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Prime Minister Draghi’s speech at 7th G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit

Thursday, 7 October 2021

President of the Council of Ministers Mario Draghi’s speech at the seventh G20 Parliamentary Speakers’ Summit held in Palazzo Madama, seat of the Italian Senate.

[The following video is available in Italian only]

President Elisabetta Casellati,
President Roberto Fico,
President Duarte Pacheco,
Distinguished Delegates,

It is a great pleasure to address you today at the seventh G20 Summit of Parliamentary Speakers.
I would like to thank President Casellati, President Fico and President Pacheco for hosting this meeting.

Throughout history, Parliaments have been relentless drivers of progress and development.
You have kept governments in check and channelled political struggles towards constructive outcomes.
You have balanced the interests of different groups - workers and industrialists, the elderly and the young.
You have struck difficult compromises – between liberty and security, profit and solidarity. 
And you have enabled social advancements, upholding the rule of law and fundamental rights. 
Our countries are in a much better place because of what Parliaments have done - and continue to do.

But your role goes well beyond national borders. 
You have bridged distances between countries and promoted dialogue and cooperation even in the face of conflict. 
The first multilateral political organisation in the modern world was an alliance among parliaments - the Inter-Parliamentary Union.
Its founders and leading figures have won eight Nobel Peace Prizes for their contribution to the resolution of disputes.
The IPU has been a true champion of world peace and security, a precursor of the League of Nations and the United Nations. 
Today, it continues to bring parliamentarians together to work on issues of international concern, from human rights to education. 

Even when the world is divided, Parliaments keep the dialogue going. 
You do so on a bilateral basis, through multilateral assemblies, and through frequent meetings of the Speakers of Parliaments. 
You cooperate to seek joint solutions to global problems:
From ensuring a prompt and fair recovery from the pandemic, to fighting climate change, and promoting the role of women.

The pandemic is finally receding in many parts of the world due to effective vaccination campaigns.
But Covid-19 continues to take a heavy toll on populations around the globe.
At the end of September, we still counted more than 50,000 deaths per day, in spite of the remarkable improvement in the production of vaccines.
This number is unacceptably high.

We face two major problems.
In rich countries, doses are widely available, but a minority of our citizens refuse them or hesitate.
In most cases, this is out of fear that vaccines are not safe or not effective, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary.
In lower-income countries, vaccine availability is still a problem, mainly because of poor logistics.
More than 5.7 billion doses have been administered globally, but only 2% of them have reached Africa.

Parliaments can do a lot to support the vaccination effort. 
You can adopt measures that increase transparency in the allocation of vaccines and that prevent the mismanagement of public funds within the health system.
You can also help to bridge the gap between constituents and governments as we seek to tackle misinformation.
A recent study by Nature showed that exposure to fake news reduced the willingness to ‘definitely’ take a vaccine against Covid-19 by more than 6 percentage points. 
The European Parliament – for instance - has taken several steps to debunk misconceptions about vaccines and has provided useful guidance to identify misinformation on social media.
The message to our citizens must be clear.
Vaccines are safe. Vaccines save lives.
Parliaments must also work with governments to foster a fair and sustainable recovery. 
The OECD predicts that the global economy will grow by 5.7% this year and by 4.5% percent in 2022.
However, this upturn remains uneven and fragile, especially in emerging countries, because of different policy responses to the crisis.
Advanced economies were able to stimulate growth through robust monetary and fiscal policies, while emerging and low-income ones had limited room for action.
Economic divergence risks erasing years of progress in the fight against poverty and global inequality.
Parliaments can support measures that boost investment, remove obstacles to growth and provide funding to poorer countries.
We must do all we can to achieve a strong global recovery that leaves no one behind.

Parliaments are also at the centre of the global response to climate change. 
You transpose international agreements into national legislation.
You contribute to the proper allocation of funds to support our climate policies.
And you provide robust oversight of what governments do – or don’t do – to address the climate crisis.
G20 countries are responsible for 75 % of global emissions. 
Collectively, we must lead the way in reducing greenhouse emissions and accelerating the energy transition.
You must hold governments accountable to our collective commitment to limit temperature rise to less than 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels.
The climate crisis will not go away unless we act. 
Future generations will judge us on how quickly and decisively we respond to it.

Finally, I want to reflect on the role that Parliaments can play in tackling gender inequality. 
Today, women represent only 25% of Members of Parliament worldwide. 
This number has gone up steadily over the last few years, but it is still too low.
Even worse, progress can easily be overturned. 

The G20 Italian Presidency has made supporting women worldwide a priority. 
In August, we held the first ever G20 Ministerial Conference on Women’s Empowerment. 
But these are only initial steps and Parliaments can help us in this essential effort. 
You can draw attention to gender-specific issues and ensure that women’s voices and perspectives are included in the legislative process.
And you can provide young girls with examples of female leadership.
G20 members have an obligation not only to their own citizens, but to the global community. 
We must defend the rights of women across the globe, especially in those regions where they are under threat.
I am referring in particular to Afghanistan, where girls and women are losing their rights and freedoms.
After two decades of increasing female representation in Afghani politics, we are seeing today their unacceptable exclusion.

The challenges we face today require strong and pragmatic multilateralism, involving governments, parliaments and civil society. 
The upcoming G20 Leaders’ Summit in Rome represents a unique opportunity to plan an effective and coordinated response. 
Our work will benefit greatly from your discussions.
I wish you a productive meeting and I look forward to your conclusions. 
Thank you.

[Courtesy translation]