One Earth, One Family, One Future: the motto chosen by India’s presidency for its G20 encapsulates a desire for togetherness and a sense of purpose that we should all aspire to.
Yet challenges abound. As I am writing these lines, the Earth has experienced the hottest July on record, food prices are on the rise again following the collapse of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, and violence and instability continue to afflict countries across all continents.
Chief among those challenges is Russia’s continued aggression against Ukraine. Last year, despite our differences, the G20 overwhelmingly condemned Vladimir Putin’s acts, while recalling our collective adherence to the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and international law. Unfortunately for Ukraine and its people, the situation on the ground has not changed much since we last met in Bali: the war rages on and Russia continues to illegally occupy parts of Ukraine and to commit atrocities on a regular basis.
For as long as Russia continues to violate the most basic tenets of international cooperation, the G20 must continue to reiterate the need to uphold those principles and seek to advance a just and lasting peace, based upon the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Ukraine.
Still, we cannot afford to be paralysed by the war. We must find better ways to tackle the debt sustainability crisis that afflicts numerous vulnerable developing countries, we must increase the lending power of multilateral development banks to accelerate investments in green and sustainable growth, and we must ensure that the multilateral system truly serves the needs and responds to the realities of the 21st century.
Answering tough questions
The G20 remains the premier forum to find answers to the toughest global governance questions. We have the collective responsibility to act upon the roadmap for reinforced multilateral action put forward by the United Nations ahead of the SDG Summit this September, the Summit of the Future in 2024 and the fourth international conference on financing for development in 2025. The New Delhi Summit offers us a unique opportunity to demonstrate that we can collectively rise to the challenge.
Our first goal should be ensuring that both current and future generations inhabit one liveable planet Earth. This will require accelerated action to tackle runaway global warming and to live up to the commitments to preserve biodiversity that we enshrined last year in the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework.
The G20, which is responsible for over 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions, must lead by example with ambitious collective commitments: from tripling our collective renewable power generation capacity by 2030 to drastically accelerating an orderly, fair and rapid global shift away from fossil fuels, with global emissions peaking in 2025 and falling substantially by 2030.
At the same time, we need to keep pushing for further rapid multilateral action to address the multifaceted threats faced by our ecosystems: from ending plastic pollution to mitigating the effects of drought and combatting desertification, from reducing land degradation by 50% by 2040 to protecting 30% of the planet for nature by 2030.
We cannot trade away short-term stability for long-term survivability. The world expects bold decisions. Anything else will not be enough for the planet, for our children and our grandchildren.
Our second goal must be addressing these challenges as one reconciled family that is able to heal wounds and divisions. Magnifying the divisions between advanced and emerging economies, playing G7+ against BRICS+, will not lead to the unity of purpose that we need. At the G20, each member is unique, but we should all come together when it comes to shouldering our common responsibilities in ensuring effective multilateral action and helping address the needs of the truly vulnerable countries and communities.
Business as usual will not suffice to secure the required quantum leap from billions to trillions in the scale of global development and climate finance. Boosting the lending power of multilateral development banks is an important first step, but it is not enough. We need an expanded donor base and new innovative sources of funding, including global taxes and levies in line with the polluter pays principle. We need to move from a narrative rooted in the world of the early 1990s to one that portrays today’s economic and developmental realities.
We cannot shy away from the responsibilities that come with power. Anything else will mean leaving behind those in real need.
Should we be able to achieve these two goals, I can foresee a better future ahead of us. A future in which we can come together to collectively address the challenges that go hand in hand with the promise of artificial intelligence. A future in which we replicate and routinely go beyond the success of the G20/Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development process to reform the international tax system for multinational companies. A future in which we draw up mechanisms to expeditiously address debt sustainability issues afflicting all kinds of vulnerable countries, regardless of income level.
In short, a future in which G20 members come together to reinvigorate multilateralism, to ensure that crises such as the ones that we witnessed in recent years – from global pandemics to food insecurity, from sovereign debt distress to gaps in financing for development – become a thing of the past.
Let us rise to the challenge.