© Reuters. FILE PHOTO-A man walks past a model of the G20 logo outside a metro station ahead of the G20 Summit in New Delhi, India, September 4, 2023. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis/File Photo
By Sanjeev Miglani
NEW DELHI (Reuters) – Leaders of the world’s 20 big economies ended a summit in the Indian capital on Sunday overcoming deep divisions over the war in Ukraine to produce a consensus document and move forward on issues such overhauling institutions like the World Bank.
They also formally admitted the African Union to the bloc to make the grouping more representative.
SOFTER LANGUAGE ON UKRAINE WAR
G20 nations agreed that states cannot grab territory by force and highlighted the suffering of the people of Ukraine, but avoided direct criticism of Russia for the war. The declaration was seen as an apparent softening from the position that the G20 took last year when it condemned Russia for the war and demanded that it withdraw from Ukraine.
Diplomats said Russia would never have accepted an outright condemnation and that it was still a successful outcome because everyone including Russia committed themselves to not seizing territory by force.
Host India along with Brazil, Indonesia and South Africa, played a key role in avoiding a fracturing of the G20 over the Ukraine conflict, officials said, reflecting the growing power of the Global South developing nations in the group.
AFRICAN UNION INSIDE THE CLUB
The 55-member African Union was formally made permanent member of the G20, on par with the European Union, in order to make the grouping more representative. Until now only South Africa was a member of the G20. The entry of the AU would provide greater voice to the Global South within the G20 where the G7 countries have long played a dominant role.
The move also came after the BRICs, another group dominated by China and Russia, was expanded to include Saudi Arabia and Iran among other nations which was seen as an attempt by Beijing to make it a possible alternate to the G20.
U.S., SAUDI, INDIA JOIN HANDS FOR TRANSPORT CORRIDOR
Leaders of the United States, India and Saudi Arabia among others announced plans to set up rail and ports links between the Middle East and South Asia and eventually to Europe which U.S. President Joe Biden said was a “real big deal.”
The Biden administration is seeking to counter China’s Belt and Road push on global infrastructure by pitching Washington as an alternative partner and investor for developing countries at the G20 grouping.
But there were no details about financing or a time frame for the project that involved laying down railway lines in the Middle East and then connecting them to India by port.
INCREMENTAL PROGRESS ON CLIMATE CHANGE
The G20 leaders agreed to pursue tripling renewable energy capacity globally by 2030 and accepted the need to phase-down unabated coal power, but stopped short of setting major climate goals.
The group did not provide any plan to amend existing policies and targets in order to achieve the target of ramping of renewables. It also said $4 trillion a year would be needed to pay for a green energy transition but did not lay out any pathway to it.
The deliberations of the G20 were being closely watched ahead of the COP28 U.N climate summit in the United Arab Emirates later this year.
MODI BOOSTS STANDING AS INDIA’S BIG MOMENT ARRIVES
For Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the leadership of the G20 has been a year-long opportunity to showcase India as an influential diplomatic and economic power, and drive investment and trade flows into the world’s most populous country.
It has also provided him a platform to boost his standing at home as he seeks a third term in office in elections in the next several months. Modi’s image has been on G20 billboards across the capital and in the vast and swanky new conference venue. To his supporters the successful outcome of the summit showed India’s big moment had arrived.