Day 4 of the C20 Summit kicked off with distinguished panelists emphasizing the urgent need to reconfigure security from territorial and national notions to a paradigm that centers human needs and aspirations. The failure of the existing order which has been magnified by the global pandemic crises provides an opportunity to realise the salience of social protection policies. Panelists called for policies that prioritise and give voice to the most precarious and insecure segments of society such as informal economy workers, rehaul the capitalistic economic system and enable the transition to an ecologically just and feminist society, basic income security, affordable and universal access to the internet, universal health coverage and a people’s vaccine, giving credence to and empowering multiple sector stakeholders including the civil society, debt cancellation, free and quality education. The panelists concurred that human security, which is the only definition of security which effectively matters from the standpoint of widespread welfare, depends on our ability to build back better from the current crisis.
The failure to end global hunger in the United Nations’ Decade of Action on Nutrition was discussed by esteemed panelists in the C20 Summit. The panelists built on the premise that the current food system is broken and needs to be replaced by a resilience-building and rights-based approach that enshrines principles such as strengthening local markets, seed biodiversity and nutritionally dense foods, universal provision of social protection, better distribution of existing resources, empowering the civil society in the role they play, shorter supply chains, food sovereignty and according rights to land and natural resources to local populations.
Day 4 of the C20 Summit featured powerful dialogues on all fronts of some the most dire issues the world is facing today. Participants critically assessed the true meaning of a fresh green start and what a ‘just transition to a just recovery’ should really mean. In the midst of turmoil and crisis, COVID has also brought with it a rare opportunity for a refresh button that seemed far out of reach just a few months ago; our leader’s must choose now to listen to all groups of people in order to respond to all realities of crisis and disadvantage correctly. Interventions emphasized the importance of considering traditional and indigenous knowledge as a valid and important source of resilience in communities. They emphasized that science and policy has not acknowledged the significance of these community driven solutions that have worked in local contexts and, significantly, have done so in harmony with the environment.
The C20 Summit has also continuously stressed the significance of education as having been in crisis long before this pandemic and that is only been worsened by the lack of access to funds and crippling debt in the midst of a global health crisis. Participants appealed to global leaders to trigger critical reform in policy and practice to enhance sustainable financing of education and public services. With populism on the rise, they urged policy makers to revaluate what we need our education systems to deliver in this moment; empathy and compassion. Social and emotional learning, they asserted, should be central to most of these reform conversations that we are now trying to have around re-imagining education systems.
Amidst the pandemic crisis, it is vital for countries to come together in helping one another move through these uncertain times. The panel entities “Aiding Recovery: The Critical Role of G20 in ODA” served the purpose of educating themselves and the audience on ways to do this effectively. Topics surrounding aid were carefully considered from multiple angles whilst examining the role of every stakeholder, from lenders to borrowers, as well as public to private institutions. The delivery of aid through digital technologies was highlighted as an effective method for resources to reach their intended beneficiaries, while simultaneously holding civil society responsible for exposing malpractice in this space when their own representatives fail them.
It is becoming increasingly important to close the digital gaps that have manifested over the course of technological innovations. The session entitled “Enabling Digital and Financial Inclusion for post COVID-18 Economic Resiliency” addressed ways of ensuring inclusion is put at the forefront of progress going forward. The panelists discussed the gaps that allow such disparities to exist and explored methods of bridging them. The speakers also reached a consensus on the important of having more people in the formal economy to encourage growth and create a sustainable and rewarding ecosystem on a global scale.
During times of crisis, economic repercussions are a certain drain on fundamental parts of a country. In the case of the Great Lockdown, we have seen this impact on an unprecedented global scale. The panel entitled “Financial and Economic Repercussions of the Great Lockdown in G20 Countries” brings to light the devastating effects taking place all over the world. The financial struggles of middle and low-income countries were heavily voiced as solutions were presented to aid their recovery and lessen the blow for their citizens. Debt cancellation was agreed as the preferred method to a mere suspension. A solution for universal healthcare was presented as a goal to be added to leaders’ agendas with an emphasis on its importance in light of the pandemic. The financial gap existing within society was labelled as a problem that needs vigilant attention to provide solutions that would bring a necessary equilibrium amongst communities.
One of the most important topics discussed today was the issue of homelessness and the significant importance of having accurate data to ensure services, policies and programs are directed to those in need. Panelists defined a framework for homelessness with broad classifications of homelessness as people without accommodation; people living in temporary or crisis accommodation, or people living in severely inadequate and insecure accommodation. In discussing some of the concerns related to homelessness, it was raised that the privacy, security and dignity of those experiencing homelessness needs to be kept at the forefront in the collection and use of data. It is important that we never forget that behind those numbers are humans. The participants discussed how cultural and gender differences in the experiences of homelessness can be very pronounced. In some countries, the gender differences are extreme in that aspect. For example in India, if a man experiences homelessness, he can return to his family and be accepted, however, once a woman is homeless she is no longer acceptable to her family and can no longer return to them. It was concluded that adequate housing comes hand in hand with adequate water and sanitation. In discussing the solutions to homelessness, the panelists agreed that accurate data on homelessness is very important in addressing the problem and in holding our governments to account and that data supports the design and allocation of services and can lead to breaking cycles of homelessness. Those with the lived experience of homelessness have solutions and strategies to end homelessness, and need to be equally representation at the table with decision and policy makers.
Eliminating child labor was one of the most pressing topics discussed in the Summit, seeing as 152 million children, 1 out of 10 children in the world, are subjected to child labor, and of these, 73 million are engaged in hazardous work. We were reminded of the harrowing fact, that we still live in a world where children are bought and sold like animals. To eliminate child labor and all forms of modern day slavery, collaboration between CSOs (working in the field), governments (formulating and implementing policies), and businesses (employing workers) is crucial. The participants recognized the importance of a comprehensive and integrated approach in order to identify the root cause of this serious problem, and a paradigm shift with due diligence within the supply chains and the communities to ensure child labor is eradicated. The panelists agreed that the eradication of the heinous crimes of forced labor, child labor, human trafficking and modern slavery must be a fundamental G20 commitment. We should all push together – civil society, business, governments – to ensure Sustainable Development Goal 8, Target 7 becomes visible at the G20 Leaders Summit and that the current pandemic is not used as an excuse to slow down the ending of all forms of Child Labor. This is the responsibility of all of us to ensure the safety and dignity of children around the world is achieved and maintained.
The day ended in the emphasized stride of inclusivity. Seeking wellbeing in a distressed world was underscored to mean different things for different people. The session brought to the table multiple perspectives with the objective of constructing the most holistic assessment of how this might emerge. In this respect participants urged global leaders to consider that designing responses and solutions to issues impacting wellbeing justly, could only be done by engaging the communities that are most effected. In seamless summation “we cannot advocate on behalf of wellbeing for citizens without citizens deciding what that means themselves”. The C20 is proud to champion and embody this exact position.
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