G-20: The Roadmap to India’s Presidency

By V Srinivas

India’s G-20 Presidency commenced from December 1st, 2022. For a Nation deeply committed to multilateralism and democracy, the G-20 Presidency represents a very significant moment in India’s history.

Since Independence, India has engaged with multilateral institutions, and contributed to combating the challenges of contemporary global governance. India’s inclusive governance model with emphasis on multilateralism can significantly enable the G-20 to make a serious contribution to making globalization fairer, sustainable while transforming the processes of international negotiations.

The G-20 has 19 member countries and the European Union which represent 90 percent of global GDP and 80 percent of global trade and 2/3rds of global population. The G-20 designated as the premier forum for international economic cooperation, has over the past two decades, formulated an agenda for strong, sustainable and balanced growth; strengthened international financial regulatory system; reformed the mandate, mission and governance of the International Monetary Fund; deliberated on Energy Security and Climate Change, strengthened the support for the most vulnerable countries and placed quality jobs at the heart of the recovery. 

In 2020, the G-20 led the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic with a $10 trillion bailout package that focused on addressing the economic and health crisis.

Over the past 18 years, the G-20’s agenda has expanded to include additional issues affecting the financial markets, trade, health care, education, anti-corruption, women’s development, skill building and youth promotion.

The G-20 Heads of Government and State Summit meetings have been held at Washington DC (2008), London and Pittsburgh (2009), Toronto and Seoul (2010), Cannes (2011), Mexico City (2012), Saint Petersburg (2013), Brisbane (2014), Antalya (2015), Hangzhou (2016), Hamburg (2017), Osaka (2018), Buenos Aires (2019) and Riyadh (2020). The 2021 Summit was held at Rome and the 2022 Summit was held in Bali.

The focus of the Riyadh Summit was to save lives, livelihoods and affected economies. The G-20 made significant efforts to fight the challenge.

The key features were the Debt Service Suspension Initiative, the principles of a common framework for debt beyond the Debt Sustainability Suspension Initiative, International economic assistance was in the form of Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust providing immediate debt service relief for 6 months and the Rapid Financing Instrument for along with Emergency Response Packages. The G-20 Health Ministers worked to collaborate on the COVID-19 Tools Accelerator initiative. They also strengthened the financial support for the “Access to COVID-19 Tools” and enhanced support for Universal Health Coverage Schemes.

The Rome Declaration’s priorities were outlined as People, Planet and Prosperity. Within these three inter-connected pillars, the Italian Presidency took the lead in evolving a swift international response to the pandemic. 

The G-20 looked at rapid recovery beyond the crisis, towards reducing inequalities, women’s empowerment, younger generations, protecting the most vulnerable by creating new jobs, social protection and food security and building a prosperous future, bridging the digital divide and making digitalization an opportunity for all, improve productivity and in short – leave no one behind.

The G-20 Bali Leaders Declaration, adopted on November 16, 2022 is a broad based, futuristic document which is in tune with the Indonesian Presidency’s G-20 theme of “Recover Together, Recover Stronger”.

The key features of the Bali G-20 Leaders Declaration covered the Ukraine War, Food Security, Climate Change, Accessible Health Care, Digital Skills and Literacy and Recover Together – Recover Stronger Policies. On the Margins of the G-20 Bali Summit, the NATO and G-7 Leaders issued a Joint Statement which said, “we condemn the barbaric missile attacks that Russia perpetrated on Ukrainian cities and civilian infrastructure on November 15, 2022…..; We reaffirm our steadfast support for Ukraine and the Ukrainian people.”

Multilateralism in the G-20 works through a number of international organizations including the United Nations, IMF, World Bank Group, OECD, WTO, ILO, FSB, and BIS contributing to the process. There also exist G-20 engagement groups like the Business 20, Civil Society 20, Labor 20, Think 20, and Youth 20 which contribute extensively to the G20 processes.

Given the complex nature of the global policy challenges, multilateral institutions remain critically important in providing safety nets, emergency liquidity, preventing crises from spreading and for progress in orderly debt restructuring.

In the past, G-20 has witnessed several major successes in multilateralism and there is optimism that renewed multilateralism efforts can succeed:

  • In 2008, in the backdrop of the Global Economic Crisis and the European Crisis, the G20’s focus was on enhanced surveillance of the world economy through the IMF and stronger financial sector regulation through the Financial Stability Board.
  • In 2015, the G20 led the IMF Quota and Governance reform to reflect the shares of dynamic economies in line with their relative positions in the world economy.
  • In 2017, The Leaders of the G20 despite the United States withdrawal stated that the Paris Agreement was irreversible. “Investing in Climate, Investing in Growth” was the line of the G20 as it adopted the Hamburg G20 Climate and Energy Action Plan for Growth.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi had addressed the G-20 Summit meetings from 2014-21 on a range of issues. PM Modi has attended an average of 25 meetings in each of the nine G-20 Summit meetings. These include bilateral meetings, pull-aside engagements, meetings of the RIC, the JAI and BRICS groupings. Prime Minister Modi has led the G-20 for more effective dealings with its original purpose of promoting sustainable growth and financial stability.

PM Modi has said India’s G-20 Presidency will be inclusive and action oriented. He has also said that the world is looking to India with hope and priority will be given to women led development. The novel ideas include the addition of a new engagement group Startup 20 to spur innovations across borders and facilitate in achieving the SDG targets and the Lifestyle for Future (LiFE) campaign for the future of the planet. 

India’s G-20 Presidency seeks to showcase the Nation’s strengths in digital infrastructure, direct benefits transfer, digital health and pharmaceuticals. Several key takeaways from the Bali Summit 2022 would continue to be relevant to the Indian Presidency.

The G-20 Indian Presidency arrived 18 years after the Leaders’ Summit meetings commenced and would be one of the most significant milestone moments of Indian democracy. It is widely felt that in times when there is a crisis of multilateralism, India has the responsibility for bringing stability to a deeply divided multipolar world and crafting broader global responses to the challenges. The theme of the Indian Presidency is “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” – One Earth, One Family, One Future. The agenda for the Indian Presidency will be of healing, harmony and hope.

PM Modi said, “The G20 is a unique opportunity to showcase to the world that India is not just confined to Delhi, but includes every State and Union Territory.”

V Srinivas is a 1989 batch IAS officer and is Secretary to Government of India, Department of Administrative Reforms and Public Grievances and Department of Pensions and Pensioners Welfare. He is also the author of the book titled, “G20@2023 – The Roadmap to Indian Presidency”.

Disclaimer: The views expressed are not necessarily those of The South Asian Times  

Images courtesy of (Image: The Diplomat), (Image: Provided) and Image Provided

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