Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated the G20 summit on Saturday in New Delhi by inviting the African Union, represented by its president, Azali Assoumani, President of the Comoros, to join the group’s leaders as a permanent member.
The African Union, which comprises 55 member states, will have the same status as the European Union, which was the only regional bloc with full membership in the G20.
The draft declaration stated, “We welcome the African Union as a permanent member of the G20, and we believe that including the African Union in the group will contribute significantly to confronting the global challenges of our time,” according to Reuters.
Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin were absent from the opening of the two-day summit. The group includes 19 countries and the European Union. It represents the largest economies in the world and contributes to more than 85% of its total output and 75% of its trade.
The summit will witness the signing of several important agreements, such as an agreement on a major sea and rail transport project that aims to link India to Europe via the Middle East.
During his speech, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called for a joint leadership to tackle the climate crisis, global conflicts, and poverty. “If we are truly a global family, today we resemble a dysfunctional family,” Guterres said.
“Divisions are increasing, tensions are flaring, and trust is eroding, and all of them together raise the specter of fragmentation and eventual confrontation.” Guterres stated, adding that the global financial structure is outdated, dysfunctional, and unfair and requires structural reform.
In addition, Guterres said that the G20 is responsible for 80% of global emissions and that “half measures will not prevent complete climate collapse.”
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi participated on Saturday in the opening session of the summit. During his speech, Al-Sisi welcomed the African Union joining the group.
The president said that achieving the group’s common goals amid the unprecedented challenges facing the world today requires a comprehensive perspective to formulate future arrangements centered on the multilateral system, based on the purposes of the United Nations Charter and the rules of international law, and maximizing the role of international institutions in responding effectively to crises and challenges.
He pointed out that this highlights the role of the G20, especially in terms of addressing imbalances in the global financial structure and developing international financing institutions while creating sustainable solutions to the structural problems facing developing countries, especially with regard to the growing debt problem.
Al-Sisi said: “The diminishing usefulness of development aid, compared to the increasing conditions for obtaining it, and the widening financing gap to achieve sustainable development and a just transition to a low-carbon economy.”
The president continued that, within the framework of his presidency of the Steering Committee of Heads of State and Government of the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD), he set, in consultation with his “African brothers”, specific goals to support the countries of the continent, focusing on advancing continental economic integration, accelerating the implementation of the African development agenda, and activating the continental free trade agreement.
He also said that he mobilized resources for priority areas related to infrastructure, energy, communications, and food security, as well as addressed the continent’s debt crisis, as all of this enhances the continent’s capabilities to contribute to the global system, politically and economically, in order to achieve stability and face global challenges.
Al-Sisi reviewed what he described as “the success of Egypt’s presidency of the 27th session of the Climate Conference” in restoring balance to the international climate agenda, especially by including the idea of a just transition to the green economy and calling for the establishment of a fund to face climate losses and damages.
He explained that in light of the seriousness of the challenge posed by climate change and the global consensus on the importance of overcoming that challenge, each party must assume its responsibilities on the basis of the principles of “common but differentiated responsibility” and “fairness,” and implement the decisions that have been adopted. Otherwise, trust will be dissipated, and the multilateral work system will collapse.
Regarding efforts to contain the energy crisis, Al-Sisi said that Egypt announced on the sidelines of the Sharm El-Sheikh conference the launch of an international forum to finance green hydrogen projects as the fuel of the future, in addition to the steps it is taking to make Egypt a regional center for energy trade.
The president indicated that Egypt recently announced its readiness to host a global center for grain storage and trading in cooperation with development partners, within the framework of integration with joint efforts to address this challenge, and in support of the multilateral international action system.