International Relations and Co-operation Minister Naledi Pandor will spend a few days in Italy this week representing the country in meetings with other G20 foreign ministers, her department said.

The meetings on Monday and Tuesday in Matera in southern Italy will see the G20 leaders discuss, among other issues, global strategies to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.

Concerns surrounding an equitable access to vaccines and medical care are also primary talking points for the G20, according to international media outlet Foreign Brief.

The ministers will also talk about plans for long-term economic, environmental and health recovery post the Covid-19 pandemic, in order to build a system of defence against future global health crises.

Ahead of the summit, Italian labour minister Andrea Orlando last week called for tougher rules governing “gig economy” workers.

The gig economy is a labour market consisting of short-term, freelance and contract workers.

Orlando said big companies should take responsibility for the working conditions of their suppliers, according to a report by Italian daily La Repubblica.

“Large corporations must also take responsibility for small ones. They can no longer say that what happens outside their sheds does not concern them,” Orlando said.

The outcomes of the meetings will serve as precursors for the next G20 summit which will be held in Rome this October.

South Africa’s participation in this week’s G20 summit is based on the four pillars of securing support for domestic priorities, supporting development and sustainable growth in Africa, influencing a reform of global institutions of governance as well as advancing developing countries’ agendas, the Department of International Relations and Co-operation (Dirco) said in a statement on Sunday.

“South Africa is in broad agreement with the priorities of the Italian presidency of the G20, which are people, planet and prosperity,” Dirco spokesperson Clayson Monyela said.

The G20 is an intergovernmental forum consisting of 19 countries and the EU, established in 1999 to increase multilateral co-operation for global economic recovery and development. Italy assumed its presidency last December.

G20 members account for more than 80% of the world’s gross domestic product, 75% of global trade and 60% of the population.

As G20 leaders sit to discuss strategies in grappling with the Covid-19 pandemic, case numbers continue to spike in yet another wave of infections.

Italy, which was devastated by the virus early last year, surprised many on Monday after it became a ‘mask-free’ country considered a low risk zone for the virus, according to a report by a South African news channel.

Italian health minister Roberto Speranza, however, urged residents to remain vigilant despite the easing of conditions.

“It’s an encouraging result, but caution and prudence is still needed, especially because of the new variants. The battle is not won,” Speranza said, according to the South African news channel.

Editor@tech-talk.co.za

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