At a meeting hosted by Transport Secretary Grant Shapps on 30 September 2021, G7 transport and health ministers from major global economies agreed a series of measures to align their international travel strategies, through 7 principles that will drive global standards on international travel and build a long-lasting recovery for the international travel sector.
The 7 principles are:
- futureproofing the transportation sector against future health threats
- ensuring the fair treatment and safety of essential transport personnel
- respecting privacy and data protection in implementing vaccination certification solutions
- reaffirming the pre-eminence of scientific evidence in planning international travel policy
- ensuring fairness and equity in respective national responses
- maintaining regular international and multilateral engagement
- delivering a safe, sustainable and resilient recovery
G7 members should share plans for the resumption of international travel as they evolve, including with non-G7 partners, to enable early identification of common ground and opportunities to influence and encourage discussions, and to maximise consistency where feasible and appropriate, through larger multilateral fora.
Engagement through the G7 should occur regularly at the technical level, and, as needed, at the official and ministerial level to ensure G7 ambitions, as set out in the leaders’ communique, are met.
This global approach should be consistent with those of other multilateral partners such as the World Health Organization (WHO), International Maritime Organization (IMO) and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), including encouraging new public health guidance on international travel by land, air or sea, including cruise ships, by those organisations.
The G7 acknowledges the positive development of the EU digital COVID certificate, which is operational internationally, and other solutions being adopted, developed or considered by G7 members, including those based on ICAO visible digital seal (VdS) standards.
G7 members should continue to encourage collaboration, including with industry stakeholders, on these solutions and minimum interoperability standards, to ensure widely accepted, privacy-preserving, equitable, verifiable and secure solutions for sharing health status information.
G7 members should reaffirm the preeminent role of scientific evidence in the review and monitoring of the epidemiological and public health situation and in the recalibration and planning of policy responses for international travel.
The G7 is acutely mindful of the need for a flexible framework that can facilitate international travel while responding to the emergence of new COVID-19 variants of concern and evidence of their impact in relation to vaccines. As such, the G7 can play a valuable role in promoting best practices and sharing public health and scientific evidence used to inform decision-making.
Fairness and equity
The G7 should promote a global framework for the safe and sustainable resumption of international travel that considers issues of equity among countries at different stages of vaccine rollout or with different technological capabilities and the protection of those with highly vulnerable populations.
Regarding proof of vaccination status, as well as proof of testing results, countries should accept both digital and non-digital means of demonstrating compliance. Public health measures such as testing, including certification for negative tests, and self-isolation or quarantine should continue to be considered alongside vaccinations as risk mitigation measures, and implemented in accordance with the International Health Regulations (2005), including obligations related to treatment of travellers.
The G7 should consider the possibility that future infectious disease threats may require the review and fast response to control and restart international travel as safely, sustainably, and quickly as possible, learning from COVID-19.
Engagement and collaboration should be built on these high-level principles as COVID-19 transitions from pandemic to endemic in order to ensure that the transportation sector can help prevent, respond and mitigate health threats while building the resilience to maintain or restore connectivity as safely and quickly as possible.
The programme of work should consider the long-term impacts of the pandemic on travel and transport in line with efforts undertaken in other fora.
Fair treatment of essential transport personnel
G7 members should reaffirm their commitment to promote a closely coordinated international approach to the treatment of air, maritime and land crews.
This should be consistent with recognised public health standards and applied in a pragmatic manner to both protect crew health and alleviate unnecessary burdens and barriers to their work, including through exemptions, to avoid impacts on critical continued aviation, maritime and land transport operations.
G7 members should also consider all options to ensure fair crew treatment based on this principle at ports of entry around the world and help provide crew members with access to vaccines.
Privacy and data protection
Privacy and data protection elements are critically important in the design of any digital solution for proof of vaccination and testing status. G7 members should work with the relevant government and independent data protection agencies to ensure that privacy and data protection are incorporated into any such solutions.
The G7 should develop a shared vision for a safe, sustainable and resilient recovery of international travel, addressing the long-term global challenge of climate change.
In a manner consistent with the goal of net zero emissions for our economies by 2050, G7 countries should take a comprehensive approach to accelerate the decarbonisation of transport, enabling economies to ‘build back better’ from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This will require relevant policies and actions to support the uptake of cleaner technologies in land, air and maritime transport, such as zero emission vehicles and sustainable fuels, as well as to favour demand shifts towards more sustainable transport modes, including public transport, shared mobility, cycling and walking, and to enhance supply and safety in these modes.