Narrowing the gap between the fortunes of advanced and developing economies was a central topic on the first day of the G20 meetings in Venice. Bruno Le Maire, France’s finance minister, told reporters on Friday that inequality was a risk to the stability and security of Europe that could lead to an influx of refugees. He argued that it must be urgently addressed.
It remains to be seen how far the $650 billion will go to help developing countries as they race to vaccinate people before new variants of the virus take hold, including the Delta variant, which has plunged many countries back into a health crisis.
The United Nations Conference on Trade and Development called this year for $1 trillion worth of Special Drawing Rights to be made available by the I.M.F. as a “helicopter money drop for those being left behind.”
Jubilee USA Network, a nonprofit organization that advocates debt relief for poor countries, praised the move by the I.M.F. and called on wealthy countries to do more to help.
“This is the biggest creation of emergency reserve funds that we’ve ever seen, and developing countries will immediately receive more than $200 billion,” said Eric LeCompte, executive director of Jubilee USA Network. “Wealthy countries who receive emergency reserves they don’t need should transfer those resources to developing countries struggling through the pandemic.”
The I.M.F., the World Bank, the World Health Organization and the World Trade Organization have created a new vaccine task force and called for an additional $50 billion investment to broaden access to supplies. The groups have also called on G20 countries to set a goal of having 40 percent of their populations vaccinated by the end of this year and 60 percent by the middle of next year.
The United States has thrown its support behind the expansion of the I.M.F. reserves, reversing a Trump administration policy and angering Republican lawmakers in the process.