November 21, 2022
JAKARTA – President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo passed the baton of the Group of 20 presidency to India this week, ushering in the next stage of a four-year period of emerging economies chairing the group, as experts stress the importance of continuity and follow-through in G20 policy.
In a ceremony at the end of the two-day G20 Leaders’ Summit in Bali on Wednesday, Jokowi handed the chairman’s gavel over to Indian President Narendra Modi, who will chair next year’s G20 meetings.
“I want to extend my congratulations to India, which will take over the next G20 presidency. The mandate to safeguard and realize global recovery and strong and inclusive growth will now rest in the hands of His Excellency Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” Jokowi said.
“I am certain that under Prime Minister Modi’s leadership, the G20 will continue to move forward. Next year, Indonesia is ready to support India’s G20 presidency.”
As the outgoing chair, Indonesia was the first of a run of G20 presidents from the world of emerging economies. Incoming chair India, its successor Brazil and the following president South Africa, which takes over the presidency in 2025, will complete the series.
The ceremony comes at the end of a summit that saw G20 leaders come together to issue the Bali Declaration, following days of wrangling over how best to address the Russian war in Ukraine, which has significantly impacted the global economic recovery.
During its presidency, Indonesia had faced pressure from the West to ostracize Russia. But the country sought to keep its G20 agenda on track by highlighting the multiple “concrete deliverables” that had been achieved throughout the year, including the establishment of a fund to prepare for future pandemics, assistance for low-income countries and institutional support for a just energy transition.
Taken together, these accomplishments would ensure “the G20 is beneficial not only to its members but also to the world – in particular developing countries”, Jokowi said during his closing speech.
Speaking in Hindi at the handover ceremony, Modi said India would strive to ensure that the G20 acted as a global “prime mover” to envision new ideas and accelerate collective action over the coming year.
“India is taking charge of the G20 at a time when the world is simultaneously grappling with geopolitical tensions, economic slowdown, rising food and energy prices and the long-term ill effects of the pandemic,” Modi said.
“At such a time, the world looks to the G20 with hope. Today, I want to assure [the world] that India’s G20 presidency will be inclusive, ambitious, decisive and action-oriented,” he added.
For its official G20 presidency slogan, India has chosen “One Earth, One Family, One Future”.
“Together, we will make the G20 a catalyst for global change,” he said.
Analysts and observers have heralded the successful Bali Summit proceedings, while also offering a reminder that much important work still needs doing.
Speaking at The Jakarta Post’s live coverage of the summit on Wednesday, former foreign minister Hassan Wirajuda stressed the “importance of coordination with the upcoming chair” to maintain and advance what was achieved in Bali.
“Our position in the G20 not only represents Indonesia but also the larger interests of developing countries. We are the voice of developing countries. That’s why we have to work closely with the upcoming chairs,” Hassan said.
“If what was discussed and agreed upon is not followed up, then people might say, ‘Oh, the G20 is dysfunctional.’ We have to prove – we have proven – it is functional and continues to be functional,” he said during the panel discussion.
Another panelist, Puspa Amri, an economics professor at Sonoma State University, noted that implementation and continuity had been a particular weakness of the G20.
“Sure, announcing new initiatives with fanfare is great PR, but someone also has to take stock of the existing initiatives, how those are monitored and [implemented],” Puspa said on Wednesday.
She cited the Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) as an example, an important issue for low-income countries that have been hit by debt crises as a result of the pandemic and rising interest rates. Despite being announced at the G20 Summit in Rome last year, she said, the program was still seeing low uptake.
Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) international relations researcher Andrew Mantong said developing countries, as the beneficiaries of these pledges, ought to temper their expectations.
“In practice, there’s been a big gap between what was pledged and what’s actually delivered,” he said.
Andrew said the billions of dollars promised by United States President Joe Biden at the Rome Summit last year to combat climate change had failed to materialize. He reasoned that this was a consequence of the informal nature of the G20.
“Whatever has been agreed upon by the G20, it lacks a sort of robust mechanism to ensure compliance and implementation,” he said.