The year 2023 witnessed a momentous occasion as India, a land rich in culture and history, took center stage on the global diplomatic platform by hosting its first-ever G20 summit.
This landmark event unfolded at the prestigious Bharat Mandapam International Exhibition-Convention Centre, Pragati Maidan, New Delhi, on the 9th and 10th of September.
The summit brought together leaders from the world’s most influential economies, converging to discuss and collaborate on some of the most pressing global challenges.
Background: A Tale of Diplomatic Exchange
The journey towards the 2023 G20 New Delhi Summit started with a diplomatic twist. Originally, India was slated to host the G20 summit in 2021, with Italy following suit in 2022.
However, a pivotal moment occurred at the 2018 G20 Buenos Aires summit in Argentina when India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi proposed that Italy host the 2021 summit and India host it in 2022, coinciding with India’s 75th year of independence.
Italy graciously accepted the proposal, cementing the strong bilateral ties between the two nations. But the story took another fascinating turn when Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi extended a request.
Indonesia, set to chair both the G20 and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2023, sought to exchange its G20 presidency with India. The rationale behind this exchange was clear – to facilitate Indonesia’s dual leadership role. India accepted the proposal, making way for a significant shift in the G20 landscape.
Presidency and Leadership: Prime Minister Modi’s Guiding Hand
At the helm of the 2023 G20 New Delhi Summit stood India’s dynamic leader, Prime Minister Narendra Modi. India’s presidency officially commenced on December 1, 2022, and the summit served as the crowning moment of India’s year-long leadership within the G20.
In a symbolic transition, Indonesian President Joko Widodo handed over the G20 Presidency gavel to Prime Minister Modi during the closing ceremony of the Bali summit. With this act, India took charge of the G20 process until November 30, 2023, steering the course of global discussions.
Under India’s adept leadership, the G20 outlined six critical agenda priorities for 2023, signaling a resolute commitment to addressing the world’s most pressing challenges:
1. Green Development, Climate Finance & Life: A focus on environmental sustainability, mobilizing climate finance, and fostering sustainable development to safeguard the planet’s future.
2. Accelerated, Inclusive & Resilient Growth: Promoting economic growth that benefits all segments of society, fostering resilience in the face of shocks.
3. Accelerating Progress on SDGs: Advancing the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to create a fairer, more sustainable world for all.
4. Technological Transformation & Digital Public Infrastructure: Embracing cutting-edge technology and building robust digital infrastructure to power the future.
5. Multilateral Institutions for the 21st Century: Reinforcing international institutions to meet the evolving challenges of the modern world.
6. Women-led Development: Empowering women to play a central role in global development, fostering inclusivity and equality.
Prime Minister Modi, in an enlightening interview in August 2023, emphasized the G20’s evolving agenda. He underscored the shift toward a human-centric development approach, aligning with the concerns of the Global South.
This approach places significant emphasis on addressing climate change, managing debt through the G20’s Common Framework for Debt, and formulating a strategy for the global regulation of cryptocurrencies.
Preparations and Security: Safeguarding the Summit
The Indian government spared no effort to ensure the success and security of the G20 summit. A substantial budget of Rs. 990 crore (approximately 120 million USD) was allocated for hosting the event. To maintain security, a massive contingent of 130,000 security personnel, including 80,000 Delhi Police officers, was deployed.
In the lead-up to the summit, reports from prominent news sources like CNN, Reuters, and the Washington Post highlighted the demolition of homeless shelters and slum neighborhoods in New Delhi.
While some speculated a connection to the summit, the Indian government’s Press Information Bureau unequivocally refuted these claims, asserting that the actions were carried out in compliance with orders from the Supreme Court of India, unrelated to the G20 summit.
Restrictions in Delhi: A Facilitated Environment
During the G20 summit, several measures were put in place to ensure its smooth operation. These included the temporary closure of schools, offices, workplaces, marketplaces, restaurants, and non-food shops for three days.
Traffic advisories were issued to regulate road movement, e-commerce deliveries were limited to essential items like medicines and groceries within the jurisdiction of the New Delhi Municipal Council (NMDC), and residents were encouraged to stay within the safety of their homes.
Participating Leaders: A Global Spectrum
The G20 New Delhi Summit saw an assembly of leaders from major economies and international organizations. Notably, the absence of Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping did not diminish the summit’s significance, as they sent their foreign minister Sergei Lavrov and Premier Li Qiang, respectively, to represent their nations.
Leaders from G20 member countries and invited guests included:
● Argentina-Alberto Fernández (President)
● Australia-Anthony Albanese (Prime Minister)
● Brazil-Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva (President)
● Canada-Justin Trudeau (Prime Minister)
● China- Li Qiang (Premier)
● France- Emmanuel Macron (President)
● Germany- Olaf Scholz (Chancellor)
● India (Host)- Narendra Modi (Prime Minister)
● Indonesia- Joko Widodo (President)
● Italy- Giorgia Meloni (Prime Minister)
● Japan- Fumio Kishida (Prime Minister)
● Mexico-Andrés Manuel López Obrador (President)
● South Korea- Yoon Suk-yeol (President)
● Russia- Sergei Lavrov (foreign minister)
● Saudi Arabia- Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud (King)
● South Africa- Cyril Ramaphosa (President)
● Turkey- Recep Tayyip Erdoğan (President)
● United Kingdom- Rishi Sunak (Prime Minister)
● United States-Joe Biden (President)
● European Union-Ursula von der Leyen (President of the European Commission
Invited Guests: Expanding Global Engagements
Beyond the G20 member countries, the summit welcomed invited guests representing various regions and international organizations. This diverse group included:
● Bangladesh – Sheikh Hasina (Prime Minister)
● Comoros – Azali Assoumani (President)
● Egypt – Abdel Fattah el-Sisi (President)
● Mauritius – Pravind Jugnauth (Prime Minister)
● Netherlands – Mark Rutte (Prime Minister)
● Nigeria – Bola Ahmed Tinubu (President)
● Oman – Haitham bin Tariq (Sultan)
● Rwanda – Paul Kagame (President)
● Singapore – Lee Hsien Loong (Prime Minister)
● Spain – Pedro Sánchez (Prime Minister)
● United Arab Emirates – Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (President)
Participating International Organization Guests: Strengthening Collaborative Efforts
International organizations played a pivotal role in the G20 New Delhi Summit. Distinguished guests from these organizations included:
● Asian Development Bank
● Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure
● Financial Stability Board
● International Monetary Fund
● International Labour Organization
● International Solar Alliance
● Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development
● United Nations
● World Bank
● World Health Organization
● World Trade Organization
Outcomes and Initiatives: Paving the Path Forward
The 2023 G20 New Delhi Summit yielded several notable outcomes and initiatives, furthering the cause of global progress:
1. Global Biofuel Alliance (GBA) Launch: The summit witnessed the launch of the Global Biofuel Alliance (GBA), an organization dedicated to promoting sustainable biofuels, setting standards, and certification.
2. African Union Membership: The African Union took a significant step by becoming a permanent member of the G20, signifying a commitment to global inclusivity and collaboration.
3. India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor: A group of nations, including India, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Jordan, Israel, and the European Union, forged an agreement to establish the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor. This ambitious project envisions a rail and shipping route linking India with the Middle East and Europe, fostering economic connectivity and cooperation.
4. New Delhi Leaders Declaration: Leaders from participating countries and organizations jointly adopted the New Delhi Leaders Declaration, a testament to their shared commitments and aspirations on the global stage.
The 2023 G20 New Delhi Summit stands as a testament to the power of international cooperation and collaboration. India’s stewardship, characterized by diplomacy and determination, leaves an indelible mark on the global diplomatic landscape. As the world faces multifaceted challenges, the G20 continues to play a pivotal role in driving international cooperation and charting a course toward a brighter future for all.