NEXT week, beginning September 3, Sherpas of the G20 will meet in Gurugram to thrash out the draft final declaration and the key areas of cooperation and consensus that must drive the Grouping going forward. Chairing the meeting will be India’s Sherpa, Amitabh Kant. For the record, the first meeting of the Sherpas— key interlocutors who represent their country’s chief executive and their perspective on a variety of issues— was held in Udaipur last January. The Sherpas’ meeting in Nuh will be their fourth since India assumed the G20 presidency last December. Apart from Udaipur, two other meetings were held in Kumarakom and Hampi.
So why is the Sherpa so critical to the G20? Essentially for conflict resolution and consensus building. The key responsibility is getting what is euphemistically called the Leaders’ “Declaration” or “Communique” finalised. All the year’s work is distilled in that one document that is crafted together by the Sherpas and their respective teams just before the G20 gets underway.
For the record, according to the MEA, ‘’during our ongoing G20 presidency, over 200 meetings across the country, in 13 Sherpa Track Working Groups, 08 Finance Track workstreams, 11 Engagement Groups and 05 Initiatives, are taking place.’’ It is something that Amitabh Kant drove home in an interview with The India Express: It’s about hosting 215 meetings throughout the year in 56 cities. Therefore, you have to organise everything throughout the year. Both cooperative federalism and competitive federalism play a key role.’’
On almost 90 per cent of the issues, there is broad consensus. Climate change, green energy, sustainability, a more equitable global financial order, and championing the South are elements that are now top of the list of any declaration. But global politics does come into play. How it plays out in New Delhi we shall know by September 10.
Nonetheless, for those who believe these are great jamborees, nothing can be farther from the truth. Serious work is done by the various groupings like the one last week of the B20—the trade and industry grouping under the G20. The real essence of these global platforms comes sharply into focus with the recommendations that these groupings make to the Sherpas and onwards to the G20 for adoption.
The theme of the India G20-B20 was ‘R.A.I.S.E – Responsible, Accelerated, Innovative, Sustainable and Equitable Businesses’. The B20 has made 54 recommendations and 172 policy actions to the G20. Some of these include steps to accelerate services trade and enhance technology in trade, speedier digital public infrastructure commissioning to boost financial inclusion and healthcare access; harmonising cybersecurity standards and data privacy regulations, and promoting cross-border R&D and technology transfer of best practices through a virtual digital lab and library.
The B20 task force has made four key recommendations – Global sustainable development goals (SDG) acceleration fund for the financing of Global Public Goods (focus on fungible SDG projects in climate, energy, biodiversity, and ocean pollution), capacity building of domestic financial sectors for SDGs financing, improving MSME access to finance and reducing cost of capital to foster inclusive growth, and financing sustainable and resilient infrastructure with enhanced focus on healthcare, energy, and digital infrastructure.
B20 Chair and Tata Sons chairman Natarajan Chandrasekaran told the delegates in his address,’’ During the last 7 months, we have engaged with over 1,500 global business executives and experts across 55 countries, over more than 100 events in India and abroad. The world is currently navigating through three important fundamental transitions. The first is the digital and artificial intelligence transition; the second is the energy transition and the third is a global value supply chain transition. India is extremely well positioned to lead in all the three.”
It is inevitable when there are so many contending elements competing for the leadership’s attention, there will be some hits and many misses. Amitabh Kant said the New Delhi B20 meeting and their task force work and the events in the past seven months is reflected in the fact that it has been the best organised B20 event ever. “We will examine the recommendations. Very positive and constructive constructions have come from this meeting,” he said When the final declaration is adopted, we shall know how much of the sweat has translated into action.