The G7 summit has started in Cornwall, with Boris Johnson urging fellow leaders to “build back better” as the world recovers from the Covid pandemic.
The UK prime minister said it was vital to learn from the “mistakes” of the 2008 financial crisis and tackle the “scar” of inequality.
The leaders posed for the traditional “family photograph” as they gathered in the seaside resort of Carbis Bay, reports the BBC.
The distribution of Covid vaccines is also high on the summit agenda.
US President Joe Biden is among those being hosted by Johnson for the three-day meeting, as well the leaders of France, Germany, Italy, Japan and Canada.
It is the first face-to-face summit of the G7 – representing most of the world’s biggest economies – since before the pandemic started early last year. European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and European Council president Charles Michel are also attending.
In his opening remarks at the main round-table discussions, Johnson said that, as the world recovered from the pandemic, it was important to “level up across our societies” and “build back better”.
He added: “I actually think that we have a huge opportunity to that because, as G7, we are united in our vision for a cleaner, greener world, a solution to the problems of climate change.”
The prime minister also said it was “vital that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the last great crisis – the last great economic recession of 2008 – when the recovery was not uniform across all parts of society”.
The UK government announced it was giving £430m in aid to the Global Partnership for Education, to help the world’s “most vulnerable children” get better schooling, with a “particular” focus on girls.
It was important for the world economy to rebuild in a “more equal and… in a more gender-neutral and perhaps a more feminine way” after the huge damage caused by coronavirus, Johnson told his fellow leaders.
As camera crews and photographers left the meeting room at the Carbis Bay Hotel, he joked that what had been intended as a “fireside chat” had turned into a “media circus”.
Tweeting a photograph of himself with some of the other European leaders sitting on a seaside terrace, French President Emmanuel Macron wrote: “As always, the same union, the same determination to act, the same enthusiasm! The G7 can begin.”