The G20 Just Agreed to “Build on the Success” (Sic) of Digital COVID-19 Certificates for Future Pandemics

Even as divisions rise in the world, the governments of the world’s largest economies appear to be on a strikingly similar page when it comes to rolling out digital health certificates, digital identity schemes and central bank digital currencies.

On Wednesday, (Nov.16) the Group of Twenty, or G-20, brought their annual meeting, this time in Bali, Indonesia, to an end. In customary style, the leaders of the world’s 19 largest national economies (Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan,  Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States) and the EU released a Leaders’ Declaration, which this year included 52 statements of intent.

The twenty-third of those 52 statements includes the following text (emphasis mine):

We acknowledge the importance of shared technical standards and verification methods, under the framework of the IHR (2005), to facilitate seamless international travel, interoperability, and recognizing digital solutions and non-digital solutions, including proof of vaccinations. We support continued international dialogue and collaboration on the establishment of trusted global digital health networks as part of the efforts to strengthen prevention and response to future pandemics, that should capitalize and build on the success of the existing standards and digital COVID-19 certificates.

When it comes to the COVID-19 certificates, particularly the vaccine passports used across most Western countries, it is hard to imagine what exactly the G-20 means by the word “success”. As a means of reducing transmission of COVID-19, the vaccine passports used in Europe, North America and Australia did precious little, for the simple reason that the vaccines to which they are tied are non-sterilizing. As a Pfizer executive recently admitted to a European Parliament special commission, Pfizer never tested its product for preventing transmission.

Indeed, COVID-19 vaccine passports may have actually exacerbated the spread of the disease by creating a false sense of security among vaccine recipients. How else to explain the fact that by the end of 2021 the European Union, whose 27 member states had been using vaccine passports to one degree or another for half a year, was once again ground zero for the COVID-19 pandemic?

Yet the governments of all G-20 economies have just acknowledged the importance of “recognizing digital and non-digital solutions, including proof of vaccinations,” in combating COVID-19 and future pandemics. They are also calling for the establishment of “trusted global digital health networks.”

In a preliminary meeting of G20 health ministers, on Oct. 27-28, the ministers agreed that they would “endeavor to move towards interoperability of systems including mechanisms that validate proof of vaccination, whilst respecting the sovereignty of national health policies, and relevant national regulations such as personal data protection and data-sharing.”

Private Sector in the Driving Seat

Harmonizing national or regional vaccine passport standards and systems is key to building a global digital health or vaccine certificate system. And it is the private sector that is largely driving this process. There are a number of private partnerships working to make vaccine passport standards and systems interoperable at a global level. They include:

  • The Vaccine Credential Initiative (VCI™), whose partners include U.S. government contractor MITRE Corporation, Amazon Web Services, Microsoft, Oracle, Sales Force and Mayo Clinic. According to its own website, the VCI™ has helped to implement SMART health cards in 15 jurisdictions: the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United Arab Emirates, Japan, Hong Kong, Israel, the Cayman Islands, Puerto Rico, Singapore, Senegal, Qatar, Rwanda, North Macedonia and Aruba. It has also helped to “quietly” roll out digital vaccine certificates across 21 US states
  • The Commons Project Foundation (CPJ), which was founded by the Rockefeller Foundation and is supported by the World Economic Forum.
  • The Good Health Pass Collaborative, which was founded last year by Mastercard, IBM, Grameen Foundation and the International Chamber of Commerce. The organization is the brainchild of the world’s largest digital identity advocacy group, the New York-based ID2020 Alliance, which itself was set up in 2016 with seed money from Microsoft, Accenture, PwC, the Rockefeller Foundation, Cisco and Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance. The ID2020 Alliance’s goal is to “enable access to digital identity for every person on the planet.”

Prior to the Group of Twenty (G20) Summit on November 15-16, the Business 20 (B20) held its own summit in Bali from November 13-14, which was attended by more than 3,300 delegates including 2,000 CEOs from 65 countries and several heads of state. The B20, which is the official G20 dialogue forum with the global business community and is tasked with formulating policy recommendations on designated issues, also called for a global health certificate.

The event’s sponsors include:

  • Accenture
  • Deloitte
  • Global Business Coalition (GBC), which, like the World Economic Forum, is heavily involved in promoting public private partnerships. Its members include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, BusinessEurope, the Confederation of Indian Industry and others
  • Boston Consulting Group (BCG)
  • International Chamber of Commerce, which bills itself as the “largest, most representative busines organization in the world”
  • McKinsey & Company
  • Institute of Internal Auditors
  • International Organization of Employers, which describes itself as the “largest network of the private sector in the world”
  • International Federation of Accountants (IFAC)
  • World Bank Group
  • World Economic Forum, which has arguably done more than any other business organization to privatize the United Nations
  • World Resources Institute (WRI)

The B20 also has a small group of what it calls “Knowledge Partners,” all of whom are Western consultancy firms (Accenture, BCG, Deloitte, EY, Mckinsey, and PwC). Many of them are also sponsors of the event. The B20 also has what it calls “Network Partners,” who include the WRI, the Basel Institute on Governance, the Asian Development Bank, Business OECD, GBC, IIA, IOE, the World Bank, UN Women and WEF. Again, almost all of these organizations are based either in the US or Europe.

On the first day of the B20 Summit, Indonesia’s Minister of Health Budi Gunadi Sadikin called on G20 countries to adopt a “digital health certificate using WHO standards.” He also said they were looking to incorporate this type of vaccine passport into the “international health regulations” during the next World Health Assembly in Geneva.

When we have another pandemic, we understand that to stop the spread of the virus we have to limit, not stop, the movement of people… So let’s have a digital health certificate acknowledged by the WHO. If you have been vaccinated or tested properly then you can move around. So for the next pandemic, instead of stopping the movement of people and the global economy 100%, you can still allow some movement of people.

As readers may recall from my March 1 post, Are Vaccine Passports About to Go Totally Global?, the World Health Organization seems poised to lend its endorsement to a global health certificate after publicly opposing vaccine passports for more than a year. In February, T-Systems, the IT services arm of Deutsche Telekom, announced in a press release that it had been chosen by the WHO as an “industry partner” to help introduce digital vaccine passports as a standard procedure not only for COVID-19 vaccines but also “other vaccinations such as polio or yellow fever, across 193 countries” as well as presumably other vaccines that come on line in the future.

As I noted in that post, the timing of the WHO’s purported policy reversal was curious given that back in April 2021 the organization had refused to endorse vaccine passports because it was not yet clear whether the vaccines actually prevented transmission of the virus:

We at WHO are saying at this stage we would not like to see the vaccination passport as a requirement for entry or exit because we are not certain at this stage that the vaccine prevents transmission,” WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris said at a UN news briefing. “There are all those other questions, apart from the question of discrimination against the people who are not able to have the vaccine for one reason or another.”

Now that we know for sure that the COVID-19 vaccines do not prevent transmission of COVID-19 in the Omicron era…, the WHO apparently feels that now is an ideal time to endorse vaccine passports for global travel. This is happening less than two months after the region of the world with the highest per-capita take up of vaccine passports, Europe, was the epicenter of the Omicron wave. It’s also happening as concerns are quickly growing about the safety of the mRNA vaccines for COVID-19.

There are plenty of other reasons why we should worry about the mandatory application of vaccine passports for global travel, including:

  • The threat they pose to our privacy;
  • The additional abilities and powers they grant to governments and corporations to track, trace and control the population;
  • The not insignificant risk that our most personal data, including our health information and biometric identifiers, could be hacked, leaked or simply shared with third parties;
  • The polarizing, discriminatory and segregational effects vaccine passports are already having across societies, affecting marginalized groups the most;
  • The threat they pose to many of our most basic rights and freedoms, including long-standing bioethical principles such as bodily autonomy, bodily integrity, and the informed consent of the patient ended.

As I contend in my book, Scanned: Why Vaccine Passports and Digital Identity Will Mean the End of Privacy and Personal Freedom, a digital vaccine passport or health certificate is “nothing more and nothing less than a digital ID.” Their mass roll out over the past year and a half has served as an opportunity not only to embed some of the necessary infrastructure for digital identity systems but also to aclimatize large segments of the population to the idea that digital certification is needed to access the most basic of services and venues.

As the following infographic from the World Economic Forum shows, digital identity could be used to govern just about every aspect of our lives, from our health to our money (particularly once central bank digital currencies are rolled out), to our business activities, to our private and public communications, to the information we are able to access, to our dealings with government, to the food we eat and the goods we buy.


“The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the transformation of the digital ecosystem and digital economy,” notes the G20 in its Leaders’ Declaration. In its final communique, the B20 recommended, as a matter of policy, that the G20 support and promote not just vaccine passports but also more encompassing public and private digital identity schemes, which it said should be used as a building block for data privacy and digital trust (h/t Tim Hinchcliffe at The Sociable).

The G20’s Leaders’ Declaration includes a small paragraph on central bank digital currencies and the future role they could play in facilitating cross-border payments. Unsurprisingly, no mention is made of the huge surveillance powers and controls they will grant governments and central banks over their increasingly restive populaces:

We welcome continued exploration of how CBDCs could potentially be designed to facilitate cross-border payments, while preserving the stability and integrity of the international monetary and financial system. We welcome the successful completion of the G20 TechSprint 2022, a joint initiative with the BISIH, which has contributed to the debate on the most practical and feasible solutions to implement CBDCs.

As previously reported here, 90 of the world’s central banks are either in the process of experimenting with or are already piloting a CBDC. In a world of just over 190 countries that is a large contingent, but given they include the European Central Bank (ECB) which alone represents 19 Euro Area economies, the actual number of economies involved is well over 100. They include all G20 economies. At the same time, governments and corporations on all five continents are quietly but quickly rolling out digital ID programs.

Granted, this G20 Leaders’ Declaration is brimming with statements of intent that will probably never come to fruition. As the German finance journalist Norbert Haering notes, the G20, despite the seniority of its participants, is ultimately seen as an informal club with no decision-making powers. And as tensions continue to rise between the West and the rest, it remains to be seen just how much the governments of countries like China, Russia, Brazil, Mexico and India will be willing to honor the pledges made in Bali.

But it is nonetheless noteworthy that even as divisions and factions rise in the world, the governments of the world’s 19 largest economies together with the EU appear to be on a strikingly similar page when it comes to rolling out digital health certificates, digital identity schemes and central bank digital currencies.


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  1. ArkansasAngie

    Well … I protest. I will not participate in any “health cards”. I will resist such cards to the best of my puny ability. Authoritative world government. No! And … if you do NOT have enough empathy and compassion to realize that they will come for you, too … well … you are the problem.

  2. Ignacio

    Well, this is “shitty” to say the least. The G20 is firm in idiotic state, IMO. To start with, because you don’t know and cannot predict the characteristics of the next pandemic (pathogenicity, virulence, R0, R1, behaviour by age cohorts, vaccine profiles and results etc. resuming: risks and results) you cannot advance idiotic certificates. Not least important you cannot or shouldn’t rule on civic liberties in such a liberal way unless we are definitely going to some kind of new values and rules which should be first voted in advance and changed in democratic constitutions.

    Looks like in many senses, supranational entities like the EU or the G20 in this case are taking roles and responsibilities that do not belong to them. It seems national leaders use these entities to advance politics out of democratic scrutiny.

  3. flora

    Thanks for this post. Important stuff.

    And what is a pandemic now (after they changed the definition of pandemic at the WHO)? It’s what ever Tedros or the next guy says it is.

    The WHO’s Pandemic Treaty is still in the works. It must be voted down. Digital IDs must be avoided at the individual level if necessary; without Digital IDs the CBDC doesn’t work, can’t work. (The ‘cross border payments’ argument for CBDCs is a red herring.) All three – CBDCs, digital IDs, Pandemic Treaty – are a comprehensive social control scheme beyond the dreams of the worst men in history. This rollout has been in the works for at least 20 years if the history of coincidental changes in definitions and other aspects are any guide. My 2 cents.

    The usual suspect Klaus Schwab gave a speech at the G20.

  4. The Rev Kev

    I could see these digital health certificates being put to another use and that is to control the movement of the populations of certain countries. So suppose another pandemic springs up and how it is met is a copy of how the present one is met. Now vaccines like Pzifer, Moderna, AstraZeneca, etc. got the gold stamp of approval this time so is you had both shots, you could jump aboard a plane and be on your way. The requirement for booster shots came later.

    But remember how approval for the Russian and Chinese vaccines really met resistance? I have no idea of their present status but the approval for either was slow-walked as long as possible or many countries just banned it – perhaps due to not wanting them to compete with the officially approved vaccines. Special exceptions had to be made for traveling Russian diplomats for example. This is recorded fact.

    My point is that if you have a repeat of the pandemic, you could, using these digital health certificates, ban the populations of whole countries with the flick of a switch unless they got an approved vaccine. And if you hampered the shipments of that approved vaccine, then they would be all out of luck. Remember too how the Global South was denied vaccines this time as the developed countries hoarded them to a bizarre extent? Next time around you could severely limit travel from travelers from those nations since they need those vaccines for a digital health certificate but can’t get them in their country. Well, except for the elites that is.

  5. David

    If you read the statement carefully, two things are obvious. First, as with most such statements, it tries to incorporate conflicting points of view, thus the clumsy phrasing. The fact that the word “including” comes before “proof of vaccination” probably means that some countries wanted a reference to vaccination and others didn’t. Second, there’s nothing in the extract about Covid-19 certificates having been effective in restricting the spread of the disease. Had the signatories wanted to claim that, they would have done so. All that’s actually being claimed is that the digital certificates were technically effective.

    We discussed all this last year, I think, and a number of us pointed out that the scheme basically exists already, through what’s popularly known as a health passport, a yellow WHO document, one of which I have in my possession, and which contains records of … vaccinations. Some countries won’t let you in without the right vaccinations, and some countries won’t let you in if you’ve recently come from a country where there’s an infectious disease, and you have no proof of vaccination. European members of the G20, and perhaps the US, are probably mainly worried about the fact that diseases we had thought eliminated decades ago are now breaking out again, largely because of the uncontrolled movement of people in Europe and the porousness of its borders.

    1. flora

      Maybe borders should be less porous.
      Also, paper cards have worked forever. I have mine. The digital step is, imo, like computer voting. Sold as more efficient and easier, but in practice so many pitfalls. / ;)

    2. Ignacio

      Vague it is but says things that IMO are worrying. When they write things like “ ..we support international dialogue and collaboration on the establishment of trusted global digital networks as part of the efforts to strengthen prevention and response to future pandemics..” I personally don’t know whether to laugh or cry. Please somebody tell me what digital certificate should help to prevent future pandemics when you already don’t know the “bug” that will cause the next pandemic. Isn’t this putting excessive faith on the digital side of life as if chips would identify next unknown pathogen from thin air? Instead, a very different kind of vigilance should be necessary on animal food supply chains if one really wants to prevent something. But then when they go to applaud a certificate system that wants to “capitalize” on a total failure like Covid certificates one wonders what kind of kool aid mixed with the best cocaine brand are these guys drinking and sniffing. If they had been talking for instance of a good example that works, such as yellow fever vaccines, one could be at least confident they know what the hell they are talking about but if they low the bar to trust in dubious schemes that have done nothing but to build a false confidence that is doing nothing to prevent the spread of Covid. On the contrary!

  6. Thistlebreath

    Great piece of seeing dark clouds ahead.

    Earworm of the Day: The Flying Pickets; Lost Boys

    Lyrics: Remember this, nothing is sacred
    We live right beside the abyss
    Remember this, there is no doubt
    That your name is on somebody’s list

    Remember this, the cloud you live under
    Is hiding the thunder to come
    Remember this, truth’s out of season
    They’ll try you for treason, my son

    Remember this, Venceremos
    They can’t tame us, please remember this
    Venceremos, we’ll be famous, our names on every list
    Remember this, requiems don’t quite make up for the loss of a life
    Remember this, southern bananas fall prey to piranhas by night
    Venceremos, they can’t tame us, please remember this
    Venceremos, we’ll be famous, our names on every list

    Lost out here in the market place with nowhere left to run
    Too many people have disappeared to doubt what has been done
    Remember this, locked in the stadium are people who’ve fought without fear
    Remember this, battered and broken for what they have spoken for years
    Remember this…

  7. will rodgers horse

    once more, the Conspiracy Folks were spot on.
    Will anyone wake up in time or is this all a forgone conclusion? Orwell rolling in grave

    1. Jeff

      No one wants to admit they were and are wrong, and no one wants to admit they got conned. So instead we have this.

      Thanks to all too full of hubris and propaganda to fess up. Brilliant

  8. Haptick

    This bullshit must be resisted with ferocity. One way to discourage its implementation would be for people to do the one thing that terrifies government:
    Refuse to pay taxes.

    File an exemption from withholding, keep your money except SS/disability deductions, if getting a paycheck, work for cash and to hell with them.

    Have two friends on Do Not Fly List.
    They both claim that equals being on the Do Not File List.

    Same for any future vaccine passport caused inability to earn a living.

    1. Yves Smith

      Being on a payroll and not paying income taxes = a fast track to getting your property seized. If they can’t find your bank accounts, they will go after your car and real estate.

      And Federal taxes do not fund Federal spending, so this sort of protest is a feel good act of self destruction.

  9. Kouros

    What could go wrong?

    Would a massive solar flare frying electronics could be considered a Black Swan? We don’t know how many such events happened in the past where metal coin and paper documents ruled.

  10. Societal Illusions

    I read the proclamation yesterday, which clearly demonstrate the conspiracy theorists can only be correct. I see no other way of dissecting this document.

    Curios what the consequences will be for those who opt out? How many will succumb to these intrusions in the name of convenience?

  11. Savita

    Certain respected and well informed commentators on this blog have expressed not only their total support for the requirement of a covid passport for individuals to live a normal life – visiting public spaces, catching a train, visiting a supermarket, having a job.But indeed went even further and expressed a patronising,mocking disdain for the individuals comprising the groups protesting in public against their governments insistence on enforcing such overt medical apartheid. As if to say, ‘shut up and have your vaccines like it or not’. The ignorance of the protestors,according to the commentator, was that the vaccines were necessary to protect ‘everyone else’. I recall this same one, seemingly trained in the art of composing state-sanctioned ripostes in
    order to effectively influence , used the anecdote of cafe staff making a joke of the green pass,as some sort of justification all was fine with it and it
    was no big deal . Anyone concerned about it, well, I guess they weren’t in on the joke. And, now here we are.

    1. flora

      I highly recommend today’s Water Cooler utube segment under Zeitgeist Watch about crypto, NFTs, (and so much more). It’s long, 2.5 hours, moves at a brisk lively pace, covers lots of territory and the second half is peppered with information that is equally applicable to these Great Reset CBDC schemes. The correlation is unmistakable. Anyone who claims a govt “would do cdbc better, safer, more trustworthy and more transparent” than crypto is wrong, imo. It would be even more opaque to the user and more exploitative for the controllers.

    2. flora

      Yes. I was sad to see such naivety in some NC readers. Well, NC is a good place to learn about frauds and political shenanigans. The biggest shocker for me was what Noam Chomsky said. He curled up in a ball of fear I guess.

  12. Taurus

    We change as we age, sometimes dramatically. Don’t let the utterances of the 90 year old Chomsky taint the amazing work he did for 50 years :)

    1. rob

      I am not familiar with all of chomsky’s works, but I do have a couple of his books.
      personally, I have always thought of him as a “half-measure”.
      Sure he “sort of” critiques ruling class actions and explanations, but usually in some way that also justifies all those actions and beliefs.
      He is very “pro-establishment”, even while criticizing points. And to the point of this thread, I would guess he would find a way to justify the initial stages of this bureaucratic over-reach, even in his hey day; which on it’s face can be explained as some prudent rationale, but really we all know, that every opportunity to abuse powers given, is taken by the ruling class. That is a certainty. And chomsky always seems unable to grasp the depth of the depravity of the ruling elites.

      1. Lysias

        Chomsky started dismissing conspiracy theories about the JFK assassination very shortly after the event. Same story with 9/11.

        He’s always been controlled opposition.

  13. Rip Van Winkle

    So –

    Was the trip to Bali ESG positive or negative?

    ‘The events sponsors…’ – well no surprises on that list!

    If Gaddafi were still alive where would he stand on it? Who (ha – get it?) are the dictators, tyrants and terrorists these days?

    Which ‘21 U.S. states’? Perhaps coincidentally those could use a federal government handout for their broke government pensions as long as they go along with the program. Miraculously Illinois’ financials have improved the past 2+ years even with downtown Chicago more than half empty, save for the weekend shooting gallery.

    Yes, federal taxes don’t fund federal spending. They are a tracking, control and political revenge mechanism. Best way to legally avoid paying federal taxes is to do nothing. I don’t even need to win at Powerball to do that. Or at least avoid everything ‘corporate’.

    Kouros, is there a Go Fund Me fundraiser for a solar flare event?

    As far as border tracking and its consequences, if I get caught sneaking through that golf course in eastern Maine into Quebec will Justin Trudeau pop for a free bus ride with box lunch for me to Texas or would something else happen? Just sayin.

Comments are closed.