As India takes up the mantle of the G20, it promises to address the multiple, interconnected hurdles the world must overcome – and it is taking a uniquely inclusive approach
With the theme of One Earth, One Family, One Future, India has attempted to reduce frictions, enhance communication and ensure an inclusive global order. As Prime Minister Narendra Modi said, India’s G20 presidency would focus on ‘Hope, Heal and Harmony’. With continuing polarisation, escalated contestations and fragmented multilateralism, the global challenges have been insurmountable. At the 2022 Bali Summit, Prime Minister Modi brought the global community together when he said “This is not an era of wars”. He underlined a strong message in favour of peace and harmony and stressed measures to heal the wounds from those violent conflicts. Without security and stability, he said, “future generations will not be able to take advantage of economic growth or technological innovation”.
Building on Indonesia’s 2022 presidency, India identified six broad priorities: accelerated, inclusive, sustainable and resilient growth; accelerating progress on the Sustainable Development Goals; a green development pact; women-led development; 21st-century multilateral institutions; and digital public infrastructure. Many working and engagement groups have identified specific modalities for moving forward. Some of the important initiatives include the G20 High Level Principles on Lifestyle for Sustainable Development; the High Level Principles for a Sustainable and Climate Resilient Blue Economy; One Health–based health emergencies prevention, preparedness and response; and a Global Medical Countermeasures Coordination Platform – with more to be announced at the New Delhi Summit.
The People’s Presidency
India’s G20 presidency will be remembered as the People’s Presidency. It is inspiring to see how India could engage with millions of people in only eight months. With almost 185 official meetings and 230 meetings in 57 destinations across the country, it has set a record. India has also added a working group on disaster risk resilience and the Start-up 20 engagement group.
Accordingly, sustainability-related efforts were also taken to the people. Prime Minister Modi called for all citizens of the world to imbibe the spirit of individuals’ contributions through the sustainable and healthy Lifestyle for Environment initiative to ensure a safe future for the planet. Given LiFE’s transformative potential for global wellness, India has placed a sustainable lifestyle on the G20 agenda. The G20 accounts for 80% of global gross domestic product as well as 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions. In India’s view the G20 can make LiFE a global movement for a green lifestyle. Mission LiFE will help the world fight climate change and achieve the SDG targets and effectively implement the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development set by the United Nations. The motto of India’s G20 presidency encapsulates the essence of a pro-LiFE planet and people. Mission LiFE is indeed a clarion call to take action for citizens and governments to save the planet. The presidency has also emphasised reforming multilateral institutions and promoting a people-centric growth model.
Forging constructive and consensus-based solutions to challenges such as reviving global growth, strengthening climate action, building a robust global health architecture, and promoting food and nutrition security have also been important priorities as the Covid-19 pandemic pushed millions of people into poverty. With its core strength in information technology, India has stressed making the digital architecture inclusive so it can catalyse a socio-economic transformation. Thus, promoting inclusive growth and financial inclusion are also key priorities.
Another unique feature of India’s G20 presidency is connecting with youth by fostering dialogues on various international issues. India launched the G20 University Connect programme, with 76 lectures at 76 universities across the country to familiarise students and researchers with the major areas and priorities of what India seeks to achieve during its G20 presidency. This initiative received an overwhelming response from faculty and students, and led to involving youth, especially students, in the G20 process as the brand ambassadors for India’s G20.
Tackling multiple challenges
Thus, as part of its G20 presidency, India is committed to addressing the multiple social, political and economic challenges facing the world. The thrust is to ensure that no one is left behind while the world works relentlessly to ensure inclusive development and happiness for all. India has always been known as the Voice of Global South, including African countries. At the virtual Global South Summit hosted by India in January 2023, Prime Minister Modi announced the establishment of the Global South Centre of Excellence. Its work programme includes an active mechanism to focus on common development challenges that developing countries face to evolve simple and affordable solutions for accelerated and inclusive socio-economic development. The Global South Centre of Excellence is yet another major contribution emerging from India’s G20 presidency.