India's Visionary Leadership: Reflections on a Year as G20 Chair

World | November 30, 2023, Thursday // 18:15|  views

"Towards a Brighter Tomorrow: India's Chairmanship of the G20 and the Dawn of a New Multilateralism"

Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi

Today marks 365 days since India assumed the chairmanship of the G20. It is a time to reflect, re-engage and rejuvenate the spirit of 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam', 'One Earth, One Family, One Future'.

When we assumed this responsibility last year, the global landscape faced multifaceted challenges: recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, looming climate threats, financial instability and debt repayment difficulties in developing nations, all against the backdrop of declining multilateralism. Amid conflict and competition, development cooperation has suffered, hindering progress.

By assuming the G-20 chairmanship, India sought to offer the world an alternative to the status quo, a shift from GDP-centric to human-centric progress. India aimed to remind the world what unites us, not what divides us. Finally, the global conversation had to evolve - the interests of the few had to give way to the aspirations of the many. This requires a fundamental reform of multilateralism as we know it.

Inclusive, ambitious, action-oriented and decisive - these four words defined our approach during the G20 presidency, and the New Delhi Leaders' Declaration (NDLS), unanimously adopted by all members of the G-20, is a testament to our commitment to fulfilling these principles.

Inclusion was at the heart of our presidency. The inclusion of the African Union (AU) as a permanent member of the G20 integrates 55 African nations into the forum, expanding it to cover 80% of the world's population. This proactive stance has fostered a more comprehensive dialogue on global challenges and opportunities.

The first-ever Voice of the Global South Summit, convened by India in two editions, heralded a new dawn of multilateralism. India integrated the concerns of the Global South into the international discourse and ushered in an era in which developing countries took their rightful place in shaping the global narrative.

Inclusivity has also flowed into India's domestic approach to the G20, making it a people's presidency befitting the world's largest democracy. Through the 'Jan Bhagidari' (people's participation) events, the G20 has reached out to 1.4 billion citizens, including all states and union territories as partners. On the essentials, India has ensured that international attention is focused on broader development goals, in line with the G20 mandate.

At the critical midpoint of the 2030 Agenda, India presented the G20 Action Plan 2023 to accelerate progress on the Sustainable Development Goals, adopting a cross-sectoral, action-oriented approach to interrelated issues, including health, education, gender equality and environmental sustainability.

A key area driving this progress is robust Digital Public Infrastructure. Here, India was resolute in its recommendations, having already witnessed first-hand the revolutionary impact of digital innovations like Aadhaar, UPI and Digilocker. Through the G20, we successfully completed the digital public infrastructure repository, a significant step in global technology cooperation. This repository, comprising over 50 Digital Public Infrastructures from 16 countries, will help the Global South build, adopt and scale DPI to unlock the power of inclusive growth.

For our "One Earth", we have introduced ambitious and inclusive goals to create urgent, lasting and equitable change. The declaration, in its Green Development Pact part, addresses the challenges of choosing between fighting hunger and protecting the planet, drawing a comprehensive map where employment and ecosystems are complementary, consumption is climate-friendly and production is planet-friendly. In addition, the G20 Declaration calls for an ambitious tripling of global renewable energy capacity by 2030. Coupled with the establishment of the Global Biofuels Alliance and the Concerted Green Hydrogen Effort, the G20's ambitions to build a cleaner and -green world are undeniable. This has always been India's ethos and through Living for Sustainable Development (LiFE), the world can benefit from our centuries-old sustainable traditions.

The Declaration also underscores our commitment to climate justice and equity, calling for significant financial and technological support from the Global North.

For the first time, there was recognition of the necessary quantum leap in the amount of development funding, going from billions to trillions of dollars. The G20 recognized that developing countries need $5.9 trillion to meet their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) by 2030.

Given the vast resources required, the G20 emphasized the importance of better, bigger and more effective multilateral development banks. Simultaneously, India is taking a leading role in UN reforms, particularly in restructuring key bodies such as the UN Security Council, which will ensure a fairer global order.

Gender equality took center stage in the Declaration, which culminated in the formation of a dedicated "Working Group on the Empowerment of Women in the Next Year". India's Women's Reservation Bill, 2023, which reserves one-third of the seats in India's Parliament and state legislatures for women, epitomizes our commitment to women-led development.

The New Delhi Declaration embodies a renewed spirit of cooperation on these key priorities, focusing on policy coherence, credible trade and ambitious climate action. It is a matter of pride that during our presidency the G20 achieved 87 outcomes and 118 adopted documents, a significant increase compared to the past.

During our presidency of the G20, India has led the discussions on geopolitical issues and their impact on economic growth and development. Terrorism and the senseless killing of civilians is unacceptable and we must deal with it with a zero tolerance policy. We must embody humanitarianism in the face of hostility and reiterate that this is not an era of war.

I am glad that during our presidency, India has achieved the extraordinary: it has revitalized multilateralism, strengthened the voice of the Global South, championed development and fought for the empowerment of women everywhere.

As we hand over the presidency of the G20 to Brazil, we do so with the conviction that our collective steps for people, planet, peace and prosperity will reverberate for years to come.

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Tags: India, G20, development


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