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Editorial Articles


Issue no 21, 19-25 August 2023

Think20's Dynamic Role in G20 Policy Evolution

Advitya Bahl

The Think20 (T20), an official Engagement Group of the G20, unveiled its Communique on August 2, 2023, that distills a year's worth of rigorous discussions and insights into a comprehensive set of policy recommendations. As India prepares for the culmination of its G20 presidency in September 2023, the T20's Communique stands as a beacon of intellect and innovation, offering actionable solutions to address the complex web of global challenges.

Serving as an "ideas bank" for the G20, the T20 assembles think tanks and esteemed experts from around the world to deliberate on issues crucial to the G20's mandate. These deliberations culminate in meticulously synthesised policy briefs, which are then presented to G20 working groups, ministerial meetings, and the leaders' summit. The T20's recommendations wield considerable influence, shaping concrete policy measures on the international stage.

The Communique draws its essence from the official statements of T20 India's seven Task Forces - each devoted to a key facet of our interconnected world. These task forces have collated insights and recommendations from a year's worth of indepth discussions, forums, and convenings. It draws upon the diverse expertise of researchers and scholars hailing from across the globe, reinforcing its status as a testament to collaborative intelligence and forward-looking solutions. Listed below are a set of policy propositions presented by the T20 for consideration at the upcoming G20 Summit.

MACROECONOMIC AND TRADE POLICY COORDINATION

In a time of uncertain global politics, security challenges, and disruptions in the worldwide economic landscape, the G20 has a pivotal responsibility in upholding stability in economies and coordinating efforts among member nations in managing monetary, fiscal, trade, and investment policies. The intricate network of economic and financial risks on a global scale demands comprehensive solutions that are crafted with a global perspective. These actions could potentially enhance job opportunities and ensure improved living standards. To synchronise the fiscal, trade, and investment strategies across countries, T20 India puts forth the following suggestions:

·         Monitor global financial risks with consistent data-sharing for effective policy-making and early warnings.

·         Establish a G20 Digital Trade Platform to modernise agreements while safeguarding data and security.

·         Promote regulatory coherence and consider a sub-working group for services trade issues.

·         Reach consensus on new trade policies, focusing on green and digital trade.

·         Strengthen supply chains through national logistics portals and cross-border collaboration.

·         Support free trade in environmental goods, enhance standards, and avoid new trade barriers.

·         Explore streamlined tax base policies, assess wealth tax impacts, and consider international financial transaction tax benefits.

·         Develop a framework for social protection and fair compensation for gig and platform workers.

AFFORDABLE, ACCESSIBLE AND INCLUSIVE DIGITAL PUBLIC INFRASTRUCTURE

Digital technologies possess immense potential to drive socio-economic progress and accelerate SDGs (Sustainable Development Goals) achievement. However, unlocking their full benefits requires improved access, responsible design, enhanced digital skills, and a just governance framework. To forge an open, competitive, and equitable digital society, T20 India puts forth these recommendations:

·         Foster public-private partnerships to create scalable, open-access Digital Public Infrastructures (DPI) that fuel innovation.

·         Prioritise human rights, security, and privacy in developing DPIs, aligning public policy with technology standards and principles.

·         Champion DPI-enabled digital innovations that advance financial inclusion, social protection, and competition, reducing economic disparities.

·         Establish a G20 Working Group on Digital Public Infrastructure to coordinate global standards, regulation, and policies for responsible and sustainable DPI development.

·         Elevate digital skilling and entrepreneurship, aligning curricula with industry needs and prioritising energy-efficient technology development.

·         Harness 'data for development' through open data promotion and innovative funding processes to create robust data ecosystems.

·         Focus on bridging digital divides by empowering vulnerable populations, fostering equity and distributive justice.

LiFE, RESILIENCE AND VALUES FOR WELL-BEING

As climate change accelerates, individual actions gain significance in fostering sustainable consumption. Integrating the 'Lifestyle for Environment' (LiFE) approach into the G20 agenda is pivotal for mainstreaming eco-friendly practices. T20 India suggests these actions to the G20:

·         Cultivate public-private partnerships for scalable, innovative, and green Digital Public Infrastructures (DPIs).

·         Utilise existing climate commitments to promote sustainable choices.

·         Promote nature-based solutions for SDGs and climate goals.

·         Integrate natural capital valuation and financial instruments for conservation.

·         Revamp global financial frameworks based on 'High-level Principles on Lifestyles for Sustainable Development.'

·         Launch a Global Partnership for Sustainable Lifestyles (GPSL) for actionable roadmaps.

·         Initiate a research coalition to redefine ethics, equity, and morality.

·         Embrace new well-being metrics beyond GDP.

·         Foster systemic transformation with sustainable business models and practices.

·         Advocate for balanced lifestyles, preventive healthcare, and gender equity.

·         Develop low-carbon infrastructure for small towns, islands, and protected areas.

·         Establish climate-adaptive infrastructure for small cities and towns, engaging communities.

·         Explore blended finance and co-financing for balanced rural-urban growth.

·         Recapitalise MDBs to catalyse investment for sustainable projects.

·         Create a Global Infrastructure Observatory for transparent, accountable, and environment-conscious investments.

CLEAN ENERGY AND GREEN TRANSITIONS

Addressing climate change demands a clean, equitable, and just energy transition that aligns with the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement. Developing nations' concerns must be accounted for, and the shift to sustainable energy systems should be inclusive. T20 India provides key recommendations for a successful transition:

·         G20 reaffirm commitment to Paris Agreement and establish differentiated decarbonisation paths.

·         Encourage non-discriminatory trade policies for emissions reduction through cooperation.

·         Support roadmaps to eliminate untargeted fossil fuel subsidies.

·         Promote resilient and sustainable clean energy supply chains, emphasising a circular economy.

·         Establish an International Minerals Agency to enhance critical mineral supply chain resilience.

·         Build capacity in developing nations for coordinated SDG and climate action.

·         Advocate green public procurement to drive demand for eco-friendly products.

·         Collaborate on technology co-development for accelerating the energy transition.

·         Form a Tech20 Engagement Group to facilitate technology cooperation and IP reforms.

·         Address N2O emissions to achieve the 1.5°C goal under the Montreal Protocol.

·         Implement the Kigali Amendment for energy efficiency in cooling equipment.

·         Strengthen coordination between G20 working groups to integrate SDGs and climate actions effectively.

CATALYSING CLIMATE FINANCE

T20 Proposals for G20 on enhancing climate finance and sustainable growth include:

·         Reinforce and call on developed nations to fulfill their commitment of mobilising US$100 billion annually until 2025 for climate

·         Drive development finance towards low-carbon, resilient, and inclusive growth.

·         w             Task the G20 Sustainable Finance Working Group to provide an annual Green Finance Report, tracking clean energy investments and climate finance.

·         Support a Green Development and Investment Accelerator (GDIA) to boost bankable clean energy projects by facilitating trilateral collaboration among governments, industry, and financiers.

·         Collaborate with MDBs and DFIs to expand innovative financing tools like SDG Bonds and tradable credits, aiming for increased green development funding through capital commitments and prompt implementation of recommendations from the G20 Independent Review of MDBs' Capital Adequacy Frameworks.

·         Develop a private sector engagement framework, such as shared value (CSV), to involve businesses in SDG financing.

·         Establish a G20 Development Working Group matchmaking mechanism to identify opportunities for triangular cooperation among member nations and partner countries.

REASSESSING THE GLOBAL FINANCIAL ORDER

The T20 recommends that the G20 must undertake bold steps to reimagine a more effective and equitable global financial order:

·         Drive finance towards climate action and SDGs by increasing funds for developing countries and leveraging private finance. Utilise innovative mechanisms like Special Drawing Rights (SDRs) and support African Development Bank's approaches.

·         Enhance debt relief mechanisms, incentivise private creditor participation, and ensure restructuring supports private creditor return.

·         Explore innovative debt relief mechanisms, align policies with sustainable goals, and support programs like Catastrophe Containment and Relief Trust (CCRT).

·         Expand MDBs' (Multilateral Development Banks) capacity to attract private capital through risk-mitigation tools and blended financing. Utilise Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency (MIGA) and GEMs for risk sharing.

·         Mobilise private capital for clean energy in developing nations through risk assessments, blended financing, and debt-for-climate swaps.

·         Foster knowledge-sharing among financial institutions, promote capacity building, and develop bankable projects.

·         Enhance infrastructure and development finance access through capacity-building initiatives and knowledge sharing.

·         Support information sharing, standardisation, and data availability using new technologies, especially for Least Developed Countries (LDCs) and Small Island Developing States (SIDSs).

·         Establish a Development Financial Institution (DFI) within the G20 to bridge the SDG financing gap and fuel global growth during crises.

·         Promote uniform tax and regulations to prevent arbitrage and increase financial stability, while tackling illicit financing and money laundering.

·         Explore the potential of Central Bank Digital Currency (CBDC) for cross-border trade and financial inclusion.

·         Scale up private capital flows to the Global South through digital public infrastructure, regulatory frameworks, and innovative instruments. Collaborate with sovereign wealth and pension funds for tailored investment programs.

ACCELERATING SDGs

The G20 has shown support for the 2030 Agenda, but many developing countries are off track in achieving the SDGs, with COVID-19 and other challenges exacerbating the situation. The UN predicts these crises could push over 175 million people into extreme poverty. While G20 nations have made commitments and efforts towards the SDGs, more coordinated action is needed to address challenges such as food and water security, health, gender-sensitive programs, and development cooperation. T20 India's recommendations encompass various areas including food security, agriculture, water governance, health, biodiversity, gender aspects, children's well-being, and partnerships for SDGs.

·         Recognise SDG progress gaps, commit to transformative actions, and enhance international cooperation.

·         Develop a comprehensive framework for nutrition-sensitive social protection systems, focusing on vulnerable populations.

·         Leverage tech-enabled data analysis to improve agricultural value chains and food security.

·         Safeguard food supply chains against pandemics and geopolitical crises through universal commitment to distribution network stability

·         Create a framework for sustainable water solutions involving local communities, focusing on Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM).

·         w             Establish a pandemic fund and distributed network of supplies for future shocks.

·         Launch a Global Initiative on Digital Health for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) and digital solutions.

·         Foster international collaboration in vaccines, therapeutics, and diagnostics (VTDs), aiming for equitable access.

·         Form international and national committees for universal digital access to inclusive healthcare.

·         Adopt a multisectoral 'One Health' approach, addressing human, animal, and ecosystem health.

·         Accelerate research investment in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) through sustainable financing models.

·         Implement the Global Biodiversity Framework (GBF) with ample funding for biodiversity preservation.

·         Strengthen national statistical offices to collect and provide credible data for effective SDG monitoring.

·         Promote synergies across G20 workstreams to minimise trade-offs and enhance SDG progress.

ELIMINATE GENDER DIVIDE

·         Promote female workforce participation through gender budgeting, transformative policies, and inclusive care systems.

·         Eliminate the gender digital divide through targeted digital literacy and assets for women.

·         Establish a fund to finance women-owned micro/small enterprises in G20 countries.

·         Prioritise funding for maternal, child, and adolescent health and well-being, including education and menstrual hygiene support.

REFORMED MULTILATERALISM

In the pursuit of stability, peace, and economic growth, multilateralism remains crucial. However, adapting current frameworks to reflect today's world order and address emerging challenges is essential. The existing international system faces various obstacles, and the G20 plays a vital role in reforming and revitalising effective multilateralism. T20 India proposes a roadmap for 'Multilateralism 2.0' that includes concrete actions:

·         Establishment of an expert group to reform global governance, including UN Security Council membership and veto power.

·         Ensuring representation from developing countries, particularly through the inclusion of under represented regions like the African Union in the G20.

·         Utilising digital development experiences, such as that of India's, for the benefit of marginalised sectors through Public-Private Partnerships.

·         Adapting the World Health Organization (WHO) to contemporary challenges and promoting traditional medical systems.

·         Creation of an Intergovernmental Panel on Pandemic Risk and Preparedness akin to the IPCC for climate change.

·         Enhancing coordination between the WTO and other global economic organisations.

·         Tasking the WTO with coordinating trade rules reform in alignment with G20 objectives.

In a world rife with complexity and interwoven crises, the T20 India Communique emerges as a clarion call for multilateral cooperation. The global landscape is marred by a confluence of challenges - from the reverberations of the COVID-19 pandemic to evolving geopolitical dynamics triggering crises in energy, food, and fertilizers, and the looming specter of climate change. T20's Communique underscores the pressing need for coordinated action, as fragmenting geopolitical and geo-economic relationships threaten global stability.

Embodying India's G20 presidency motto, 'Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam' - 'One Earth w One Family w One Future' - the Communique echoes a call for collaborative action to restructure our relationship with the planet and forge new pathways for sustainable economic systems. Guided by these principles, T20's Task Forces have outlined priorities that resonate deeply with the global agenda, including green development, climate finance, women-led development, digital transformations, and more.

(The author is a Delhi-based Journalist. You can send your feedback on this article at feedback.employments@gmail.com).

Views expressed are personal.)