G20 Summit 2023: The hidden agenda
September 1, 2023: Just a few days from now, Dilli will host the G20 Summit 2023. The capital city is busy dressing up for the big event. And there can be no better time to ask some basic questions about the Group of 20: what is the actual role of the G20? What is the real purpose of a G20 summit? Who is it really for? Let’s dig deep and find out.
From September 9-10, more than 12,000 top delegates from well over 100 countries will be in Dilli for the G20 Summit 2023. Joe Biden, Rishi Sunak, Emmanuel Macron, Xi Jinping will be here with Mohammad bin Salman, Justin Trudeau, and many others. There will be top officials from the World Bank, IMF, and the UN. And also from the European Union, World Trade Organisation, and the WHO. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping are set to give it a miss.
As we head into G20 Summit 2023, it’s worth recalling that the annual gathering has been taking place since 2008. The Pragati Maidan in Dilli will host the 18th edition. In all these years, what has this Group of 20 achieved for the people of the world? To understand this, let’s first see what the G20 itself is. It’s an international platform of the world’s 19 biggest economies, plus the European Union. The G20 nations cover 80% of the global economic output and 75% of international trade.
G20 Summit 2023: The background
The narrative we are told is this. Responsible countries came together after the 1997 Asian financial crisis. They formed the G20 in 1999. Their stated objective? To stabilise the global economy and solve urgent problems. Their mission is like a James Bond movie: to make the planet a better place to live in. Sustainable development, better income distribution, justice, peace, climate change mitigation – these are some of the things that G20 is supposed to tackle. The G20 Summit 2023, too, should ideally take up these issues on an urgent basis.
After 17 highly expensive G20 summits, where does the world stand today? Not in a good place, not at all. 40% of all food around the world today is wasted. Only 60% makes it to the table. The richest 10% of the world population gets 52% of the global income. The richest 10% of the global population own 76% of all wealth. There are 872 million undernourished people on the planet. At the same time, there are 1.75 billion overweight people.
There is more misery around us. Nearly 30,000 people are dying everyday due to hunger. This year alone, 5.3 million people died from cancer. Almost seven lakh people committed suicide in 2023. There’s more. 770 million people have no access to safe drinking water. Africa is still the most exploited continent. The world’s 10 poorest countries are all African. Some of the world’s biggest grain exporters are teeming with hungry people.
America’s gun problem is still out of control. China is rising, but it still has no democracy. Migration is an embarrassing problem with Europe increasingly becoming xenophobic. Racism and white supremacy are rising. So is rightwing politics in Europe. Climate change is often debated. But car companies and oil companies are still doing good business. And monopolies are muscling out small businesses like never before.
That’s a long list of things gone wrong while the G20 held flashy summits in beautiful cities – in Washington DC, London, Paris, Osaka, Brisbane, Rome, and where not – and now in Dilli. Clearly, G20 summits are not delivering the goods. Summits are happening. Venues are changing. The miseries remain the same. The G20 Summit 2023 is likely to follow the same pattern.
G20 and G7: A case of wolf in sheepskin
So, what is wrong with the G20? What are we missing here? Here’s the truth. The G20 is like a wolf in sheepskin. It is a grouping that is actually controlled by the G7 countries. And what is G7? It is a cartel of seven powerful nations. G7 is the ivory tower of power and money. It is dedicated to a single cause – ensuring that the Anglo-American West remains the biggest imperialist power. America, Britain, Canada, Japan, Italy, France, and Germany are its members. Plus, the European Union.
As economies, the G7 members are very influential. As governments, they are highly interventionist. The biggest corporations in the world are headquartered in the G7 countries. So are the big financial bodies like the World Bank and the IMF. During the late 1990s, the G7 players used global economic problems as an excuse to expand their footprint. So, they helped form the G20 by cherry-picking their favourite nations.
Through this Group of 20, G7 continues to push its own economic agenda. An agenda that has made corporate monopolies become bigger and richer. Thanks to the expanding influence of G7 in the form of G20, we now have a bunch of unprecedented problems – like centralisation of corporate power, rising inequality and hunger, more conflicts, rising xenophobia, and many more miseries.
G20 Summit 2023: An ivory tower party?
G20 summits are so disconnected from ground realities that there is a history of protests against them. Good advice from civil society groups and activists are always ignored by the G20. That’s because the actual social issues are never on their agenda. That’s why protests take place wherever G20 summits happen. They happened so many times in the past. Demonstrations and boycott calls happened in Rome, in Riyadh, in Hamburg. Just last year, Indonesia banned anti-G20 protests as Bali hosted the 17th summit.
Here in Dilli, at least 2.5 lakh people were impacted by evictions. Why? Because authorities have been sweeping the city clean to make it beautiful for visitors like Joe Biden, Rishi Sunak, and Justin Trudeau.
In fact, the authorities poured cold water on a recent gathering of civil society groups in Dilli. They had come together to raise awareness about the G20 and discuss urgent social issues.
Voices from the Global South
More than 500 people, including economists, activists, and lawmakers had assembled for a peaceful event called We20. It was scheduled for three days, from August 18-20 at Surjeet Bhawan in Dilli. It was organised by the Working Group on International Finance Institutions, in the back drop of the upcoming G20 Summit 2023 at Pragati Maidan.
Medha Patkar, Vandana Shiva, Jayati Ghosh, Nikhil Dey, and Arun Kumar were among many dissident voices who took part in the pro-people We20 event. Its purpose was to hold talks and workshops on public issues such as finance, banking, RTI, data surveillance, and so on. But midway into the event, police were deployed at the venue and the programme was cut short.
The G20 leaders will come, have a good time, and go. The mainstream media will celebrate the G20 Summit 2023 as a major milestone for Dilli, Bharat, and the world. Yet, problems like Ukraine, climate change, hunger deaths, and rural distress will remain, if not worsen.
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