Moneycontrol, May 30, 2023
By MIHIR SHEKHAR BHONSALE & JAYESH MATHUR
India is mid-way through its year-long G-20 presidency. Having taken over from the last year’s G-20 chair and fellow middle-income country, Indonesia, this is the first time that developing nations have had the opportunity to steer the agenda and propose solutions to global challenges. The multilateral grouping G-20 comprises the world’s 19 nations alongside European Union and is important as it represents two-thirds of the world’s population, 85 percent of the world’s GDP and 75 percent of international trade.
As the G-20 chair, India can showcase its leadership to the world. It comes at a time when the world is increasingly challenged by the devastating effects of the pandemic; wars and civil strife in Europe and Africa, alarming rise in temperatures, and worldwide debt soaring to new heights. Taking the proverb Well begun is half done, very seriously, Prime Minister Narendra Modi had said while assuming the G-20 presidency last year, “India’s G20 agenda will be inclusive, ambitious, action-oriented, and decisive.” Similarly, India had also endeavoured to utilise its G-20 presidency to give resonance to the voice of the Global South.
Reaching the halfway mark of its presidency offers a chance to take stock of the achievements so far and to discuss what remains to be achieved in the coming days. It is also an opportune time to contemplate coordinated policy responses to major problems facing the world.
Already there exists a dichotomy between the developed nations and emerging markets; the latter find themselves caught between efforts to limit global temperature rises to 1.5°C under the 2015 Paris Agreement and the need to industrialise for realising their socioeconomic goals. The challenges of the two worlds – developing and developed, to meet their respective climate goals, become pronounced for India as the G20 Chair. But it is easier said than done, countries facing climate challenges are also staring at a livelihood crisis.
At the heart of the Global South is climate finance along with technology transfer and capacity building. But, climate finance is another grey area even after an agreement at COP 27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, to establish a Loss and Damage (L&D) Fund to assist countries, particularly those vulnerable to the impact of climate change. As uncertainty looms over the sources to meet such gigantic requirements under this climate fund, the G-20 must consider the utility of innovative finance solutions and prepare a roadmap for their introduction and accelerated implementation.
Another major challenge before India’s G-20 presidency is the rising tensions between the great powers over Ukraine which threaten to undermine the G-20. A global energy and food crisis has compounded the miseries of populations across the globe, with a disproportionate impact on the most vulnerable sections, such as people living in Least Developed Countries (LDCs). At the recently concluded G-7 Summit in the Japanese city of Hiroshima, members issued a statement on Ukraine, hitting Russia with more sanctions, but failed to highlight a path towards dialogue and ending the war. This is a warning sign for the rest of India’s G-20 presidency for this could affect a broader consensus and may eventually compromise the summit declaration.
In a fractured world order, it is essential that alternative groupings do their bit to safeguard multilateralism. Mini-laterals such as India-Brazil-South Africa (IBSA) come to mind when talking about parallel organisations that can salvage multilateralism. The historic opportunity presented to the G-20 troika India-Brazil-South Africa to shape the G20 over the next two and half years could be instrumental in finding a long-lasting solution to pressing problems facing humanity.
In light of the challenges faced by the world in the post-Covid world order, it is imperative that the global community outlines its commitment to a growth story that is ‘responsible’ and ‘sustainable’. Without undermining, the importance of integrating sustainability by leveraging the 3Cs of Community, Culture, and Conservation for responsible consumption, the salience of another C i.e., of consumers cannot be ignored. Despite being part of successive G-20 agendas since the Global Financial Crisis in 2008, consumer protection surprisingly is a missing link in India’s G20 goals.
Bringing consumer protection and welfare to the G20 agenda can help promote sustainable economic growth, ensure fair competition and prevent crises and address global issues. Attaining the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development can also be achieved through prioritising consumers’ interests. As we go past the halfway mark of India’s G20 Presidency, there are immense opportunities to foster global cooperation in the backdrop of a scenario, where getting the act together is imperative for common progress.
Mihir Shekhar Bhonsale is an Assistant Policy Analyst and Jayesh Mathur is a Senior Research Associate at CUTS International, a global public policy think and action tank. Views are personal, and do not represent the stand of this publication.
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MIHIR SHEKHAR BHONSALE is an Assistant Policy Analyst at CUTS International, a global public policy think and action tank. Views are personal, and do not represent the stand of this publication.
JAYESH MATHUR is a Senior Research Associate at CUTS International, a global public policy think and action tank. Views are personal, and do not represent the stand of this publication.
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