Planting the G20 tree – green, sustainable, future-looking

In his remarks at the G20 tree plantation ceremony in New Delhi on October 23, India’s External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar lauded India’s G20 presidency for bridging divides and delivering on key issues such as green growth, sustainable development and Digital Public Infrastructure.

By Shweta Aggarwal and Poojita Chand 

With weeks to go before India hands over the G20 baton to Brazil, External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar has lauded the multilateral grouping’s capacity to bridge divides, as seen at the New Delhi summit, and underlined that green development, sustainability and focus on Global South were key achievements of the Indian presidency of G20.

“About 3 weeks ago, I was in New York for the United Nations General Assembly. I must share with you that the G20 was very much the subject of conversation. A lot of people were still a little surprised that the G20 could bridge what were strong positions and deep divides,” Dr Jaishankar said in his remarks at the G20 tree plantation ceremony at the iconic Nehru Park in the Indian capital.

Listing out key achievements of India’s G20 presidency which will last till November 30, 2023, Dr Jaishankar identified five key takeaways. “As we bask in the afterglow of the Summit (G20), I am often asked – tell me what did you really get done?”

“When I look at what we got done, to me the four-five key takeaways were the action plan for the SDG which directly fed into the SDG Summit which happened after the G20 – the Green Development Pact, the message of women-led development, the support for digital public infrastructure, the LiFE Mission,” said the minister.

G20 of the Future

“At the end of it all, there was a very strong sustainability, green, Global South image that came out of the G20. We would like it certainly to be remembered as a green G20, as a sustainable G20, in many ways, as a G20 of the future and a G20, which honestly would not have delivered the outcomes, had it not been for the entirety of the G20 membership,” said Dr Jaishankar.

Alluding to the historic induction of the African Union as a permanent member of the G20 at the September 9-10 New Delhi summit, Dr Jaishankar stressed that “G20 actually delivered very substantively on what were the most pressing issues of the day.”

“Many other countries also took particular satisfaction at the permanent membership of the African Union at the G20. But overall there was a sense in global diplomacy that this G20 actually delivered very substantively on what were the most pressing issues of the day. It turned out far better than most people expected,” he added.

The minister highlighted the two reasons “to be satisfied with India’s G20 presidency.” “We have two reasons today to be satisfied. One, that in the totality of global diplomacy at a very difficult time in international politics, actually, G20 was a big plus on the positive side of the global ledger.” “And the second, that it has made a country, a society which is today the fifth largest economy, which in many ways is globalizing at a very rapid rate, it has made this society far more connected with the rest of the world.”

In a first-ever initiative, India will host a virtual G20 summit on November 17 to review and fast-track implementation of key outcomes of the in-person New Delhi summit on September 9-10.

Commenting on the New Delhi summit, Manish Chand, CEO, Centre for Global India Insights, a think tank focused on global affairs, said that under India’s leadership, the G20 has become an instrument for remoulding the world to reflect interests of the Global South. Dr Jaishankar is right in highlighting the G20’s capacity as a bridge-builder in a conflicted world and in promoting an inclusive green world, said Mr Chand.


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