US Vice-President Kamala Harris called for global efforts to fight poverty at the Paris Peace Forum on Thursday.
"Today, we face a dramatic rise in inequality, and we must rise to meet this moment," Harris said at the opening of the Paris Peace Forum. "We, as leaders, must ask why this inequality persists.
"As we recover from this pandemic, ... we must challenge the status quo and build something better," she added.
The multi-day event was started by French President Emmanuel Macron in 2018 to bring together world leaders, businesses, non-governmental organizations and civil society representatives to exchange views on contemporary global challenges.
Wide gap widening even more
At the start of this year's event, Harris highlighted the wealth gap between rich and poor nations and how it has widened considerably during the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said it was "unacceptable" and that a "challenge of this scale and magnitude," requires that the "world must work together in solidarity."
Referring to climate change, human rights issues and the coronavirus pandemic, Macron said many steps had been taken, but he added that it was not time for leaders to pat themselves on the back.
"The difficulty is that they are not going fast enough, they are not yet fair enough," he said. "There is an infinite amount of work left for us to do."
Signaling geopolitical priorities
Harris' visit to the Paris Peace Forum is one of several gestures of reconciliation the US has made to their oldest French allies after a diplomatic dispute erupted between France and the US and Australia over a new Indo-Pacific alliance that saw Australia drop a major French submarine contract. Before arriving at the peace forum, Harris took part in the commemoration for the end of World War I.
Thirty heads of government are scheduled to attend the Paris Peace Forum this year, including several from sub-Saharan African countries.
Macron also released a joint appeal with big tech giants Google and Amazon along with other organizations and individual states, calling for greater collaboration between businesses, governments and civil society to ensure child safety online.