Sustainability and Health: G7 Agenda for the Future
The G7 summit for this year took place from 11th to 13th June 2021, amidst the on-going global pandemic and the three-day event was attended by the world’s most influential nations. India was invited this year as a “special” invitee to the conference and indeed, there couldn’t be a year more relevant for this as India has played a unique role, especially as a developing country, in the global fight against COVID-19 pandemic.
This year, the UK took on the Presidency of the G7, the group of countries which are all bound by shared values as open, democratic and outward-looking societies. And so, the largest democracy which opened its doors to the world long back and has consistently become more outward-looking in its trade policies, is a natural ally to these seven powerful nations. Throwing light at the country’s multi-pronged efforts to combat the pandemic both internally and externally, Prime Minister Narendra Modi participated virtually in three outreach sessions of this summit – ‘Building Back Stronger - Health‘, ‘Building Back Greener: Climate and Nature’and ‘Building Back Together – Open Societies and Economies.’
The larger theme of the 47th Summit revolved around developing a response to the COVID-19 pandemic and rebuilding the post-pandemic world. The member states pledged to support the weaker nations in these unprecedented times and discussed strategies to avoid such crises in the future. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson called for the G7 to work on a global approach to pandemics to ensure an equal distribution of COVID-19 vaccines and to prevent future pandemics.
India has always believed in the ideal of helping thy neighbor and even during the worst of situations internally, it fulfilled its global commitments and delivered vaccines as well as other COVID-19 related supplies to other countries. With its manufacturing capacities, India will clearly play a key role in the building back process. India is committed to studying Mr. Biden`s global infrastructure initiative proposal 'Build Back Better,' which was announced at the G7 summit.
India advocated global solidarity with open democratic societies to tackle challenges like health, climate change, and economic recovery. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's message of worldwide unity was well received at the Outreach Sessions of the Summit, which reaffirmed the need to embrace "values that bind us together", like respect for international rules and norms. Prime Minister further recalled that democracy and freedom were a part of India's civilizational ethos. He stressed the need to ensure that cyberspace remains an avenue for advancing democratic values and not of subverting them.
During the ‘Building Back Stronger - Health‘ session on Day 1, PM Modi proposed a “One World, One Earth” approach, under which he highlighted the need for collaborative action on global issues. To further streamline their cooperation on global health, the leaders also signed the Carbis Bay Declaration, a landmark global health declaration aimed at preventing future pandemics. With its key role in the developing world, especially after the onset of COVID-19, India remains an important player in fulfilling the pledges of the declaration.
Arguing for a closer cooperation on expediting vaccine production and distribution across the developing world, Prime Minister Modi also sought “strong support” from the G7 countries for the joint India-South Africa proposal for a TRIPs (Intellectual Property Rights) waiver at the WTO for coronavirus-related medicines and vaccines.
In his second session called ‘Building Back Greener: Climate and Nature’, PM Modi highlighted that the planet's atmosphere, biodiversity and oceans can't be protected by countries acting in silos and called for collective action on climate change. He also advocated the adoption of a holistic approach towards climate change that covers all dimensions of the problem – mitigation, adaptation, technology transfer, climate financing, equity, climate justice, and lifestyle change. Speaking about India’s unwavering commitment to climate action, he mentioned the efforts of the Indian Railways to achieve ‘Net Zero Emissions’ by 2030. He stressed that India is the only G-20 country on track to meet its Paris treaty commitments. He also took note of the increasing effectiveness of the two major global initiatives nurtured by India – the Coalition for Disaster Resilient Infrastructure and the International Solar Alliance, in building a greener economy.
Following the session on ‘Building Back Together – Open Societies and Economies’, the G7 members and guest countries, including India, signed a joint statement to adopt the values of “freedom of expression, both online and offline, as a freedom that safeguards democracy and helps people live free from fear and oppression”.
Global discussions have had a history of leading the world towards better future and India firmly believes in the power of dialogue in solving the world’s most strenuous modern issues. As the world struggles with the continuing health crisis, it is of utmost importance that world leaders jointly strategise to contain the inevitable after-shocks of the pandemic and bring the world out of the pandemic-induced slumps.