RISING GLOBAL debt, loss of employment, runaway inflation and the slowdown in growth — these are among the challenges facing the global economy that are set to be on the centrestage as officials from 40 countries converged Sunday to kick off the first Sherpa track under India’s G20 presidency.
Udaipur was chosen as the location for the first official G20 event for a “mentally rejuvenating” and “spirituality invigorating” experience, officials said, as discussions focus on “looking beyond the crisis” to build new ways for improving livelihood and move towards an inclusive, ambitious, decisive and action-oriented development strategy.
“There’s a huge challenge before all of us — the world is in the midst of a turmoil. We are passing through a massive geopolitical crisis, which is being witnessed before all of us in Europe. We have seen the breakdown of global supply chains, we are seeing 70 countries of the world suffering from global debt, we are seeing huge crises of climate action and climate finance and on top of that, we are seeing challenges of literacy, health, of vast segments of population going below the poverty line,” India’s G20 Sherpa Amitabh Kant said at the first panel discussion on ‘Transforming Lives: Accelerating Implementation of SDGs’.
“And then there’s the challenge of inflation, the challenge of the slowdown of global growth. At this moment of crises, India is taking over the presidency of G20. Our belief is every crisis is a good opportunity and leadership is finding pathbreaking solutions in the midst of crisis,” he said.
The key responsibility of all Sherpas will be “to look beyond the immediate, to look beyond all the crisis, to see how we can shape a new future, how we can shape a completely new world”, Kant said. The four-day gathering of the Sherpas will see formal meetings begin from Monday.
Sherpas are personal representatives of leaders of member countries at such international summits, with the term being derived from the Nepalese who serve as guides for mountaineers in the Himalayas.
During its term, India will hold over 200 meetings across 32 different workstreams in 50 cities, involving ministers, government officials and civil society members, leading up to the final summit in New Delhi in September 2023. The timing of the summit is seen as crucial, coming ahead of the general elections in 2024.
The Sherpa track, which will set the agenda for the G20 leaders in September next year, will engage on topics from 13 working groups ranging from energy, trade and investment, development, employment, tourism, agriculture, digital economy, health, education, culture, environment and anti-corruption.
The issue notes were shared with the member countries 20 days ago and will now be taken up for discussion, including points from the two new groups — Disaster, Risk and Resilience Group and Startup20 Engagement Group — brought to the forefront by India under its presidency, officials said.
With the presidency shifting from a developed country to an emerging economy, India sees this as an opportunity to share its work done in sectors of digital transformation and sustainable development goals, especially in areas of health, education and women-led development, an official said.
Work done in the sphere of digital public infrastructure, including vaccination and India’s Covid efforts under the CoWIN platform, will also be discussed with representatives of other countries, the official said.
The presidency steers the G20 agenda for one year till the final summit next September. India took over from Indonesia at a time of geopolitical turmoil and uncertainty over the post-pandemic economic turnaround and the war in Ukraine. After India, Brazil will take over the presidency, followed by South Africa in 2025.
The G20 consists of two parallel tracks: the Finance track, led by Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, and the Sherpa track.
India’s G20 presidency theme is of ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’ — ‘One Earth One Family One Future’, as well as the vision of an ‘all of government’ approach. In the first event of the Sherpa track, two rounds of informal discussions will also be held as “chai pe charcha”, or discussions over tea, a term made famous during the BJP’s election campaign of 2014.