NEW DELHI: Russia’s war on Ukraine dominated the talks among the G20 Foreign Ministers held in New Delhi in the beginning of this month as angry exchanges marked the proceedings. In the end, the differences could not be reconciled.
“We tried,” said Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar, “but the gap between the countries was too much.” In his video address, Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged participants to acknowledge that multilateralism is in crisis today. “You are meeting at a time of deep global divisions,” he reminded them.
In a press conference later, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken agreed with the views of the Prime Minister. The G20 includes the world’s 19 wealthiest nations and the European Union. It comprises two-thirds of the world’s population and accounts for 85 per cent of global economic output. The event also hosted the Chinese Foreign Minister Qin Gang, Russia’s Sergei Lavrov, British Foreign Secretary James Cleverly and Australia’s Penny Wong, among others.
In fact, it was the first face-to-face meeting of the US and Russian diplomats since the war broke out. Some reports suggested that Blinken met Lavrov briefly on the sidelines of the meeting. India had wanted to focus on issues affecting developing nations. In his opening remarks, External Affairs Minister Jaishankar tried to remind the participants that the grouping bears an exceptional responsibility.
“We first came together in the midst of a global crisis and are today, once again, actually confronting multiple ones. These include the impact of the Covid pandemic, concerns of fragile supply chains, the knock-on effects of ongoing conflicts, anxiety of debt crises and the disruption of climate events. In considering these issues, we may not all always be of one mind. In fact, there are some matters of sharp differences of opinions and views.
Yet, we must find common ground and provide direction, because that is what the world expects of us,” he told members. “The future of multilateralism depends very much on our ability to strengthen it in a changing world,” Jaishankar said, taking forward the Prime Minister’s thoughts.
Food, energy security
“Food and energy security are immediate anxieties, magnified by recent events. But they do have long-term repercussions and solutions. And development cooperation is part of that larger solution that we are deliberating upon today,” he stated.
Despite having heard sentiments for reform being expressed at the highest level since 2005, he drew their attention that these are not materialised.
“The reasons are no secret either. The longer we put it off, the more the credibility of multilateralism stands eroded. Global decision-making must be democratised if it has to have a future,” the minister added.
New report by FAO
The world’s ability to nourish its burgeoning population is under threat and without broader socioeconomic and environmental change, sustainable agrifood systems will be impossible to achieve, according to a new report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO).
The report urges decision makers to think beyond short term needs, warning that a lack of vision, piecemeal approaches and ‘quick fixes’ will come at a high cost for everyone.
“The world looks upon the G20 to ease the challenges of growth; development; economic resilience; disaster resilience; financial stability; trans-national crime; corruption; terrorism; and food and energy security,” PM Modi told participants