The G7 summit in Cornwall was seemingly riveted to the sphere of public policy, pre-eminently health and education of girls. If the upshot is any indication, there may be hope yet for the poorer nations of the world.
Going by the wrapup presentation of Boris Johnson, the rich nations will donate one billion doses of Covid vaccines to poorer countries.
Abjuring hi-falutin platitudes on global economic cooperation, the league of the wealthy, so to speak, has promised to boost the manufacture of global vaccines and shorten the time it takes to develop new jabs, tests and treatment.
Unicef has welcomed the move, but has called for faster timelines, while some critics have said the initiative does not go far enough.
Given that environmental degradation is the second major damaging issue that confronts the world, the summit has pledged to raise $100 billion to help the developing world cut its carbon emissions, indeed a signal of intent that has consistently been skirted at the periodic climate change conferences, whether in Cancun, Copenhagen or Paris.
The underlying discord has been overwhelming at the high table. In refreshing contrast, there has been a measure of forward movement at Cornwall in the spheres of public health and environment.
The supply and use of Covid vaccines will of course hinge on the follow-through. In what appears to be a bow in the direction of female education, the G7 said it would try and get 40 million more girls into school around the world.
The forbidding challenge must be the Islamist militants’ opposition to women’s education in places where the ISIS and Taliban are potent forces, as on the Af-Pak frontier. The grievous injuries suffered by Malala Yousufzai must still rankle. The Prime Minister of Britain denied that the summit was dominated by rows over Brexit, saying the issue was a “vanishingly small” part of the meeting.
His comments followed a row over checks on goods going from Britain to Northern Ireland, indeed a confrontation that has put the United Kingdom and the European Union at loggerheads.
The emphasis on a joint endeavour to address the pandemic was clear when Mr Johnson urged participating nations not to let the pandemic leave a lasting scare of inequality. Recovery from the pandemic dominated the discussions with President Biden pledging to share 500 million doses and a promise from Prime Minister Johnson for another 100 million shots.
Particularly relevant at this juncture was Mr Johnson’s caveat, specifically that world leaders must not repeat errors made over the past 18 months ~ or “those made in the recovery from the 2008 global financial crisis”. Inequalities, he feared, may be entrenched. That indeed was the dominant worry at the three-day jaw-jaw at Cornwall.