NEW DELHI: The Group of Twenty (G20) has a critical role to play in finding the right balance between growth and efficiency on one hand, and resilience on the other, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reminded participants at the grouping’s Foreign Ministers meeting.
“The architecture of global governance, created after the Second World War, was to serve two functions – first, to prevent future wars by balancing competing interests. Second, to foster international cooperation on issues of common interests,” he said. According to PM Modi, the experience of the last few years – financial crisis, climate change, pandemic, terrorism, and wars – clearly shows that global governance has failed in both its mandates.
“Many developing countries are struggling with unsustainable debt, while trying to ensure food and energy security for their people. They are also the ones most affected by global warming caused by richer countries,” he stated, adding, “This is why India’s G20 presidency has tried to give a voice to the Global South.”
Stressing on the need for resilience – in our societies, in our economies, in our healthcare systems, and in our infrastructure, PM Modi declared, “We can reach this balance more easily by working together. That is why your meeting is important.”
United Nations WESP
A series of severe and mutually reinforcing shocks — the Covid-19 pandemic, the war in Ukraine and resulting food and energy crises, surging inflation, debt tightening, as well as the climate emergency — battered the world economy in 2022.
Against this backdrop, world output growth is projected to decelerate from an estimated 3.0 per cent in 2022 to 1.9 per cent in 2023, marking one of the lowest growth rates in recent decades, according to the United Nations World Economic Situation and Prospects (WESP) 2023, launched this year.
The report noted that most developing countries witnessed slower job recovery in 2022 and continue to face lower employment. Disproportionate losses in women’s employment during the initial phase of the pandemic have not been fully reversed, with improvements mainly arising from a recovery in informal jobs, it said.
According to the report, slower growth, coupled with elevated inflation and mounting debt vulnerabilities, threatens to further set back hardwon achievements in sustainable development, deepening the already negative effects of the current crises.
Acute food insecurity
The WESP 2023 further said that already in 2022, the number of people facing acute food insecurity had more than doubled compared to 2019, reaching almost 350 million. A prolonged period of economic weakness and slow income growth would not only hamper poverty eradication, but also constrain countries’ ability to invest in the SDGs more broadly, it added.
In his address, Minister of External Affairs S Jaishankar mentioned the challenges of food, fertilisers, and fuel security.
“These are truly makeor-break issues for developing countries. We heard their concerns directly in January this year through the Voice of Global South Summit. Such issues should not be relegated to the periphery of the international discourse. They are in fact, crucial to the global economy and must be treated as such. Indeed, we urge that they be central to any decision making. Along with that, the world must also strive for more reliable and resilient supply chains. Recent experience has underlined the risks of being d e p e n d e n t on limited geographies,” he said.
Fragile supply chains
Reminding that the grouping bears an exceptional responsibility, Jaishankar told the members, “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.”