Unlike the last time the UK hosted, the world is now a very different place, with a new geopolitical landscape, and battling an ongoing global pandemic. The horrifying outbreak in India in the last couple of weeks is a bleak reminder that we are not out of the woods yet.
Encouragingly, help from the world has been immediate, the first of many international aid shipments has already reached India. Yorkshire’s CBI members alongside businesses across the globe have also been stepping up in the call for support for vital medical equipment.
I’m urging any firms that can help no matter how small to do so. Global cooperation and roll-out of the vaccine is the key to turning the tide, saving lives and rebuilding the global economy.
As host of both the G7 and COP26, the UK has a chance to step up and show leadership on the world stage once again. The recent publication of the integrated review was a critical first step, outlining how Britain can remain globally competitive and outward facing. But there’s much more we can do.
UK leadership must come in three fundamental forms as a leader in the race to net-zero, a champion of free, open trade, and a trailblazer on tech.
The G7 itself kicks off in June but next week is the starter to the main course –the CBI hosts the B7, in partnership with Deloitte – a summit which brings together the leading business organisations from the G7 nations along with India, Australia, South Korea and South Africa, offering the chance to mobilise international business behind an ambitious agenda, and building collaboration for the future.
This year’s G7 hopes to lead the charge on a global recovery from the pandemic. But that is only possible with the engine room of enterprise stoking the fire. Forging a new pathway for the globe requires leadership and partnership. That is something we have seen in spades from our region’s business in the hour of crisis.
Now we need that same spirit of togetherness in nations across the world – and from our political leaders. The challenges and opportunities of 2021 demand a new era of global consensus building.
President Biden echoed these calls in his first address to Congress, and it is up to the UK to do the same. As witnessed by the climate emergency unfolding in front of us, from the unusual freezing temperatures in Texas to the wildfires in Australia. The clock is running down on action. This year’s COP26 couldn’t come a moment too soon.
Creating a net zero world is only possible with business innovation, investment and collaboration. Governments may set standards and frameworks to work to, but it will be on businesses to deliver on the ground.
Next week’s B7 can begin to answer some of the questions the G7 faces, directly feeding into the rules and policies that can have a positive impact on businesses and communities. We’ll be backing the role of green finance in the efforts to decarbonise our economy and supporting the development of low-carbon industries that will help create thousands of new green jobs.
As we shape our new independent trade policy, we must be putting sustainability and technology at the core. Technology has been the lifeblood of the economy during this crisis. But it is raising crucial challenges and questions around trust, tax and impact.
Ultimately, the UK’s ability to act as global broker on the international stage will depend on us shoring up a dynamic, modern and globally competitive economy at home. That’s why moving build back better from slogan to a plan of action, can provide a beacon to other countries.
We all, especially business, have a responsibility to lead by example in 2021 – showing how Britain’s leadership on the global stage can help make a better world in the years to come.