The repairs required by our modern societies
The G20 Buenos Aires Summit will take place 10 years after leaders first met in Washington back in November 2008 in the midst of the worst financial crisis since 1929. There is little doubt that, without the multilateral action led by the G20, the consequences of the crisis would have been significantly worse. Ten years later, most observers agree that the global economy is finally recovering.
But years of crisis have left behind fractures and wounds in our societies that are still in need of repair. Inequalities in income, wealth and opportunities have become more acute in many G20 countries and broad segments of our populations have yet to experience the impact of the global recovery. Gender gaps are having a negative impact not only on the well-being of women and girls but also on economic growth and productivity. Unprecedented technological change has immense potential to improve our daily existence, but also raises the question of the impacts of disruption on workers and industries. Meanwhile, populists and extremists use migration as a scapegoat, ignoring the potential benefits of migrants’ integration in host communities. And all this happens in a context where the very existence of our planet depends on our ability to fundamentally transform our economies and our societies and lay the foundations for a low-carbon future.
The role of governments
National governments play a major role in addressing some of these challenges. My government, which I have often described as progressive, feminist and pro-European, has displayed an ambitious agenda since we took office last June. Spain is now experiencing robust economic growth and creating jobs. Our current focus is on improving the quality of those jobs and fostering social cohesion, while making our economy more competitive through structural reforms and delivering on our commitment to fiscal responsibility. We are actively working with our EU partners on a much-needed common migration policy based on the principles of responsibility and solidarity. We have recovered the universal nature of our public health system as a basic pillar of our welfare state. And we are developing comprehensive legislative proposals to address climate change by making sure we deliver on our ambitious greenhouse gas emission targets, and to counter all forms of discrimination against women in the labour market, starting with the gender pay gap.
But let’s face it: our domestic policies are not enough. Climate change, migration, technological change, international taxation, women’s economic and political empowerment, sustainable development and financial regulation are all areas where national policies will simply fall short unless they are accompanied by global collective action. Global challenges call for global solutions.
And that is where the G20 can – and, I would add, should – play a leading role. The Buenos Aires Summit offers us an opportunity to reaffirm the core values that inspired the creation of the G20 10 years ago and that underpin some of its most notable achievements since then: cooperation, partnership and solidarity.
Our citizens expect from us concrete answers to their concerns. In this regard, developing the necessary policy frameworks for a sustainable and inclusive future of work and modernising our tax systems to catch up with the digital revolution so that everybody contributes their fair share are important steps towards renewing the social contract that binds our societies together. We can and should do more to address all gender gaps and empower women and girls to realise their full potential, for instance by delivering on the G20 commitment to reduce the gap in labour force participation between men and women by 2025. We must also leverage the 2030 Agenda as a powerful instrument for sustainable development at home and abroad. And we need to step up our commitment to fight corruption and promote integrity in order to strengthen citizen trust in government institutions.
Buenos Aires is also an opportunity for G20 leaders to send a clear message about the value of multilateral solutions in areas such as trade, climate or migration. Spain is strongly committed to free, fair and rules-based trade as an engine of growth and prosperity across countries and regions. We need to work together to avoid trade tensions and modernise global trade rules to ensure they work for all. Spain is also firmly committed to the full implementation of the Paris Agreement, which we view as a key milestone in an irreversible effort to save our planet. Finally, we think the G20 should continue its conversation on migration and displacement by embracing a comprehensive approach to this phenomenon and promoting policies and partnerships to maximise the positive impact of migration flows and address the root causes of displacement.
Since 2008, Spain has been an active participant in G20 efforts to develop common approaches to the world’s most pressing challenges. As I travel to Buenos Aires for my first G20 summit, I look forward to continuing working together for a fairer, more inclusive and more sustainable future for all.