A group of current and former world leaders, including ex-prime ministers Gordon Brown, Tony Blair and Sir John Major, is calling for an urgent G20 summit on coronavirus to be convened.
A joint letter from 225 past and present world leaders, economists and health experts calls for a £2 trillion plan to support the fight against Covid-19 and stimulate the global economy.
The G20, a forum for nations and the EU to discuss economic matters, is not currently due to meet until November.
The letter says quicker action is needed to prevent an even deeper worldwide recession and health crisis.
Poorer countries are the most at risk, the letter says. It calls for 76 nations to be released from debt payments, a doubling of the World Bank’s emergency aid fund and £5.6 billion towards vaccines.
The letter says: “Without action from the G20, the recession caused by the pandemic will only deepen, hurting all economies and the world’s most marginalised and poorest peoples and nations the most.
“Representing, as it does, 85% of the world’s nominal GDP, the G20 has the capacity to lead the mobilisation of resources on the scale required. We urge leaders to do so immediately.”
Former UK prime minister Gordon Brown, who chaired the G20 summit in 2009, said: “As our letter states the world is at a critical moment.
“Without a G20 leaders’ meeting online soon and certainly long before the end of November, a vacuum in global leadership will open up just at the time when we need global action most – to avoid a second wave of Covid coming out of the poorest countries and to move the world economy from rescue operations to planning a global recovery.
“The G20 states it is the ‘world’s premium economic forum for international co-operation’ and so a G20 meeting now, that – unlike President Trump’s proposed September invitation to only 10 countries – includes Africa, Latin America, the Middle East and most of Asia, could agree a global growth plan and unite a divided world.”
Another signatory, former New Zealand prime minister Helen Clark, said money from the G20’s current action plan had not been allocated.
She said: “The IMF has said emerging markets and developing countries need 2.5 trillion US dollars to overcome the crisis but only a fraction of that 2.5 trillion dollars has so far been allocated.
“While we welcome the good intentions at the heart of the G20 action plan, concrete measures must urgently be agreed and be implemented in full.”
The letter also calls for global co-operation around the development of vaccines “to ensure that they are universally and freely available as quickly as possible.”
Action against tax havens should also be taken, it says, with sanctions issued against countries which breach the rules.
The former leaders say nations “should be willing to go beyond their normal fiscal deficit ceilings,” borrowing more money to avert a long-term crisis.