11 December 2023
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The G20 leaders, including Prime Minister Narendra Modi, have agreed that the WHO would be strengthened to fast-track the process for emergency use authorisation for COVID-19 vaccines, India’s G20 Sherpa Piyush Goyal said on Sunday.

Briefing the media, Goyal said the Leaders adopted the ‘Rome Declaration’ at the G20 Summit and the communiqué gives a very strong message under the health section with the countries agreeing that the COVID-19 immunization is a global public good.

It was decided that the recognition of COVID vaccines which are deemed to be safe and efficacious by the World Health Organisation (WHO) will be mutually accepted subject to national and privacy laws that the countries may have, Goyal said.

“The theme of the G20 summit was people planet and prosperity. Truly, within this overarching theme, this G20 has delivered a strong message of recovery from the pandemic, recovery in terms of the economy and across different sectors like health employment education tourism and most significant climate action,” Goyal said as per ANI.

“But more importantly it has been agreed that everybody will help to optimize the processes and procedures of the WHO for vaccine approval and emergency use authorisation, and the WHO will be strengthened so that it can do the recognition of vaccines faster,” he said.

Prime Minister Modi had told G20 leaders on Saturday that India is ready to produce over 5 billion COVID vaccine doses by the end of next year to help the world in the fight against the pandemic.

He had asserted that it was necessary that the WHO approves Indian vaccines at the earliest.

A technical advisory group of the UN health agency will meet on November 3 to conduct a final “risk-benefit assessment” for Emergency Use Listing of Covaxin. Bharat Biotech’s Covaxin and AstraZeneca and Oxford University’s Covishield are the two widely used vaccines in India.

Goyal said Prime Minister Modi’s mantra of sustainable lifestyles was reflected in the G20 declaration on sustainable consumption and responsible production patterns.

According to NDTV, Goyal said India has asked developed nations that have “enjoyed the fruits of energy” to reach net zero faster so that emerging economies use some “carbon space” to drive growth. ‘Net zero emissions’ refers to achieving an overall balance between greenhouse gas emissions produced and greenhouse gas emissions taken out of the atmosphere.

“Developed nations have enjoyed the fruits of energy and they will need to go for net zero faster, so that developing nations have some carbon space. For now there is no adequate technology to absorb large amount of clean energy into grids. There is a need to look at more technology and innovation before we can identify the year (for achieving net zero),” Goyal said.

Livelihoods of small, marginal farmers were among focus areas of India’s discussions at the G20 Summit in Rome, Goyal said.

Negotiators for the Group of 20 worked through the night and talks continued Sunday morning in hopes of reaching consensus for a final statement. The Group of 20 leaders also agreed to end public financing for coal-fired power generation abroad, but set no target for phasing out coal domestically — a clear nod to top carbon polluters China and India. On agriculture, the leaders have agreed that livelihoods for small and marginal farmers were the focus of our discussions, the minister said.

“Everybody has agreed that improving their livelihoods is an important global effort that we’ll have to put in,” he said. Goyal said that energy and climate was clearly the centre stage of discussion during G20 Summit.

“Energy and climate was clearly the centre stage of our discussion. India and many other developing countries pushed for safeguarding the interest of the developing world. We are also joined by developed countries to increase the ambition from current levels of commitment,” he said.

The G20 is a leading global forum that brings together the world’s major economies. Its members account for more than 80 percent of the global GDP, 75 percent of global trade and 60 percent of the population of the planet.

In August a bombshell “code red” report from the world’s top climate science body warned that Earth’s average temperature will hit the 1.5 degree Celsius threshold around 2030, a decade earlier than projected only three years ago.

With inputs from agencies

Abdul Gh Lone