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“G20, Modi's visit: doors open between Rome and Delhi” by Harsh Vardhan Shringla (Corriere della Sera)

Posted on: October 30, 2021 | Back | Print

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G20, Modi's visit: doors open between Rome and Delhi

by Harsh Vardhan Shringla  

The topics: India, which will be hosting the G20 in 2023, is in the frontline among the countries that intend to take action to save the planet and wants to lead by example in tackling climate problems

G20 Leaders meet in Rome for their 16th Leaders’ Summit under Italian presidency. India, like Italy, is one of the founding members of the G20. Created as recently as 1999, the G20 today accounts for 60% of the world population, 80% of global GDP and 75% of global exports. It has become one of the premier international platforms where Heads of State and Government can meet to improve coordination on major global issues.

The Italian G20 presidency has focused on three broad pillars of “People, Planet and Prosperity”. Italy and India are both ancient nations with links that have endured across centuries. The theme of the Italian presidency finds reflection in a defining objective of Indian state policies, the concept of “Vasudaiva Kutumbakam.” This ancient Indian phrase loosely translated, means that all people in this planet are family and should live in harmony.

The Leaders meet in the long shadow of the pandemic and in an international environment that is rapidly changing. India, like Italy, believes that shared problems require shared solutions. The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) provides a comprehensive framework for a plan of action for people, planet and prosperity. The pandemic is a reminder of the fragility of the progress that has been made in our collective efforts in eradicating poverty and meeting other developmental goals. We compliment the Italian G20 presidency on skillfully stewarding an expansive agenda that highlights the need for inter-sectoral convergence and synergy to achieve the SDGs in challenging circumstances. Pressing issues such as health, food security, agriculture, climate change, social protection, gender equality, digital economy, post-COVID travel, have been deliberated upon. The Matera Declaration with its focus on Food Security, Nutrition and Food, a call for action to ensure that SDG2 or Zero Hunger by 2030 adopted this year in Italy, is a landmark. It is in accordance with the spirit of “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikaas” which underlies Indian developmental efforts within and outside India.

The G20 can and does help create international norms. It recently agreed on an international minimum tax. The G20 countries must ensure it plays a leadership role in coordinating efforts to minimize the impact of the pandemic on the 2030 Agenda for SDGs by focusing on commitments such as those on financing for development in accordance with the Addis Ababa Action Agenda.

Climate change is one of the defining challenges of our time. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian people have a vision of climate action that is based on the Indian civilisational ethos of harmony with creation. An expansive policy and action agenda based on this vision places India amongst the front rank of nations with climate ambition. India believes that it must, and will, lead by example in dealing with problems posed by climate change.

Energy is at the center of India’s ambition and agenda. Massive investments have been made in augmenting India’s renewable power capacity. This places India on a high-velocity energy transition pathway.

India, it is well known, has the lowest per capita carbon dioxide emission levels per capita among the G20 at 1.90 tonnes of per capita. This has not stopped India from committing itself to not just meeting its Paris commitment targets but exceeding them.

India acknowledges the efforts of the Italian Presidency to focus on the interlinked issues of development and climate. This meeting of the G20 Leaders is taking place soon before the 26th COP meeting to discuss climate change. It must highlight UNFCCC commitments including on transfer of technology and financing for tackling climate change.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi will be the first Indian Prime Minister to visit Italy in over a decade. The spirit of cooperation between India and Italy within the G20 has deep roots. Ancient India and Rome were trading partners. In more recent times, Indian soldiers earned glory in the battle to liberate Italy during the Second World War.

As two modern democracies, India and Italy are committed to the rule of law and multilateralism and share increasingly convergent views on common global challenges. This political understanding is accompanied by a dynamic and diverse economic relationship with substantial commercial ties and complementary strengths in areas such as infrastructure and manufacturing, food processing and renewable energy. Acknowledging the need to tap the full potential of our relations, India and Italy adopted the 2020-2025 Action Plan for an enhanced Partnership at the Virtual Summit in November 2020 that set strategic goals in the political, economic, science & technology, and cultural spheres to be achieved in the next five years. This, together with the resolution of the long standing Enrica Lexie Italian marines issue, has propelled our bilateral ties to a higher trajectory.

Italy is also home to one of the largest Indian diaspora in Europe.

Italy is a member of the International Solar Alliance and the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure, both of which are strongly supported by India. Italy’s recognition of the Indian-made Covishield vaccine is pointer towards further cooperation in the healthcare and technology space. India has set bold new targets in renewable energy, biofuels and green hydrogen. A number of leading Italian companies are already engaged in energy related projects in India. There is scope for further strengthening the energy partnership.

India will soon follow Italy in chairing the G20. The visit of Prime Minister Narendra Modi is an opportunity to continue to orient this important relationship towards the future bilaterally and in the context of shared global responsibilities.

The author is Foreign Secretary of India