The C20 Summit attempted to tackle modern day slavery on the World Day for Decent Work and served as a pressing reminder of the need for a new social contract that provides social protection universally. The panel noted the C20 commitments on protecting women, as a large proportion of immigrant workers are women and have been exposed to greater vulnerability due to the COVID-19 pandemic and a looming climate crisis. Extant legislative measures were acknowledged as helpful but the panellists also stressed the need for increasing access to quality education for women globally, recognizing the value of all forms of work including unpaid care work, and a change in social customs and attitudes that promote discrimination and Otherizing of certain social groups, rendering them open to abuse and exploitation. An understanding of social protection tools such as due diligence for human rights in supply chains, instituting universal basic income globally, including the voices of victims of modern slavery in this dialogue and incorporating socioeconomic nuances in response frameworks, political will to understand and upend power dynamics within and between countries and societies, a collective and multi-sectoral action plan, and universal proliferation of legislation that bans goods and services produced with forced labour are some mechanisms through which the gap between legislation and effective implementation can be bridged.
Day 2 of the Summit explored the relationship between business and human rights, demonstrating that it has become increasingly significant for businesses to position themselves in partnerships with both CSOs and government institutions to ensure that a just and ethical business practice takes place across and within countries. The speakers outlined how in today’s world it is more easily available for value chains to benefit every stakeholder as entities come together to realize goals which are beneficial for all. The discussion highlighted the need for business to become aware and align themselves with the UN’s Guiding Principles that ensure best practice to be implemented across global supply chains while benefiting the stakeholders involved. There was also an in-depth exploration of ways that companies can be measured in terms of their efforts toward respecting human rights and how these methods are shared publicly for companies to evaluate their own conduct. The topic of NAPs was heavily discussed as panelists offered insight into how NAPs can be implemented effectively in different regions, while remaining in sync with the international narrative around the protection of human rights.
The aim of the dialogue on bridging the gender gap was to explore and provide potential policy solutions that could work globally to advance the gender objectives of the G20. The session participants emphasized the need for women to have mandates that would empower them to fulfil their roles effectively. Solutions were presented to motivate the private sector to work toward closing the gender gap, such as the suggestion of offering preferential interest rates and credit ratings to companies who implement mechanisms that address gender inequality. Technology was labelled as a helpful tool for women as they are protected from physical harassment in this space, whereby they are also able to develop their skillset through online learning. The need for visibility was discussed since this would enable women holding prominent roles to engage effectively with stakeholders while allowing their performance to be more easily recognised. It was agreed upon that such exposure would inspire the next generation to realise their capabilities as women and educate them of the possibilities that lie ahead. Finally, there was a consensus that men must be invited to dialogue on the topic of gender inequality in a pragmatic and open fashion to create change alongside women through a well-balanced partnership.
In a session exploring the relationship between information and communication technology and corruption, it was emphasized that it is imperative for CSOs to maintain their independence when using such tools for their advocacy in a world increasingly dependent on digital tools. The session explored ways to combat corruption whilst maintaining an objective positioning. The speakers explored the layers behind methods of exposing corruption in both a national and international context. Partnerships between CSOs and governments were encouraged in order to ensure a transparent and productive exchange of information. It was highlighted how the use of ICT has generated expectation from government through their investment to achieve positive results in the fight against corruption. Different methods of doing so were discussed, such as through automating government processes to decrease the risk of misconduct, as well as implementing transparency reforms to focus on opening up the states and making its actions accessible to citizens. During times of the pandemic, it was emphasized that corruption vulnerabilities are heightened since the existing challenge of public access to data prevents the exposure of public allocations intended to fight covid-19. Finally, the panelists iterated the significance and capabilities of using basic tools to identify misconduct through simple data analysis such as the use of spreadsheets, while acknowledging the advantages of owning enough resources to use more sophisticated tools to analyze big data.
Over 2,000 participants from around the world tuned into the crucial session on Global Citizens in the Age of Populism where panelists highlighted the need for intergenerational globally competent citizens. Speakers addressed four broad themes related to the need for structurally embedded Global Citizenship Education and Education for Sustainable Development into the world’s education systems:
– The rise of populism and the forces at work
– Strengthening international cooperation, with the opportunity for COVID to be an amplifying catalyst
– Local community decision making and the rise of participative democracy
– Global competence – Young people, citizenship & responsibility
Speakers agreed that it is the youth who are creating movements towards global citizenship. The movement begins from youth agency and youth contribution to society building at the local level, which can then be fostered from there. However, we need to connect youth voices with established institutes, and it was identified that there are insufficient platforms where young people can engage meaningfully with national and global leaders. It was determined that it is crucial to use the positive forces of nationalism to extend to a universal force that draws us all together globally. No longer can small island states and vulnerable countries suffer because of the Global North acting in the name of nationalism. We need to move to participatory democracy; for citizens to become active regional citizens, national citizens and global citizens. Civil society already plays a very important role in this, and the government and private sectors need to do their part.
Today’s sessions brought together important dialogue around what it is to be an effective leader in digital age. Discussion emphasized the importance of revaluating what really matters and the opportunity costs of neglecting to assess how to maintain a “human centered’ environment as we move to embed ourselves further and further in the digital era.
The sessions explored the importance of accountability throughout different sectors and financial inclusion of NPO’s. The notion of development was critically evaluated through multiple lenses, and discussion on the environment in which those actors tasked with carrying out this development was critically questioned. Speakers unpacked the critical irony in that those who champion the cause of exclusion are excluded themselves, in fruitful dialogue around financial inclusion of Non-Profit Organization. This issue is exacerbated by crisis and persistent corruption at a time in which every penny should be spent those who need it most. Participants emphasised that for the first time in decades we are seeing the overwhelming reversal of global poverty trends.
Day two of the Summit fittingly concluded with rich discussion around development in the finance track. Civil society was consistently acknowledged and thanked as a critical partner throughout this crisis and C20 recommendations were acknowledged as most valuable to G20 leaders in this difficult time. Speakers warned against austerity as they most aptly put forward that “in the COVID 19 pandemic we are all in the same storm, but we are not in the same boat”.