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G20 Summit 2023: Key Milestones and Global Perspectives ; By Annunthra Rangan

Updated: Mar 22

Image courtesy: CNBCTV18

Article 29/ 2023

The G20 Leaders Summit under India’s Presidency that took place from September 9-11,2023 is a pivotal gathering, with India extending invitations to leaders from 11 countries to join as special guests in New Delhi. These nations include Bangladesh, Comoros, Nigeria, Egypt, Mauritius, Oman, Netherlands, Rwanda, Singapore, Spain, and the UAE. The scope of the G20, over the years, has broadened beyond economic and financial matters to encompass pressing global issues like climate change, sustainable energy, debt relief, and multinational corporation taxation. The discussions during this summit has dvelved into crucial topics such as augmenting loans to developing nations through multilateral institutions, reforming international debt frameworks, regulating cryptocurrencies, global fuel alliance and addressing the repercussions of geopolitical uncertainties on food and energy security. India is dedicated to combating climate change by prioritising climate finance, technology dissemination, and ensuring fair energy transitions in developing economies. Additionally, the introduction of the LiFE movement aligns with India's rich tradition of advocating for environmentally responsible practices.

Meanwhile, Britain’s PM Rishi Sunak announced a substantial pledge of $2 billion to the Green Climate Fund (GCF), bolstering the capacity of developing nations to combat climate change. As the world's largest climate fund established under the United Nations' aegis, the GCF plays a pivotal role in facilitating financial support for less affluent nations striving to meet ambitious carbon emission reduction targets, promoting cleaner energy sources, and adapting to a warming world.

The Summit witnessed a series of unprecedented milestones that promise to reshape the course of global affairs. Foremost among them was the historic inclusion of the African Union (AU) as a permanent member, a monumental step towards fostering worldwide inclusivity and representation. Composing the world's largest economies, the G20 also rallied behind the New Delhi Leaders Summit Declaration, championing an era defined by peace and adherence to international law, with a particular emphasis on upholding territorial integrity and sovereignty. This declaration underscored the pivotal role of peaceful conflict resolution, diplomacy, and open dialogue in nurturing a harmonious global community.

The New Delhi Leaders' Declaration highlighted the G20 nations' acknowledgment of the role that secure and reliable digital public infrastructure (DPI) plays in facilitating service delivery and driving innovation. While being mindful of potential challenges associated with artificial intelligence (AI), the countries expressed their commitment to adopting a pro-innovation stance. Additionally, the declaration affirmed member states' dedication to leveraging all accessible digital tools and technologies, leaving no stone unturned in nurturing robust and secure digital ecosystems. Furthermore, they pledged to work towards universal financial inclusion, ensuring that every global citizen has access to financial services.

Another vital moment came with the joint signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) by India, the United States, UAE, Saudi Arabia, France, Germany, Italy, and the European Union, marking the establishment of the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor. This corridor, comprising robust rail and shipping links, is poised to fortify trade routes connecting India, West Asia, and Europe, effectively revitalising the ancient Spice Route and accounting for nearly one-third of the global economy. (China)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi unveiled an initiative aimed at elevating ethanol blending in petrol to a remarkable 20%. The proposal is set to pave the way for the establishment of the Global Biofuel Alliance (GBA), extending a global invitation for countries to join this transformative effort. PM Modi stated, "Our proposal is to take an initiative at a global level to take ethanol blending in petrol up to 20%. In this context, we are launching the Global Biofuel Alliance. India invites all of you to join this initiative." This visionary step towards enhancing the use of biofuels underscores India's commitment to sustainable energy solutions on the global stage.

The Indian government has also pledged to play a facilitating role in the development, adoption, and implementation of internationally recognized standards, codes, sustainability principles, and regulations. This proactive approach is designed to incentivize the widespread adoption and trade of biofuels, marking a significant stride towards a greener and more sustainable energy future. In a press release, the petroleum ministry hailed the announcement of the GBA as a testament to India's proactive and action-oriented agenda as the G20 President, championing the voice and interests of the Global South. The GBA is poised to serve as a platform for capacity-building exercises, offering technical support for national biofuel programs and encouraging the sharing of policy insights and best practices. 19 countries, including major players like the United States and Brazil and 12 international organisations have also expressed their intent to be part of this pioneering effort.

The G20 countries have united in acknowledgment of the vital importance of safeguarding the world's oceans, reiterating their unwavering dedication to the preservation and rejuvenation of marine ecosystems. This commitment was enshrined in the G20 declaration, which warmly embraced the Chennai High-Level Principles for a Sustainable and Resilient Blue/Ocean-based Economy. These principles underscore the pressing need for a sustainable approach to harnessing the potential of the ocean-based economy, emphasising the imperative of bolstering global cooperation to tackle maritime issues and fortifying financial support for ocean-related initiatives.

Notably, the G20 consensus declaration received commendation from Russia for its balanced approach, abstaining from direct criticism of Moscow in the context of the conflict in Ukraine. The 2022 invasion of Ukraine by Russia has left a profound impact, with tens of thousands of lives lost, millions displaced, and global economic ramifications. Despite international concerns, Moscow maintains that its actions constitute a "special military operation" and vehemently denies any involvement in atrocities. These monumental strides in global diplomacy and cooperation signal a pivotal moment in history, reflecting a united effort towards peace, economic prosperity, and environmental sustainability. The decisions forged at the G20 Summit in New Delhi are poised to reverberate across the globe, shaping a future defined by collaboration and progress.

The China Factor in G20:

Xi's decision to skip the G20 summit, a departure from his attendance since assuming the presidency in 2013, signified a notable shift in his approach. In November 2012, he had positioned himself as a statesman advocating for harmonious international relations. China's negotiators, however, risked being perceived as overly contentious by attempting to impede India's progress, even raising objections to minor matters such as Modi's use of a Sanskrit phrase and the U.S.'s bid to host the G20 gathering in 2026. The Global Times, a publication linked with the Communist Party, dismissed the U.S. as a mere imitator for its West Asia infrastructure proposal.

According to Xinhua News Agency's official report, China's Li emphasised to leaders that the G20 should prioritise unity over division and cooperation over confrontation. This statement followed a commentary from a Chinese think tank associated with the nation's top intelligence agency, which criticised India for disrupting the collaborative atmosphere at the G20 by pushing its own agenda. Ultimately, China yielded in its opposition to the communiqué, and India received commendation from all sides for brokering a compromise. Insiders revealed that the breakthrough came when India, along with Indonesia, Brazil, and South Africa, jointly presented a proposal on the language used to describe the conflict.

Chinese Premier Li Qiang’s statements:

Chinese Premier Li Qiang emphasized that China's progress presents an opportunity, rather than a threat, for Europe. He assured that both presently and in the future, China will remain a reliable friend and ally to Europe.

Li stressed the importance of focusing on development, stating, "Only by effectively addressing current challenges can we pave the way for a prosperous future." He also highlighted that G20 members should prioritize the issue of development in their macro-policy coordination efforts. He further stated that the world is currently experiencing a challenging phase characterized by intricate and unpredictable developments. As these challenges become more pronounced, there arises a greater necessity to bolster confidence and foster positive outlooks for the future. He emphasized the importance of adopting a long-term perspective and proactively addressing the difficulties and obstacles that arise.

Li emphasized the imperative to institute more effective cooperation mechanisms, undertake tangible measures, and provide substantial support to developing nations in tackling pressing development issues like poverty alleviation, fundraising, climate change, and ensuring food and energy security.

He also underscored the importance of upholding genuine multilateralism, forging global development alliances, and establishing a secure and steady international milieu conducive to shared development.

Leaders in attendance at the meeting concurred that the G20 should exhibit accountability, advance international collaboration, nurture a development approach that is inclusive, sustainable, and centered on people, and guarantee that the application of digital technologies, including artificial intelligence, contributes to the betterment of human well-being.

Excerpts from Global Times Article:

During the G20 Summit in India, the US revealed its Middle East railway initiative. However, Chinese experts have voiced scepticism regarding its credibility and feasibility, citing past instances of empty promises from Washington to various countries and regions. These experts argue that the Biden administration's true aim is to "isolate China" in the Middle East, an area where Chinese collaboration has been steadily gaining momentum in recent years. This observation comes in response to an announcement by US President Joe Biden and Indian officials concerning a multinational railway and port agreement linking the Middle East with South Asia, which was made on the sidelines of the G20 Summit.

(Ms. Annunthra K is a research officer at C3S. The views expressed are those of the author and does not reflect the views of C3S.)
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