The leaders of the world’s major economies will gather in Italy this weekend as Rome hosts its first G20 summit, with the global health crisis, economic recovery, and climate change at the top of this year’s agenda.
Delegates will discuss how to reduce the inequalities brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic and the uneven rollout of vaccines.
The summit comes on the eve of the UN’s climate change conference, the COP26, which starts on Monday in Glasgow. Italy hopes world leaders will set a deadline to reach net-zero greenhouse gas emissions.
Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi welcomed world leaders on Saturday at the Nuvola Convention Centre in the Italian capital’s EUR neighbourhood.
Russian President Vladimir Putin and China’s Xi Jinping will attend only by video link.
High security as leaders gather in Rome
Organising the first in-person summit of the world’s largest economies since the start of the coronavirus emergency brings a lot of responsibilities, which includes tight security.
Rome security chiefs sealed off a 10-square kilometre area of the capital’s EUR district.
The government says the summit will take place under “maximum security”, with a “red zone” extending between the Nuvola and the nearby Palazzo dei Congressi constantly monitored by helicopters, snipers, and drones.
Around 2,000 police officers and 500 soldiers have been deployed for the two-day event, not only to secure the area but also to monitor any other sensitive sites including critical government buildings and foreign embassy headquarters.
Italian authorities fear anti-health pass and climate protests might arise given what happened in Italy in the past few weeks. They believe rallies could potentially be infiltrated by “foreign rioters”.
Italy’s intelligence agency has been monitoring online activity on social media platforms to check whether there will be unauthorised protests.
Only the rallies that have been classified as “safe” were given the go-ahead provided that they will be staged far away from the location of the summit.
For the duration of the event, Rome’s airspace will be monitored by the army, with a no-fly zone over most of the capital and border controls reintroduced.