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Following the call to action issued by the Youth Leadership Caucus in advance of the G20, youth leaders respond to the disappointing outcomes of the G20 Leaders' Summit.

As youth-leaders, activists and student unions from around the world, we respond with disappointment at the failure of the G20 Leaders’ Summit to announce any credible measures to prevent the loss of a generation as a result of COVID-19, when it is well within their economic and political power to do so.

The G20 Leaders’ Statement called for a ‘global response in the spirit of solidarity’ and protection of the most vulnerable during the pandemic, yet without a clear commitment on how, and by whom, these promises will be financed they are nothing but empty words.

The statement did proudly declare that the G20 have ‘injected over $5 trillion into the global economy’; however, we know that less than 0.13% of this money has been allocated to multilateral funds that target the poorest children and their families, with the overwhelming majority of this ‘global response’ staying within richer countries and corporations. This is hardly the ‘united front’ they allege to be ‘strongly committed to’.

We welcome the joint declaration committing to providing fair access to COVID-19 vaccines, yet with a current $4.5 billion shortfall in the funds necessary for equitable distribution to the poorest countries we await to see the delivery of this. Furthermore, the extension of debt relief to mid-2021, as opposed to debt cancellation, will simply delay the economic crises facing low-income countries, many of whom are continuing to borrow more to finance their COVID-19 response measures: effectively piling on debt for future generations to carry.

We are also gravely concerned at the lack of serious, accelerated action for environmental protection, not only due to the importance of this in preventing future health pandemics but because climate change, like COVID-19, will disproportionately affect the poorest, most vulnerable people, especially children.

Overall, G20 leaders have made little to no acknowledgement that the COVID-19 pandemic risks reversing the last 20 years of progress in achieving education for all or in eradicating global crises such as extreme poverty and hunger. We therefore reiterate our demands once again for an equal, moral and fair global response to COVID-19 that could prevent this catastrophe and save millions of lives.

As young leaders representing millions of children and young people around the world, and the generation that has to face the results of today’s choices in the long run, we hope that political leaders will start to work with us to deliver a credible plan for a meaningful and equitable response to the pandemic. Until then, we cannot see a clear path for sustainable recovery, where those with the least do not end up paying the highest price.


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