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Opinion

Progress towards an equitable and sustainable world

DIPLOMATIC POUCH - Anke Reiffenstuel - The Philippine Star

The new year has just begun and the Year of the Tiger is even younger but already packed with challenges, ambitions and expectations. IATF’s recent decision to deal with COVID-19 as an endemic situation, thus making it part of a New Normal life, is in line with the development we currently also see in other countries. I hope that together, we have finally achieved what we aspired to nearly two years ago: flattening the curve of COVID infections as much as possible in order to not overwhelm our hospitals and health care systems, and to use this time to develop effective vaccines and medicines.

For the Philippines, 2022 is also an important election year. Having arrived to this beautiful country less than three years ago, it will be my first Philippine elections to witness, and I’m impressed by the activities, color-coding, debates and campaigns that are omnipresent on the streets but also in (social) media already – although it is still three months until Election Day.

Elections are usually a starting point for a fresh look onto policy approaches, priorities and challenges. Germany’s new government has taken office just a few weeks ago, and Olaf Scholz is now the head of a three-party coalition government. For the first time ever, a woman is Germany’s Foreign Minister.

No doubt, Germany will remain committed to addressing international and global challenges related to conflicts and crisis. In addition, we will increase our engagement in climate change-related issues and we will pursue a feminist foreign policy. Excellent leadership and conflict solving qualities of women are widely acknowledged, and decision-making based on listening to and reflecting on all positions and arguments was one of the strengths of Angela Merkel’s 16-year successful chancellorship. We want to build on this, and are convinced that strengthening the participation and contributions of women is essential for sustainable peace and security.

At the beginning of this year, Germany has taken over the G7 presidency – a responsible task in challenging times that provides an opportunity for our new government to actively contribute to shaping global issues shortly after taking office on Dec. 8, 2021.

As leading industrialized countries and value-based partners, G7 members have a particular responsibility to shape a positive future for everyone in the spirit of sustainable economic recovery, the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement.

Throughout our presidency, Germany seeks to further strengthen this responsibility and be open to cooperation with all partners – to achieve the most coordinated action possible based on shared democratic values, universal human rights and fair, rules-based multilateralism. Committed dialogue and cooperation beyond the G7 – with other states, the international community and civil society – are essential for us.

The goal of Germany’s G7 presidency is “Progress towards an equitable world,” and our program focuses on the following priorities:

1. Sustainable planet

We will work to protect climate, environment and biodiversity and to accelerate the global energy transition. Germany has initiated the establishment of a “Climate Club,” aiming to move forward together on a socially just transformation, providing a crucial boost for international climate action.

2. Economic stability and transformation

Germany firmly believes that an ecologically and socially just transformation can go hand in hand with economic prosperity. The shared focus on sustainable economic recovery and inclusive growth is important to us. We will continue to coordinate within the G7 to shape the recovery of the global economy, which is still reeling from the effects of the pandemic, while at the same time setting the course for a sustainable future.

3. Healthy lives

Germany aims to continue to expand the G7’s pioneering role in the commitment to pandemic prevention and control as well as improving the international health architecture. Germany promotes support for all pillars of the ACT Accelerator including COVAX, as well as local vaccine production in developing countries. With nearly $2.5 billion by the end of 2021, Germany is the largest donor to COVAX after the US. In 2021 alone, Germany donated more than 100 million vaccine doses worldwide (including more than 11 million doses to the Philippines) and will continue this policy in 2022.

4. Investment in a better future

We seek to use our presidency to advance international cooperation for sustainable development in the spirit of the 2030 Agenda. In view of the enormous need for investment in emerging and developing countries worldwide, G7 is to launch an infrastructure initiative and take on a stronger global role in promoting socially, economically and ecologically sustainable infrastructure. Our focus here is on climate and health. In view of the severe setbacks caused by the pandemic, we also seek to make concrete progress in achieving global development goals. Particular focus areas are food security and girls’ education.

5. Strong together

The G7 is bound by the shared values of democracy, rule of law and human rights. Germany aims to promote a strong commitment to social justice, equality and inclusive digitalization, and also seeks to strengthen the G7 role as bridge-builders for peace and security. Based on common values, we will take a clear stand in connection with international crises. We will vigorously defend the respect for international law and a multilateral, rules-based order.

I am convinced that this comprehensive and ambitious program, as well as the mutual interest in strengthening the relationship between our two countries, provide huge potential for closer cooperation in bilateral, regional and multilateral formats in 2022 and beyond.

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Anke Reiffenstuel is the German Ambassador to the Philippines.

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