Consensus, corridor, expansion: Key outcomes of India G-20 summit

Probably the G-20 summit to date with the most uncertain atmosphere concluded on Sunday amid the continuing woes of the Russia-Ukraine war, shifting regional balances, and the intensifying battle for global supremacy between the US and China. 

“We are One Earth, One Family, and we share One Future,” the final statement of the G-20 reads, despite the tensions brewing under the surface, especially this year due to the ongoing Ukraine war.

Even though the G-20 is, at its core, primarily concerned with economic issues, the political ramifications of its decisions and its influence are hard to ignore.

Here are the key takeaways from the summit that brought together countries that were more than willing to agree to disagree:  

Unexpected consensus

Before the summit came to a conclusion, a declaration was deemed unexpected due to the ongoing Ukraine war, as foreign policy experts thought reaching a consensus would be too tough.

Nevertheless, through the use of careful wording and diplomacy, the summit managed to produce a final declaration the member countries and bodies could bring themselves to adopt, with all references to Russia and Russian aggression omitted.

“We call on all states to uphold the principles of international law including territorial integrity and sovereignty, international humanitarian law, and the multilateral system that safeguards peace and stability,” the declaration said in a veiled reference to Russia’s offensive in Ukraine, all the while avoiding calling it an invasion.

“We ... welcome all relevant and constructive initiatives that support a comprehensive, just, and durable peace in Ukraine. The use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible,” it added.

The declaration drew a sharp response from Kyiv, with the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry saying it was “nothing to be proud of.”

Still, Western countries hailed the outcome, with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz claiming that the declaration demonstrated a “clear position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine” and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak saying it had “very strong language about Russia's illegal war in Ukraine.”

It also called for a revival of the Black Sea grain deal, which was fostered last year through Turkish diplomacy for the safe flow of grain, food, and fertilizer products from Ukraine and Russia, in the hope Moscow would reverse its recent withdrawal from the agreement.

Even though Russia opted not to comment on the final declaration, the foreign minister of the host India, Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, said that China supported the outcome.

“Differing viewpoints and interests were at play, but we were able to find common ground on all issues,” he said.  

‘Counter corridor’

Another crucial outcome of the summit was the announcement of an economic corridor poised to connect India to the Middle East and Europe, which is widely seen as meant to counterbalance China’s trillion-dollar Belt and Road Initiative.

“I’m proud to announce that the US, India, Saudi Arabia, UAE, France, Germany, Italy and EU finalized a historic agreement for a new India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor,” US President Joe Biden said on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“This project is about more than just laying tracks. This is a game-changing regional investment,” he added.

According to Biden, the corridor will “bridge ports across two continents, make it easier to trade, export clean energy, expand access to reliably clean electricity, make it easier to lay cables that will connect communities that secure a stable internet and will also unlock sustainable and inclusive economic growth.”

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi also hailed the plan.

“Today, as we embark upon such a big connectivity initiative, we are sowing the seeds for future generations to dream bigger,” he said.

The EU, India, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, US and other G20 partners signed the memorandum of understanding on the India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor, or IMEC for short.  

Africa’s entry

The African Union (AU), which has 55 members, was formally announced as a permanent member of the G-20.

Until now, the only African representative in the group was South Africa.

Through the AU’s membership, underdeveloped countries on the continent will be better represented on a global scale, while the G-20 moved to expand its reach beyond only the totality of the wealthiest 19 countries plus the EU, which already is largely comprised of developed nations.

Moussa Faki Mahamat, the African bloc’s current head, said G-20 membership was something the AU had “long been advocating.”

This will provide “a propitious framework for amplifying advocacy in favor of the Continent and its effective contribution to meeting global challenges,” he said on X.  

Little progress on climate change targets

Even though G-20 leaders agreed on the need to pursue cleaner energy production methods and the importance of renewables, progress on the issue was relatively miniscule.

They agreed to try to triple renewable energy capacity on a global scale by 2030 and to cut down on coal-powered energy sources, but failed to set any concrete goals on climate.

While they failed to lay out a solid roadmap to a globe powered by fully green energy, the G-20 countries did reach consensus on the amounts needed for a switch to clean energy: “an annual investment of over $4 trillion, with a high share of renewable energy in the primary energy mix,” according to the final document.

“We commit to accelerating clean, sustainable, just, affordable and inclusive energy transitions following various pathways, as a means of enabling strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth and achieve our climate objectives,” read the statement.

The G-20 leaders also vowed to “work towards facilitating access to low-cost financing for developing countries, for existing as well as new and emerging clean and sustainable energy technologies and for supporting the energy transitions.”​​​​​​​

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