NEW DELHI: International institutions of the past are failing to keep pace with the world today. Past few years, especially Covid-19 and Russia-Ukraine war have exposed the limitations of such institutions. “Multilateral institutions were not built for multi-polarity,” said Ebtesam Al-Ketbi, President and Founder, Emirates Policy Center, UAE.
She was speaking at the Think20 (T20) inception conference, which was held here on January 13-14. The theme of the conference was ‘Reformed Multilateralism: A Global Imperative’, which explored the limitations of multilateralism in a world which is becoming increasingly multipolar. T20 is an official engagement group of G20. It serves as an “ideas bank” for G20 by bringing together think tanks and experts to discuss key policy issues.
Annika Mildner, Executive Director, Aspen Institute, Germany, made a passionate plea to fellow participants to work in the direction of preserving multilateral institutions. “We need to make G20 more effective, particularly the engagement groups, to tackle global challenges like climate change, pandemics, food security, and more,” she said.
As the present crisis afflicting the world economy has laid bare the macroeconomic vulnerabilities of global financial system, the second plenary session had the theme ‘Global Financial Order and Macroeconomic Stability’. During the session, economist Bambang PS Brodjonegoro from University of Indonesia emphasised on the need to go deeper into the financial sector and figure out “how to deal with the supply side disruptions after the pandemic.”
Niti Aayog Vice-Chairman Suman Bery sought an active role for T20 and emphasised on the need to factor in the uncertainties in the macroeconomic environment. “India is well-placed to clarify what the new growth model should be. This T20 is an opportunity and an obligation to present to global leaders the aspects of the new growth model,” he said.
Jayant Sinha, MP and head of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Finance, brought the focus back on the much needed sustainability and the need for proactive climate action. “The world is jaded; we are living in an age of crises – global crisis, energy crisis, and food crisis. Amidst all these crises, we must take out the time to focus on climate action,” he said.
During the third plenary session, taking forward Sinha’s point, John J Kirton, Director and Founder, G20 Research Group, University of Toronto, Canada, spoke how the pandemic had derailed progress on Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) and called for need to pursue sustainability during India’s presidency.
Criticising the role of multilateral institutions during and after the pandemic, he said, “UN has failed to get the SDGs’ progress back on track”. He added, “Among the alternative global governance institutions, only G20 has the power to do the job.”
The delegates were reassured by India’s Sous-Sherpa Abhay Thakur, who highlighted India’s G20 presidency as an opportunity to make the grouping more inclusive and sustainable. “As Prime Minister Narendra Modi said at the Bali Summit, we would like our G20 presidency to be inclusive, ambitious, actionoriented, and decisive,” he said