The upcoming G20 Summit in Delhi is being seen as a defining event in diminishing the dichotomy between the developed Global North and the developing Global South. The international community is observing India’s diplomatic prowess following her G20 presidency.
Illustration by Geostrata
This comes at a time when the Global North, especially the Western nations, are facing severe energy and cost-of-living crises following the Ukrainian crisis and fading geopolitical clout. The Global South is also riddled with growing regional instability, socioeconomic inequality, food insecurity, and climate risk, to name a few. All eyes are on Bharat now because the proceedings of this year’s G20 summit can pivot the future of this body.
HOW INDIA FARED AS G20 PRESIDENT
India tried to utilise its presidency optimally. After all, this is India’s opportunity to make her name from such a vantage point. The Global South and multilateral approach towards global issues have been core to India's foreign policy, which is evident in India’s strategic partnerships with various member nations of the G20.
In an effort to make the G20 a more inclusive and vocal forum, India has always supported full membership to the African Union with equal voting rights. India and Africa share strategic partnerships in trade, education, and healthcare. With the inclusion of the AU, India’s diplomatic weight will increase, and some reports have suggested that the Union might get inducted into the upcoming summit.
This would be the first time that Africa would have its voice bolstered. Its participation will be crucial for formulating frameworks on the green economy, infrastructure, climate change resistance, inclusive health systems, counterterrorism efforts, etc., as this is a region highly susceptible to almost all the contemporary challenges.
BRAZIL AS THE NEXT PRESIDENT
As India’s presidency comes to an end on November 30, 2023, Brazil will hold the G20 presidency. Being the largest country in South America, it holds great geopolitical importance. It not only supports regional integration through its participation in MERCOSUR but is also an advocate for a strategic south-south corporation while having cordial relations with the developed world. It is one of the members of the BRICS as well.
Unless a general consensus is reached at this year’s summit, Brazil will have a lot to work on owing to differences among certain G20 nations, especially with Russia, China, and the Western world. As the Chinese and Russian presidents will not attend the New Delhi summit, to achieve tangible results, Brazil must perform a delicate balancing act to bring all the stakeholders to the table.
A growing power in renewable energy and food production, the reorganisation of energy markets, the creation of resilient global food supply chains, and the incorporation of digitization could be Brazil’s priorities as the G20 president next year.
THE PRESIDENCY OF SOUTH AFRICA: THE BRICS NEXUS
The Republic of South Africa, another BRICS ally, will take up the presidency in 2025. Its political crisis and economic mismanagement have taken a toll on its infrastructure and geopolitical standing, although it tried to prove the latter by recently hosting the annual BRICS Summit in Johannesburg.
With Brazil and South Africa successively holding presidencies, one might expect impetus on reforms of global institutions such as the WTO, more coordinated action on climate change and the transfer of science and technology, to name a few, and a deepening of people-to-people relations in the Global South.
The goals of the G20 and BRICS nations revolve around the emancipation of the Global South, with the former providing a broader space. The upcoming two summits will provide a vital base for BRICS to prove its diplomatic mettle.
G20: THE ROAD AHEAD
The G20 started as an intergovernmental economic and financial forum as a response to the 2008 global financial crisis, and since then it has widened its scope to include inclusive governance and climate action, to name a few. The COVID pandemic and the risk of potential biological and even digital threats added to the challenges. Is the world prepared for another such black swan event?
In contemporary times, when multilateralism is rising, it is satisfying to see countries that make up around 80% of the gross world product, including Western nations, working in unison. Or, at least, trying to. Cooperation in artificial intelligence, disaster risk reduction, biofuel consumption, etc. has increased among the member nations. But is it enough to diminish the global north-south divide?