Analysis: Does the G20 have an ‘unenthusiastic’ future? | Politics News

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He was never going to be a smooth rider at the top of this year’s Group of 20 in India.

The just-concluded summit lacked certain officials – China’s Xi Jinping, who has never missed a G20 meeting since taking power in 2012, and Russian President Vladimir Putin, who jumped on top for the second year in a row since the invasion of Ukraine.

Relations between India and China remain frozen, and many people were worried that the absence of both presidents – especially Xi’s – would affect the future and relevance of the G20, especially if it could not to reach the final conference leaders.

Those concerns were partially eased when the leaders of the member countries managed to adopt a final declaration on Saturday, but only by producing the vaguest statement possible on Ukraine. He did not condemn Russia’s attack on the country and only “remembered” the statement made in the G20 declaration in Bali last year.

He referred to the resolutions of the United Nations and the need to respect territorial boundaries. This must have worried some Western officials.

On Sunday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, who was Putin’s representative at the summit, declared it “successful” and thanked the countries of the Global South for maintaining a firm position on Ukraine. Russian negotiator Svetlana Lukash told reporters in New Delhi that the joint declaration was “fair” and welcomed by Moscow. She said the BRICS countries – Brazil, India, China and South Africa, as well as Russia – and other allies contributed to the “fair” declaration.

Although Russia was clearly satisfied with the results, Western diplomats may believe it was a price worth paying. They need to keep the G20 working. Many Western countries, which are worried about the rise of China’s power, want New Delhi – a strategic pressure against Beijing – to be able to say that this summit was a great success.

The international aid group Oxfam called the summit “disheartening and preposterous” and no action was taken to tackle poverty, inequality and climate change.

To be sure, there were words at the summit about the restructuring of the global financial system devised at the Bretton Woods Conference at the end of World War II, which most international experts believe is outdated. The conclave discussed the possibility of reform but there are no timelines or action plan.

The same applies to global debt. Many countries are struggling and are on what the UN calls a “debt chain”. Relief is needed with provisions put in place for these countries, but no tough measures have been announced.

The UN spokesperson said the organization was not involved in providing a line-by-line report card on the G20’s decisions. But despite that very diplomatic approach, the UN said they were unhappy with the outcome of climate change.

The G20 countries are responsible for 80 percent of the world’s emissions. However, there are no guarantees to phase out coal, and no timelines have been created.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told Al Jazeera at the start of the meeting that he had ambitious new goals for the G20 – for rich countries to reach net zero by 2040 or sooner, and developing countries by 2050. But two days later, he does not have those promises in the final declaration.

The G20 was first established as an economic group of finance ministers in 1999. It has no permanent secretariat and no one to scrutinize how things are being delivered. Because it is a multifaceted organization, change is slow and gradual. Many experts fear that this will not provide the progress needed to solve the great problems facing humanity.

Guterres told Al Jazeera in the interview that he feared a big break – the world dividing into two blocs, one led by the United States and the other by China. It would be a system where there are two major currencies on either side of this divide, two internets and two different economies. He said it would be a disaster for the world.

The question is – are we getting there yet? Are we slowly moving to a world where the US and our G7 friends are on one side, and the BRICS bloc (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) on the other? Xi took center stage in South Africa for the BRICS summit last month and chose to miss the G20; some fear that may be the way it is headed.

To be sure, there are many countries that are trying to keep a foot in both camps, with India for example. That means it may not yet be a deal that the world is splitting up as some fear.

The next G20 summit is in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in November 2024, with President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva taking over the presidency. In that role, Brazil will have a good degree of control over the agenda and will hope to influence the group.

For the first time, the African Union will have a seat at the summit, representing 55 countries, including some of the world’s poorest. Lula’s political positions are well-known, so the issues of inequality, poverty and reform of world finance may be pushed even harder next year.

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