it differently next time.”
The statement will be published on Sunday along with the latest G7 communiqué, after a beach barbecue on Saturday evening.
The collective steps include reducing the time needed to develop and license vaccines, treatments and diagnostics for future diseases to less than 100 days, while strengthening global surveillance networks.
Leaders will pledge to increase genomic sequencing capacity and support reforms to strengthen the World Health Organization (WHO), according to Johnson’s administration, which, like the US, wants China to give new access to WHO experts to determine how Covid-19 first emerged.
WHO chief Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, who was criticized in some quarters for being too lenient with China, welcomed the health pact.
And he said the UN agency would examine a UK proposal to create a “Global Pandemic Radar” to send early warnings of future outbreaks.
“The world needs a stronger global surveillance system to detect new epidemic and pandemic risks,” Tedros said.
G7 leaders are also expected to increase aid to developing countries to build infrastructure, to offset China’s debt-fueled spending in Africa, Asia and Latin America.