Eric Garcetti, the US ambassador to India, also congratulated India on the successful landing of Chandrayaan-3 on the southern pole of the Moon
India’s Presidency has been historic for the G20 in many ways. Spanning 13 working groups and 11 engagement groups under the Sherpa Track, India introduced several significant initiatives to strengthen the voice of the Global South in particular.
The concerns of the developing world are not given adequate consideration on the global stage. The Voice of the Global South Summit, inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, saw the participation of 125 countries and 18 Heads of State, bringing together countries of the Global South to share their perspectives and priorities on a common platform. This assumed heightened importance in light of recent global developments such as the pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine, rising inflation, challenges of food and energy security, all of which have severely impacted the developing world.
Under the leadership of the Indian Presidency, the G20 welcomed the African Union as a permanent member. India’s consistent advocacy of the interests of the developing nations finds tangible expression in this significant step. This move was complemented by a very significant increase in African representation in the G20 discussions. Notably, countries like South Africa, Mauritius, Egypt, and Nigeria participated at the highest level, and the involvement of the African Union Chair from Comoros and AUDA-NEPAD further enriched the dialogue, reinforcing India’s commitment to amplify diverse voices on the global stage. As Prime Minister Modi stated in a recent interview, “This G20 is reflecting the voice and concerns of the Global South. This G20 is giving momentum to women-led development.”
Acknowledging the need for special attention to be paid to natural disasters, the Indian Presidency created a new group on Disaster Risk Reduction this year. Along with this, it introduced two new groups – the Startup 20 Engagement Group to focus on the priority promotion of a successful start-up ecosystem globally, as well as the G20 Chief Scientific Advisers Roundtable (CSAR). Science being a cross-cutting subject in all 13 engagements under the Sherpa track, CSAR is an unprecedented attempt at creating a dialogue between all Chief Science Advisers to build synergy among various sectors. It is a government-to-government level initiative for developing collaborative frameworks for global issues pertaining to science policy.
In its path towards an equal future, India has consistently emphasized the need to change the growth narrative from the development of women to women-led development. India’s G20 Presidency has been the first one to formulate an action plan to uphold Gender Equality and Empowerment of Women. India’s efforts in this area have successfully led to an agreement between the G20 countries to create a Working Group solely for women’s empowerment – the first meeting of which will be convened during Brazil’s G20 Presidency next year.
Technology has been a key priority for the Indian Presidency, with many steps taken to promote better policy-making in the digital realm. The G2O for the first time formulated High Level Principles on harnessing Data for Development. These can guide developing countries, especially, to maximize their potential for the achievement of the SDGs, while also respecting their development and policy priorities. To this end, India has launched a voluntary “Data for Development Capacity Building Initiative” which will provide capacity building training for policy-makers, officials and other relevant stakeholders from developing countries. Moreover, India organized the first G20 Conference to discuss Cybercrime – to specifically deliberate on challenges in the era of new and emerging technologies like Non-Fungible Tokens (NFTs), Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Metaverse.
Time and again, India has reiterated its commitment to protecting the environment and has delivered on this through the creation of the first G20 High Level Principles on Lifestyles for Sustainable Development. It aims to take urgent action to mainstream and scale up complementarities in addressing climate change, biodiversity loss, pollution, waste, land degradation and deforestation through sustainable consumption and production patterns.
The upcoming Leaders’ Summit in New Delhi is set to host an unprecedented gathering of 43 Heads of State. This turnout marks the largest assembly of leaders in the history of the G20. The convergence of these leaders symbolizes a needed effort to foster cooperation amid geopolitical differences in a quest to find shared solutions for a world facing complex existential challenges.
In his speech at the G20 Culture Ministerial, Prime Minister Narendra Modi highlighted several unique initiatives by India during its presidency. He drew our attention to the Prime Ministers’ Museum in New Delhi, “a one-of-a-kind effort to showcase India’s democratic heritage.” Further, on its completion, the ‘Yuge Yugeen Bharat’ National Museum is slated to be the world’s largest museum showcasing India’s history and culture spanning over 5,000 years.
Thus, India has articulated several of its own priorities through concrete actions at the G20. The Global Biofuels Alliance, for instance, has secured involvement of 15 countries and 12 international organisations. It is a multi-stakeholder alliance aimed at facilitating cooperation and increasing the use of sustainable biofuels, including in the transportation sector. It will place emphasis on strengthening markets, facilitating global biofuels trade, development of concrete policy lesson-sharing and provision of technical support for national biofuels programs worldwide.
There have been heightened efforts for handling health related emergencies subsequent to the Covid pandemic and keeping that in mind, India has championed the One Health framework. This looks at using a science and risk-based approach to strengthen existing infectious disease surveillance systems, including at the community-level, and addressing the nexus between climate change and health.
India has also looked at promoting more nutritious crop production for better health. The G20 Millet and Other Ancient Grains International Research Initiative (MAHARISHI) launched in Varanasi, establishes an active collaboration between public and private organizations in the G20 countries, to advance research and awareness of climate resilient grains, especially millets.
As global travel continues to pick up pace and return to pre-pandemic levels, India was at the helm of envisioning a world that places sustainable tourism at its heart. Under the Presidency, the Goa Roadmap has been formulated which looks to providing national governments in the G20 countries and beyond, as well as other tourism players, with voluntary tools and recommendations to leverage the sector’s capability to progress the SDGs. The roadmap also highlights the need to sensitize consumers on responsible consumption.
As Prime Minister Modi eloquently stated, “The poor and the planet, both need to be helped. India is moving ahead on this with not only a positive attitude but also a mindset of driving solutions. If we do not include developing countries, how can we realize Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam? How can there be One Earth, One Family, One Future?”