G20’s New Delhi Declaration is a successful balancing act

The declaration omitted the use of the word aggression in the context of the Ukraine war, which had been a major point of contention. It recognized that the G20 is not the platform to resolve geopolitical and security issues while acknowledging their impact on the global economy

September 11, 2023 by Peoples Dispatch

The 18th Summit of G20 (Group of 20) concluded in New Delhi with the adoption of a joint declaration on Sunday, September 10. The declaration reiterated the G20’s commitment to UN Sustainable Development Goals and raised the need to reform global decision-making with the inclusion of more voices from the Global South.

The two day meeting of world’s top economies concluded with Indian Prime Ninister Narendra Modi handing over the presidency to Brazil which will host the summit next year. 

The New Delhi summit with the theme “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” or “One Earth, One Family, One Future” invited the African Union (AU) as its 21st member with its chairperson Azali Assoumani joining the proceedings. 

The AU represents 55 nations on the continent with a population of around 1.4 billion and a combined nominal GDP of USD 3 trillion. 

The leaders of G20 member countries and heads of international organizations addressed the summit gathering as it closed. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, speaking at the end of the summit, noted that the world is still witnessing poverty, hunger, and concentration of wealth. He also emphasized the need to address the issue of rising inequality in all spheres of life ranging from health, education, food, gender, race, and representation.

Leaders’ Declaration: Global South pushes its agenda 

Host nation India was able to pull together all the participants to agree to the New Delhi declaration, despite earlier speculation that the war in Ukraine may play a spoiler. Russian foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, who attended the summit instead of president Vladimir Putin, praised New Delhi for preventing the West from pushing its agenda and “politicizing” the forum at the cost of the Global South on many issues including the war in Ukraine. The declaration omitted the use of the word aggression in the context of the Ukraine war, which had been a major point of contention.

The declaration reiterated that the G20 is the “premium forum for international economic cooperation” and not “the platform to resolve geopolitical and security issues” while acknowledging the impact of these issues on the economy. The attempt by the West to use the G20 platform to push its agenda on geopolitical issues has often been criticized by some members of the G20.

The declaration also urged the countries to adhere to their commitments under the UN charter and maintain the territorial integrity of all countries. It also acknowledged that the war in Ukraine has had a massive global economic impact particularly for the least developed countries which are still trying to recover from the impact of COVID-19.

It called for the revival of the Black Sea Grain deal and food grain and fertilizer exports from Russia and Ukraine as it is necessary to meet the demands from developing countries.  

Apart from reiterating the long-standing view of the developing countries about immediate reforms in the UN system, the declaration also voiced the need for greater representation of developing and poor countries in global economic decision-making to create a multilateral world reflecting the changing realities.

It noted that a large number of developing countries have been facing debt vulnerabilities which need urgent attention. It proposes immediate reforms in the global financial institutions such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and establishment of an efficient multilateral development bank (MDB) to address issues related to democratic disbursal of loans.  

Noting that global economic growth is slower than expected and remains uneven, it underlines that all structural issues need to be resolved to address them.  

The declaration reiterated the significance of the World Trade Organization (WTO) as a multilateral forum and underscored that a fully and well-functioning dispute settlement system accessible to all members by 2024 must be created under it. 

Sustainable development with multilateralism and reforms in global governance 

Noting that “no country should have to choose between fighting poverty and fighting for our planet” the declaration pressed for greater cooperation to tackle the issues related to climate change and to ensure “sustainable, inclusive and just transitions” in the world.   

The declaration underlined the need to have increased efforts and financing to achieve the Paris Agreement to tackle the rise in global temperature and other climate issues. The G20 agreed to take steps to limit the rise of temperature to 1.5 degree Celsius by 2030 but rejected any push to have a time-bound phasing of fossil fuels as demanded by some countries and the UN earlier.  

The declaration talks about member countries taking efforts to restore at least 30% of the destroyed ecosystem by 2030 and at least 50% reduction of land degradation by 2040.  

It reiterated the G20 commitments to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Noting that only 12% of the SDGS are on track, the group declared that attempts need to be made to achieve time-bound targets and increased financing from all sources for the same. 

It noted the structural constraints which prevented developing countries from catching up with the West and focused on the needs to manage gaps in skills, wages, social security of the workers particularly in the gig economies. 

The declaration underlined the need to increase the role of women in economic decision-making.