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G20 Finance Track deputies discuss financing for global health emergency preparedness

On Tuesday 15 June, G20 Finance Track Deputies gathered virtually to discuss and share solutions on financing the global commons for pandemic preparedness and response.

June 17th, 2021

G20 Finance Track deputies discuss financing for global health emergency preparedness

In a few weeks, G20 Finance Ministers and Central Banks Governors (FMCBGs) will gather in Venice for the first in-person meeting under the Italian G20 Presidency. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, since February 2020, all G20 activities have been held online. Nonetheless, G20 members have been working hard to support the global economy in this current crisis and ensure that the world is better prepared to tackle the next one.

The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the need to improve prevention, surveillance, preparedness and response to global health challenges. While experts believe that we have entered an age of pandemics, the international community is called upon to find solutions designed to mitigate the human, economic and social costs that a new crisis may generate.

Within this context, on Tuesday 15 June 2021, G20 Deputies met to move forward on examining these critical issues ahead of the 9-10 July G20 FMCBG meeting.

The international community is making great efforts to develop and distribute vaccines globally and to strengthen disease surveillance networks. Recent economic estimates, provided by the International Monetary Fund and the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, are a beacon of hope for a fast recovery. Yet, the consequences of the crisis will put large strains on our societies for years to come, particularly in the absence of adequate long-term mechanisms for protecting global health security.

The G20 is aware and believes that, without a proper funding system, the world may be unable to manage future epidemics. To address this concern, in January 2021, the G20 established a High Level Independent Panel (HLIP) to find solutions designed to finance the global commons for pandemic preparedness and response in the long run.

A distinguished Group of Experts are meeting regularly to map financing gaps and propose solutions to meeting them on a systematic and sustainable basis, and to optimally leverage resources from the public, private and philanthropic sectors, and International Financial Institutions.

The Panel is co-chaired by Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Foreign and Finance Minister, Nigeria, Tharman Shanmugaratnam, Former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Singapore, and Lawrence Summers, Former United States Treasury Secretary.

The Panel provided a first Progress Note to the G20 FMCBGs in April, highlighting that since viruses respect no borders, a functioning system for financing pandemic prevention, preparedness and response must, above all, be recognised by the international community as a global public good. Furthermore, ensuring widespread global access is a scientific and economic necessity as well as a commitment to leaving no one behind.

On 21 May, two co-Chairs of the Group, Tharman Shanmugaratnam and Lawrence Summers, presented the initiative at the G20 Global Health Summit (GHS), co-hosted in Rome by the European Commission and the Italian G20 Presidency.

The Panel’s first activities revealed that funding is grossly inadequate, fragmented, overly reliant on ad-hoc contributions and not reactive enough. The current crisis should be taken as a major opportunity to chart a course for enhanced financing that strengthens the global ability to prevent, prepare for, and respond to pandemics. In order to do so, it would be crucial to assure more reliable, continuous financing, as well as the capacity to mobilise funds swiftly to meet the growing needs during a pandemic.

The members recognised the key role that robust and inclusive national healthcare systems can play, especially in Low Income Countries and Lower-Middle Income Countries. Strengthening national systems to prepare for future pandemics also facilitates the response to ongoing public health needs, tackling emerging infectious diseases, and supports the longer-term objective of human capital development.

The Panel will present its final report at the G20 FMCBG meeting in Venice, which will then be taken forward by an informal working group composed of experts from Finance and Health Ministries, with the support of the WHO, and other relevant international organisations. Future follow-up actions, together with the final HLIP report, will formally be presented for adoption at the G20 Joint Meeting of Finance and Health Ministers next October.

Related background material and information are available on the following website, www.pandemic-financing.org, dedicated to promoting the Panel’s activity.