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UAE well placed to support G20’s critical work

Organisers prepare for the 2020 G20 Riyadh Summit, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 18, 2020. (AFP)
Organisers prepare for the 2020 G20 Riyadh Summit, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 18, 2020. (AFP)
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20 Nov 2020 03:11:45 GMT9
20 Nov 2020 03:11:45 GMT9

With the G20 Leaders’ Summit due to take place in Riyadh this weekend, I am very glad to have an opportunity to outline the UAE’s engagement in this year’s G20 process in my capacity as the UAE Sherpa.

The UAE was invited by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to attend this year’s G20 summit in our capacity as chair of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). We were very honored and humbled by the invitation, given that we join only seven other guest country invitees for this year’s summit.

This is only the second time the UAE has attended a G20 summit, following our attendance in 2011 at the invitation of France. I can only marvel at the expansion of the G20’s work between 2011 and today. Since then, we have seen the G20 evolve into the world’s major forum to discuss global economic and emerging issues. In 2011, there were, in effect, only three working groups under the Sherpa track. This year, there are about 14.

The Saudi presidency of the G20 set itself a very ambitious agenda before the start of the year. The onset of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), and the need to coordinate a global response, only lent more importance to the G20 forum as the year progressed.

And now, having spent significant time coordinating with my G20 counterparts and recognizing their tireless commitment to finding consensus, I honestly cannot think of another forum more suited to illustrating our ability to come together and address shared challenges than the G20.

From our side, we have found participation in the G20 process extremely valuable in terms of knowledge and experience sharing, as well as strengthening bilateral relationships. From the beginning of the year, we worked closely with our bilateral and regional partners to identify priority issues that the UAE would champion during its engagement at the G20 — issues that matter to the UAE, the GCC, and to many smaller countries that are often not represented at forums like the G20.

In light of this, we identified a number of priority areas, including: The global health agenda; sustainability and climate change; food and water security; quality education; and financial inclusion.

We have taken the opportunity of being part of the G20 process to highlight some of the UAE’s critical perspectives, including: Emphasizing the importance of global coordination and multilateralism; supporting efforts to ensure equitable and affordable access to COVID-19 vaccines and treatments; championing inclusive access to quality education; highlighting the need to support developing and least-developed countries; stressing the importance of women’s empowerment; calling for more ambitious climate targets; underlining the importance of food and water security; and referencing a post-COVID-19 recovery that will be sustainable and inclusive.

We have been happy to see that our views are aligned with many G20 countries on a number of important topics.

Ahmed Al Sayegh

We have been happy to see that our views are aligned with many G20 countries on a number of these important topics. Moreover, this process has given us an opportunity to better appreciate the global challenges that the international community is facing and how the UAE could support the international community to address these issues.

I am very much looking forward to the G20 Leaders’ Statement, which will set a bold blueprint for future action on many of our common challenges, as well as for a more sustainable, resilient and inclusive post-COVID-19 recovery. We must seize the opportunity presented by this crisis to build back better.

We recognize that this year’s leaders’ declaration is a starting point. As such, we are eager to work with our G20 counterparts over the coming years. As host of Dubai Expo 2020, with its theme of “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future,” the UAE is especially well placed to support the global agenda and the critical work of the G20 moving forward.

  • Ahmed Al Sayegh is UAE Minister of State and UAE Sherpa for the G20. Al-Sayegh made these comments at a virtual media press briefing from Abu Dhabi on Thursday.
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