The Powerhouses: A Closer Look at the Indonesian and Indian G20 Presidencies

G20 Summit

The September 2023 New Delhi G20 Summit marked the end of the Indian G20 presidency and Indonesia’s role in the troika. Indonesian President Joko Widodo’s pacifist demeanour was reflected in his handling of the Ukraine conflict and his role during the G20 negotiations. Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasized diplomacy and collective resolve to address ongoing tensions in Ukraine and actively engaged Russia and Ukraine throughout the Indian presidency.

During the most difficult G20 ever, Indonesia held its ground on Russia, refusing to withdraw Putin’s invitation but condemning Russia at the summit. Under Widodo’s leadership, Indonesia focused on binding global leaders together to pacify opposition and produce a joint declaration. Modi’s efforts supplemented this stance, with the US Deputy National Security Adviser Jon Finer declaring him ‘instrumental’ in forging a consensus around a joint declaration. Both leaders prioritized engagement with students, civil society, and businesses and engagement groups within each country. Modi’s G20 messages reached millions of people through hundreds of publications, and cultural and culinary programs and tourism projects were part of the G20 spectacle.

This connection and engagement allowed domestic priorities to enter the global stage, with Indonesia hosting the first meeting of official auditors at the engagement group level, and India introducing an engagement group on start-ups. The Indonesian G20 presidency has focused on energy transition and finance initiatives, with Indonesia promoting clean energy transition and developing a framework for a fair, affordable, and inclusive transition. India has led the G20 Chief Scientific Advisers’ Roundtable and pushed the Mission Lifestyle for Environment to encourage individual behavioural changes.

The G20 established a new financial intermediary fund for pandemic prevention, preparedness, and response, aiming to identify gaps, coordinate approaches, and increase financial resources. Indonesia has initiated 361 cooperation projects worth around $238 billion, including an agricultural training centre in Fiji and disaster management training in the Caribbean Community. India has also initiated the Disaster Risk Reduction Working Group to manage disaster risks, build resilient economies, and tackle extreme weather events.

The G20 Yogyakarta Financial Inclusion Framework focuses on digital financial inclusion, while Indonesia advocates for a stronger multilateral system and effective global partnerships. Both Indonesia and India emphasize the need for reform of Multilateral Development Banks to support developing countries and regain momentum for the Sustainable Development Goals. The Indonesian and Indian G20 presidencys have both prioritized tax reforms to address issues such as profit shifting, international tax regulation, illicit financial flows, and the digital economy. Indonesia’s G20 presidency called for increased tax revenues and addressing these issues through bilateral policy development, digital taxation, and gender-inclusive taxation.

The Indian presidency, like Indonesia, took an inclusive approach, proposing an inclusive presidency that included countries from the Global South and made the African Union the 21st member of the G20. India hosted the largest-ever G20 contingent at the New Delhi summit, with 43 delegations. The G20 will continue to play a critical role in global governance, guiding effective international cooperation to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

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