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Monday, March 20, 2023

India’s chance to change the world order

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Opportunities to improve the international order come along once in a generation. This year could be one of those chances. Reviews are scheduled for major international initiatives, including the Paris Agreement, the most significant international commitment to meeting the climate crisis, and the UN Sustainable Development Goals, the most ambitious 21st century effort to improve the lives of the poor and vulnerable. A new World Bank President is taking office. And in addition to the G7 in Japan, India is co-hosting leaders in Paris to discuss the state of international finance institutions in June and then hosting the G20 in September.

This rare opportunity comes just in time. Today, conflicts and crises are battering nations and vulnerable people are falling farther behind. India, as host of the G20 and the rising power from the Global South, is in a unique position to not only push for action to address this era’s challenges but to bring specific ideas on the table.

Thankfully, India has a valuable perspective, a proven track record at home, and a wealth of innovative ideas that have emerged in recent years. With India’s leadership, the world can ensure today’s institutions and agreements are positioned to better serve the lives of the most vulnerable around the world tomorrow. The international system will not change on its own. Appetite for reforms has been insufficient. It has been a low priority at G7, G20, and even World Bank and IMF meetings in recent years. Some of this reticence is understandable — from the pandemic to climate change to the conflict in Ukraine — the urgency and disagreements of the day have made it hard to take on long-term reforms.

This year, India’s role could prove decisive. India’s commitment to the Pandemic Fund, a pioneering financial mechanism introduced in the Indonesian G20 Presidency, highlights the need for targeted investments that strengthen pandemic preparedness and response capacities at national and global levels. This idea needs funding — only $1.6 billion of its $10.5 billion annual budget has been secured — but it could prove impactful for years.

These are the sort of innovations and leadership the international order needs to help people endure compounding, confluent crises and empower them to seek and pursue opportunities. With reforms, the global system could better reflect India’s recent actions under Prime Minister Narendra Modi. International institutions and agreements could vastly expand the quantity and quality of capital available to developing countries who are eager to empower their people with renewables, to invest in agriculture that’s good for people and the planet, and prepare for disease outbreaks. At G20 as well as in Paris and at stock takings, India can bring this innovative spirit global and help other nations achieve some of these sorts of breakthroughs.

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