This year’s G20 summit takes place in a very different world from last year. A world fundamentally changed by Russia’s illegal and unprovoked war against Ukraine. With war again in Europe, the world is more dangerous than one year ago. Ensuring security has become all the more challenging.
Russia’s aggression concerns us all, no matter where we live. It is a direct challenge to the rules-based international order that we have worked hard to build, as Europeans, and as the G20. The consequences are cascading far beyond Europe’s borders, from Africa to the Middle East, particularly on food security and energy security. We, as the G20, have an important role in addressing these global challenges and improving people’s lives.
Hunger is increasing
Russia’s attack on Ukraine has caused unspeakable suffering, not only for the people of Ukraine but also for the most vulnerable in developing countries, driving up hunger, poverty and instability. As a result, food prices are soaring, risking food shortages and even global famine. It is not acceptable that agricultural products become weapons of war for geopolitical purposes. That is why we welcome the recent Black Sea Grain Initiative, the agreement between Türkiye, Ukraine and the Russian Federation promoted by the United Nations secretary-general, that is starting to bring relief to the most vulnerable on the edge of famine.
As the G20, we cannot stand idly by as millions of people, many of them children, live on an empty stomach. We must redouble our efforts to build a world with zero hunger, by addressing the global threat of food insecurity caused by Russia’s war and by promoting agricultural development.
The European Union is doing its part, partnering with African countries to unlock the massive potential of food production on the African continent in line with the Global Alliance for Food Security and the EU’s Global Food Security Response, and the Food and Agriculture Resilience Mechanism. The best way to guarantee access to food for everyone is through a multilateral and inclusive approach that engages all international stakeholders – international organisations, financial institutions, the private sector and civil society.
Russia’s invasion has also dramatically affected the price and availability of fertilisers. To address this fertiliser shortage, I believe that we can take inspiration from our recent efforts to boost the local production of Covid-19 vaccines, by assisting developing countries to produce their own sustainable fertilisers, and other inputs, locally.
Harnessing collective power
The current energy crisis is yet another example of the destructive impact of the Kremlin’s war – hurting families, increasing prices for businesses and destabilising global energy markets. As the G20, we have the collective power to work towards ensuring sustainable, secure and affordable energy across the world.
In the EU, we are phasing out our dependence on Russia’s fossil fuels and diversifying our energy sources. We are massively scaling up and speeding up renewable energy to replace fossil fuels and stepping up our energy efficiency. Climate neutrality remains our guiding compass.
Tackling the energy crisis is also a way to tackle climate change and protect our planet. It is a massive opportunity to transform our societies and drive forward our green and just energy transition. No country alone can protect our planet. That is why the EU remains committed to the Paris Agreement and, in particular, to delivering on the Green Climate Fund to help developing countries achieve their climate goals.
Decarbonising global industry will also be a major step in the right direction. We launched our first Just Energy Transition Partnership with South Africa last year. And we are prepared to launch additional partnerships with countries ready to take concrete steps to decarbonise their industry and energy sectors.
In these turbulent times, the EU will remain a fully engaged and reliable global partner. Far from shying away from challenges, we will continue to extend a hand to all who wish to work together, in a spirit of cooperation, to solve problems, build peace and improve the lives of their citizens.
The EU is a trusted, principled and democratic partner. We believe that multilateralism, free trade agreements and regional partnerships engender trust and lead to greater prosperity. Our Global Gateway strategy is a good example. We aim to mobilise up to €300 billion in investments between 2021 and 2027 to build trusted and sustainable connections with the world, anchored in our values and standards. We are partnering with Namibia, for instance, to develop clean hydrogen, while promoting regional electricity interconnections that bolster network stability through the Zambia-Tanzania electricity interconnector. We are also launching initiatives in eight African countries to support youth-led nascent companies, promoting entrepreneurship and innovation across the continent.
Since February, the world has changed dramatically. Today more than ever, we must call on our common humanity and our collective intelligence to inspire global leadership that is anchored in mutual respect and cooperation. But this does not happen spontaneously. It requires hard work. It is not the responsibility of one country or one international organisation. It is all our responsibility.
As the G20, we are uniquely positioned to drive forward progress on the most pressing challenges of our time. I believe we can make a real difference. That is why the EU stands shoulder to shoulder with the Indonesian presidency to build a more stable, cooperative and peaceful world.