Multilateralism is back: How India shaped the G20 outcomes

ROME: It’s a captivating photograph that tells its own story about multilateralism and cross-cultural connections. Amid high-wire diplomacy in Rome, the last day of the G20 summit saw world leaders posing for a photo-op against the backdrop of the iconic Trevi Fountain in Rome.  Their smiling faces and upward gaze suggested a sense of satisfaction at key outcomes that emerged after they and G20 sherpas spent many sleepless nights in getting right the text of the Rome Declaration.  The major outcomes, after a thousand visions and revisions, included the formal adoption of a global minimum tax aimed at stopping MNC behemoths from hiding profits in tax havens, and a collective commitment to provide more vaccines to the poor and developing nations.

The Rome Declaration encapsulated the essence of the 2021 edition of the G20 summit. “Underlining the crucial role of multilateralism in finding shared, effective solutions, we have agreed to further strengthen our common response to the pandemic, and pave the way for a global recovery, with particular regard to the needs of the most vulnerable,” said the Declaration.

Addressing the opening of the meeting at a majestic steel and glass convention centre in Eternal City, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi underscoted that governments had to work together to face up to the formidable challenges facing their peoples. “From the pandemic, to climate change, to fair and equitable taxation, going it alone is simply not an option,” Mr Draghi said.

Advantage India

For India, the Rome summit was a resonant reaffirmation of its rising global stature and its increasing indispensability to resolving a wide array of cross-cutting issues. The big message emerging from the summit is reaffirmation of faith in effective and constructive multilateralism to resolve burning global issues – a cross-cutting theme of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s interventions at the G20 summit as well as in bilateral meetings with the leaders of EU, Germany, France, Spain and Singapore.  “During my remarks, I highlighted aspects relating to India’s contributions in the global fight against COVID-19, the vision of ‘One Earth, One Health’, furthering innovation in healthcare, need for resilient global supply chains and leveraging technology for human empowerment,”’ India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi said in a statement. Capturing the new spirit of proactive multilateralism, he said: “It is important nations work together to further global good.”

In a summing–up media briefing, India’s Sherpa and Commerce and Industry Minister highlighted India’s key contributions to shaping the agenda of the G20 summit in Rome. “The G20 has sent a strong message of recovery from the pandemic, recovery in terms of the economy and across key sectors like health, employment, education and tourism,” he said. “This communiqué sent a strong message under the health section where we have agreed that Covid-19 vaccination is global public good,” he said. The G20 summit reflected a consensus that the recognition of vaccines that are deemed to be safe and efficacious by the WHO has to be mutually acceptable and subject to privacy and national law, said Mr Goyal.

The G20 leaders endorsed to extend debt relief for impoverished countries and pledged to vaccinate 70% of the world’s population against COVID-19 by mid-2022. In this regard, PM Modi’s promise to manufacture and provide 5 billon vaccines by end of 2022 will be watched closely.

The focus on creating a pandemic-free world was reflected in another revealing photograph: doctors in white coats and Red Cross workers joined the leaders for their traditional “family” photograph — a homage to the sacrifices and efforts of medical professionals across geographies.

“Addressing COVID-19, especially through proper campaign of vaccination and availability of vaccines, is an absolute necessity. The G20 Rome Declaration reflected this focus on intensifying the the vaccination campaign,” Giulio Terzi, a former foreign minister of Italy, told India Writes Network in an interview.

From Rome to Glasgow

As the curtains came down on the two-day G20 summit, the diplomatic action shifts to Glasgow, which is hosting the crucial global climate summit that is expected to raise the bar for curbing greenhouse gas emissions and greening of the planet. In Rome, Prime Minister Modi engaged in deft diplomacy to advance India’s position on climate change. “India and other countries have pushed for safeguarding the interests of the developed world. We were also joined by the developed countries to increase the ambition from the current level of commitments in terms of green finance and technology,” said India’s G20 sherpa. In a way, the Rome Declaration has indicated that the developed world has acknowledged that they have not done enough to meet their commitments under the Paris accord,” said Mr Goyal. “We have really got together the text which confirms that they will have to be forthcoming in providing finance, technology and the enablers to make the transition to a clean energy world in the future.”

In a boost to India’s relentless crusade for a green world, the G20, for the first time, has identified sustainable and responsible consumption and production along with finance and technology as critical enablers for achieving climate goals. PM Modi’s mantra of sustainable lifestyle and sustainable development found wide resonance among world leaders.

As Prime Minister Modi heads to Glasgow, he is set to radiate the energy and charisma of a global statesman who believes that a more radiant future for humanity is not only possible, but achievable through collective international action. And this time round, the energy he radiates will be low-carbon and green.

(Manish Chand is Founder-CEO of India Writes Network, India and the World magazine and Centre for Global India Insights, a think tank focused on global affairs.)


Author Profile

Manish Chand
Manish Chand
Manish Chand is Founder-CEO and Editor-in-Chief of India Writes Network ( and India and World, a pioneering magazine focused on international affairs. He is CEO/Director of TGII Media Private Limited, an India-based media, publishing, research and consultancy company.