A communiqué released by the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors provides a progress and status report on the G20 Action Plan, endorsed at the Ministers’ April meeting.
The High-Level Conference on Restoring Sustainable Flows of Capital and Robust Financing for Development, co-chaired by France and Saudi Arabia, supported the Ministers’ July discussions.
A Ministerial Declaration that emerged from the July G20 Digital Economy Minsters Meeting recognizes the importance of trustworthy artificial intelligence solutions, data flows, smart cities, and measurement of – and security in – the digital economy, and features policy recommendations and guidance to support action on the issues.
Following virtual meetings in July 2020, the Group of 20 (G20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors issued a communiqué that acknowledges global economic activity is expected to contract sharply in 2020 due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, but underscores the Finance Ministers’ determination to “use all available policy tools to safeguard peoples’ lives, jobs and incomes” and accelerate the economic recovery effort. The G20 Digital Economy Minsters launched a Ministerial Declaration that emphasizes the role of connectivity and digital technologies in accelerating recovery from system shocks.
The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors met virtually on 18 July 2020. The communiqué endorses the G20 Action Plan resulting from the group’s April 2020 meeting, reiterates that the Action Plan is a “living document,” and points to headway already made since its initial endorsement. An annex to the July communiqué provides a status and progress report on the Plan’s 36 commitments clustered under five pillars:
- Health response – saving lives;
- Economic and financial response – support the vulnerable and maintain conditions for a strong recovery;
- Returning to strong, sustainable, balanced, and inclusive growth once containment measures are lifted;
- International support to countries in need; and
- Lessons for the future.
The status updates, specified in the annex, highlight progress since April across a variety of SDGs. Pertaining to SDG 3 (good health and well-being), the annex highlights the World Health Assembly’s (WHA) adoption of resolution A73.1 to review lessons learned from the international response to COVID-19, and a Global Vaccine Summit, which raised over USD 500 million for Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance’s COVAX Advanced Market Commitment.
Thirty-six per cent of COVID-19-specific trade restrictions implemented by G20 economies had been repealed by mid-May.
Trade issues feature prominently in the Annex’s second pillar (economic and financial response). As referenced in the progress updates on several of the Action Plan’s commitments, the G20 Trade and Investment Ministers met in May and endorsed the G20 Actions to Support World Trade and Investment in Response to COVID-19, prepared by the Trade and Investment Working Group. The Annex also highlights that 36% of COVID-19-specific trade restrictions implemented by G20 economies had been repealed by mid-May.
Prior to the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting, the Saudi G20 Presidency and the Paris Forum had concluded a High-Level Conference on Restoring Sustainable Flows of Capital and Robust Financing for Development. The conference, co-chaired by Mohammed Aljadaan, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Finance, and Bruno Le Maire, France’s Minister of Economy and Finance, brought together finance ministers and central bank governors, the heads of international financial institutions (IFIs), executives from private companies, and members of academia. The July communiqué welcomes the conference and notes that the discussions help inform the Ministers’ work on the issues.
A G20 press release on the conference emphasizes Minister Aljadaan’s statement on the “exceptional” and “unprecedented fiscal, monetary and financial stability measures” taken by governments and central banks, including the launch of the historic Debt Service Suspension Initiative, which could provide up to USD 14 billion in immediate and critical liquidity relief by official bilateral creditors “for the poorest nations in 2020.” The conference also included breakout sessions on: 1) sustainable financing for African development; 2) policy options to tackle the current situation and support the return of capital flows to emerging economies; and 3) building further resilience and more sustainable sources of financing for the future.
The Ministerial Declaration that emerged from the G20 Digital Economy Minsters Meeting, which convened on 22 July, also acknowledges responses to COVID-19, and recognizes the importance of trustworthy artificial intelligence (AI) solutions, data flows, smart cities, and measurement of – and security in – the digital economy. The Ministers welcome examples of national policies on the issues, as well as best practices, and a roadmap towards a common framework on the digital economy, as illustrated by four annexes to the Declaration.
Annex 1 presents five Principles for the Responsible Stewardship of Trustworthy AI and five policy recommendations to support them. The principles themselves center around: 1) inclusive growth; 2) human-centered values and fairness; 3) transparency and explainability; 4) robustness, security, and safety; and 5) accountability. The policy recommendations focus on means of implementation, such as, inter alia, investment in AI research and development, shaping an enabling policy environment for AI, and international cooperation for trustworthy AI.
Annex 2 provides an overview of seven G20 Smart Mobility Practices, offering evidence-based guidance on how to leverage digital technologies and data to accelerate the diffusion of smart mobility systems. Practices include, inter alia, facilitating deployment of digital infrastructure; ensuring functional interoperability between technologies, infrastructure, and platforms; and building governments’ digital capacity. These, the document underscores, can not only ensure a more integrated and holistic perspective on mobility behavior, but also yield equitable access to services in smart cities.
Annex 3 presents ‘A G20 Roadmap toward a Common Framework for Measuring the Digital Economy.’ The Roadmap proposes an overarching policy definition of the different elements of the digital economy, and encourages G20 countries to consider: pillars around which indicators can be developed; the development of data and methodologies; regular reporting on the indicators; and the institutional arrangements needed to measure and report.
The fourth and final Annex lists G20 countries’ strategies, plans, agencies, institutions, laws, regulations, standards, and other knowledge resources relating to security in the digital economy. [G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting Communiqué, 18 July 2020] [G20 Press Release on High-Level Conference on Restoring Sustainable Flows of Capital and Robust Financing for Development] [G20 Digital Economy Finance Ministers’ Ministerial Declaration, 22 July 2020]