In 2020, the pandemic upset our lives and upended the world as we know it – and Europe with it. EU Member States launched an unprecedented €750 billion Next Generation EU recovery package, but then bickered on how to use its funds, or whether to tie them to the respect of the rule of law. Meanwhile, big powers were on the move: from the United States where a newly elected President promises to rekindle diplomacy by “bringing America back” to multilateral forums, to an increasingly assertive China and a looming Russia.
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic highlighted the urgency of finding common and shared solutions to many overlapping global challenges: from the health emergency to skyrocketing debt, from climate change to barriers to international trade, from digital transition to heightened poverty and inequality.
At first glance, space law can be defined as the set of rules and principles aimed at regulating the space beyond the aerial zone and the objects, celestial bodies and related activities within it.
Multilateral cooperation was being put to the test by growing divisions and confrontation well before the Covid-19 crisis. With the pandemic taking a heavy toll on human life, triggering a deep world recession and accelerating global trends, redoubling multilateral efforts is even more crucial today, in many fields: from global health to climate change, from SDGs to digital transformation. The G20 is the most important multilateral forum and its action needs to be given new life to provide effective responses.
Italy’s turn at the G20 presidency could not be more momentous. It comes as the world is facing a second wave of infections of the novel coronavirus, and as new partial or full lockdowns worsen the economic situation in most countries. In this context, the choice of priorities of the Italian government for next year’s G20 – the “three Ps” – sounds increasingly effective, as G20 leaders are called to safeguard “People, Planet, and Prosperity”.
In 2020, the Covid-19 pandemic has brought to the fore an urgent need that first emerged in 2018, at the beginning of the trade war between the United States and China: the need to reform the organisation of the WTO. Unfortunately, it has also complicated the choice of possible alternatives. The G20, which has incorporated a Trade and Investment Working Group since 2016, is now urgently examining the implications of the pandemic for international trade and investment.
The G20, whose 2021 Summit will be held in Italy as part of the Italian G20 Presidency, was established in 1999 as a consultation forum for the finance ministers and central bank governors of the world’s leading economies, largely in response to the Asian financial crisis that began two years earlier. For the subsequent ten years, the G20 did not actually set itself the goal of policy coordination.
The Covid-19 pandemic has led to the emergence of two realities that seriously threaten multilateralism: firstly the problems encountered by national governments in coordinating their responses, and secondly the growing allure of “my country first” policies. The crisis in multilateralism has been transformed from a purely latent matter into an undeniable problem. Many young people and a growing slice of public opinion no longer see in the multilateral approach an effective tool for tackling global challenges.
World leaders (virtually) convened at the Saudi G20 summit in a time when the Covid-19 emergency has compounded longstanding global challenges for the multilateral system. From climate change to digital transformation, from global health to growth and social cohesion, these are testing times for multilateralism.
COVID-19 has turned everything upside down. The global lockdowns, the stresses on weak health systems, the absence of fiscal space and social safety nets, the downturn in the world economy, have wiped out years of progress in development across the developing world.