At a time when geopolitical tensions over the Russia-Ukraine war have created deep divisions globally, the G20 Summit in Delhi has been historic in bringing the world’s most powerful nations together not just on the question of the conflict but evolving a new language and paradigm that set forth the concerns of the Global South. The New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration adopted at the Summit charts a fresh course in reforming the world economic order to prioritise the concerns of the poor and developing countries.
Whether it is the overhaul of institutions such as the World Bank or debt resolution for Zambia, Ghana, Ethiopia and Sri Lanka and more financing to help vulnerable nations to deal with the cost of climate change, the Summit’s focus on issues beyond the preoccupations of the Western Bloc was unmistakable. To this end, India’s enduring legacy will be the inclusion in G20 of the 55-member African Union. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had taken a personal interest in facilitating this. The atmospherics at Bharat Mandapam, the venue of the Summit, with the PM announcing the invitation during his opening remarks and hugging Azali Assoumani, the chairman of the AU and President of Comoros, reflect the democratisation of the economic forum which had thus far included only one member of the AU, South Africa, in its fold.
The two other significant and tangible takeaways from the Summit are the launch of the India-Middle East-Europe connectivity corridor and much-awaited Global Biofuel Alliance (GBA). The former is envisaged as the biggest endeavour thus far to facilitate trade across India, Middle East and Europe through a network of railway tracks and shipping routes. It opens up an alternative route to the Suez Canal and could provide huge strategic and economic benefits to partner countries. Crucially, it is being pushed as a counterweight to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. The GBA, a grouping of more than 30 countries and international institutions, supports worldwide development and deployment of sustainable biofuels by offering capacity-building exercises across the value chain. It will assist industries, countries, ecosystem players and key stakeholders in mapping demand and supply, connecting technology providers to end users.
Indian negotiators ensured that the Delhi Declaration steered clear of any superpower skirmishes. As the Indian Sherpa Amitabh Kant summarised, with 83 paras and absolutely no dissent, no footnotes, no chair summaries, the New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration symbolises unparalleled global consensus. Especially with regard to the Ukraine conflict, the negotiators got Russia and China to agree to the references to the war in general while simultaneously convincing the Western nations to allow no direct reference to Russia. Credit must go to PM Modi and his team of negotiators for not allowing geopolitical divisions to derail a constructive agenda.