Reigniting the era of extravagant diplomatic meets, the 16th edition of the G20 meeting, short for group of 20, is underway. The venue is Rome, the eternal city and home of the Catholic Church.
This is a diplomatic jaunt for the leaders of the top 20 economies of the world, replete with photo-ops, back-slapping, personal interactions and elaborate welcome ceremonies. Together, these countries account for 85% of the global economy, three-fourth of the world trade and two-thirds of the global population. Some high wired diplomacy is in place.
World leaders have congregated in Rome, where they will discuss climate change, the Wuhan virus and post-pandemic economic recovery. These issues have been encapsulated under one theme—people, planet and prosperity. This is the first meeting since the pandemic began, and hence it is crucial. It will set the tone for the upcoming COP26 meeting in Glasgow.
Keeping in view the high profile nature of attendees to the summit, elaborate security arrangements have been made to meet any eventuality. Around 2000 cops have been fielded in Rome and 500 soldiers to counter any threat during the meeting. Some high profile absentees from the meeting are the presidents of China and Russia, who are both busy fighting the surge in Covid cases in their respective countries.
Moscow is under lockdown, and Wuhan has also been put under lockdown. The US is not happy at all with the absence of Xi Jinping. President Biden was very keen to have an in-person meeting with the Chinese premier.
There are issues related to climate financing. The developing world is keen that the developed world does more financing of green projects across the world. This is a point of divergence between the two sets of nations but there is unanimity that the scourge of climate change needs to be taken seriously. Any more complacency on this issue will lead to lot of suffering for humanity. The untimely rains and flooding have already created havoc around the world.
Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has also landed in Rome. He began his 3-day sojourn by having a bilateral with the president of the European Council and another with the president of the European Commission. The leaders discussed ways to enhance economic as well as people to interactions thereby creating a safer planet. He then paid a tribute to the bronze bust of Mahatma Gandhi at the Piazza Ghandi in Rome.
He will later have a bilateral with Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi. Next on his itinerary is an audience with Pope Francis followed by bilateral meeting with all the G20 leaders. France was miffed with the US for signing AUKUS and was looking towards India for a nuclear submarine deal. This will be the first meeting of the two heads after AUKUS was formed and will discuss ways to strengthen their strategic partnership in the Indo-Pacific.
The G20 assumes significance as the global economies are struggling to make a recovery with unemployment, hunger and supply chain constraints crippling the world. According to IMF, India will be the fastest growing economy in the post pandemic world. Alongside the meeting of heads of state, a meeting of the finance ministers and health ministers of the G20 nations is also underway to find ways to mitigate the economic fallout from the pandemic.
The G20 leaders also agreed upon a minimum corporate tax rate of 15% to be accepted universally. After the G20 is over, Prime Minister Narendra Modi will leave for Glasgow to attend the COP26 summit on climate change.
Edited by Anupama Roy