An unexpected milestone!
Defying all apprehensions and thwarting all suspicions, India, in the early hours of September 10, managed to forge an unlikely consensus among G20 members to pass the Delhi Declaration. The 83-paragraph document contains eight paragraphs, as against two in the Bali Declaration, on the most persistent contemporary threat to the global economic order — the Russia-Ukraine war. The stark divergence between the Western block comprising the US and the European Union on one hand, and Russia-China on the other, made the prospect of consensus seem highly improbable. This situation was compounded by the fact that Russian President Vladmir Putin and Chinese Premier Xi Jinping were absent from the G20 Summit scene. But the team India, under the agile leadership of G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant, guided by the clear-cut directive from the Indian PM, made it happen. It is learnt that extensive amendments and telephonic deliberations were made through the Saturday night to arrive at the consensus. A more important causal factor, it seems, was the warm cord between the Indian Prime Minister and both Russian President and Western leaders. In absence of such leader-to-leader cordiality, consensus on such a contentious issue would have been impossible. Yet another significant factor was the cohesion among four countries — Indonesia, India, Brazil and South Africa — who are consecutively holding the G20 presidency. Once part of the popular non-aligned movement, the four nations have once again successfully put their weight behind peace in a highly polarised world. But the most important factor, perhaps to which the West conceded, was maintaining the credibility of G20. The passing of the Delhi Declaration bears testimony to the growing relevance of G20 as a grouping. The declaration didn’t specifically mention the name of Russia but rather talked about differing “national positions” of G-20 members on the “war in Ukraine”. It made a general statement asking states to “refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition against the territorial integrity and sovereignty or political independence of any state.” How far the Delhi Declaration will go to resolve the conflict in Ukraine is a different question. The resolution process is a consistent endeavor, and the fact that the Indian presidency of G20 managed to get confronting parties on a common ground is a milestone in itself. Even before the Delhi Declaration was passed, India's commendable initiative to include the African Union in the G20 grouping was met with global appreciation. This move, which is set to bolster inclusivity, signifies a major step forward for the multilateral bloc. The incorporation of the African Union acknowledges the importance of diverse perspectives and opens doors to collaboration that can drive global progress. One of the most pressing issues of our time, climate change, received due emphasis in the Delhi Declaration. The document underscored the necessity of mobilising a staggering USD 5.8 to 5.9 trillion in the pre-2030 period for developing countries. Additionally, it set the ambitious target of USD 4 trillion per year for clean energy technologies by 2030 to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050. While it is true that even the existing norms for climate financing often fall short, the Delhi Declaration pushes the boundaries, at least in theory, and calls for greater responsibility in addressing the climate crisis. A significant breakthrough in the declaration is its recognition of the disproportionate impact of climate change on women. By acknowledging this fact, the G20 nations have taken a progressive step towards gender equality and highlighted the need for gender-sensitive climate policies and adaptation strategies. Beyond climate change and inclusivity, the Delhi Declaration addresses a multitude of critical global issues. It places significant importance on regional connectivity projects, emphasising the importance of building strong partnerships for infrastructure development. Strengthening multilateral development banks, regulating cryptocurrencies, and leveraging digital public infrastructure for financial inclusion are also notable areas of focus. Furthermore, the declaration emphasises the importance of providing debt relief for impoverished nations. This commitment reflects the G20's recognition of the economic challenges faced by many countries, particularly in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. The New Delhi G20 Summit has injected fresh momentum into the grouping, positioning it to tackle global challenges head-on. In a world facing unprecedented complexity and interdependence, the unity and cooperation demonstrated in the Delhi Declaration are encouraging signs. As the G20 nations commit to working together on pressing issues, they send a powerful message of solidarity to the world.