What is G20 and Why Does the Delhi Summit Matter?
The President and Prime Minister are convening a meeting in the Indian capital, Delhi, from September 9th to 10th for the annual G20 Summit of leaders.
The primary agenda of the meeting is sustainable development, but there is also hope for discussions on the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
What is G20?
G20, or the Group of Twenty, is a club of countries that come together to discuss global economic and political issues.
Among them, G20 countries contribute over 85% of the world’s economic production and more than 75% of global trade. They account for two-thirds of the world’s population.
In addition to the European Union, there are 19 G20 member countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
A smaller subset of G20 member countries meets as G7.
Why Was G20 Established, and What Does It Signify?
The group was established in 1999 in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis. It was designed as a forum for finance ministers and officials to discuss ways to stabilize the global economy.
To enhance international cooperation, the first G20 Summit of leaders was held in 2008 in response to the financial turmoil of that year.
In recent years, the G20 has expanded its focus to include issues like climate change and sustainable energy.
Each year, a different G20 member state chairs the summit and sets the agenda for leaders’ discussions.
What Does the G20 Summit in India Signify?
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi aims to position his country as a major global power and himself as a significant world leader ahead of the general elections in spring 2024.
He will seek to ensure that the conflict in Ukraine does not overshadow the summit, as happened with the Bali summit in 2022 over disputes related to Indonesia.
The disagreements had meant that there was no joint statement at the end of the G20 Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Delhi in March.
Russian President Vladimir Putin will not attend the summit, sending his Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov instead.
Chinese President Xi Jinping will also stay away, with Premier Li Keqiang representing China instead.
What Other Challenges May Arise?
In May 2023, both China and Saudi Arabia boycotted a G20 tourism meeting hosted in Indian-administered Kashmir due to India’s claims over the region, which is also disputed with Pakistan.
More recently, tensions between India and China have flared up again after Beijing released a map laying claim to Arunachal Pradesh state and the Aksai Chin plateau as Chinese territories.
The United States has called on China to resolve its tensions with India and play a “constructive role” in the G20 Summit.
What Has G20 Achieved?
During the 2008 and 2009 summits, held amid the global financial crisis, leaders agreed on several measures to save the global economic system.
However, some critics argue that subsequent summits have been less productive, often due to tensions between rival world powers.
Nevertheless, face-to-face meetings between leaders have often proven to be productive.
For instance, at the 2019 Osaka Summit, then-U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to restart talks to resolve a major trade dispute.
Security Concerns at the G20 Summit
The G20 Summit attracts anti-globalization protests.
The Indian government is beefing up security measures ahead of the Delhi event.
Roads around the venue have been closed, and 130,000 security personnel are being deployed throughout the city. New measures have also been implemented to keep troublesome monkeys away from the area.
Delhi has a significant monkey population, and authorities want to prevent them from causing disruptions during the summit.