G20 Summit: India-Australia partnership and the planet as One Family

This year, the G20 Leaders’ summit will be organized in India, energized by the theme of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, which means “One Earth, One Family, One Future.”

By Om Prakash Dwivedi

Can the notion of ‘One Earth’ and ‘One Family’ be incorporated into practice by the G20 members while thinking about the future of the planet in times of environmental crisis? Can the G20 as a family work toward the utopian vision of the preservation and promotion of life on this planet? And still, when the world leaders meet at the upcoming summit in Delhi in September 2023, will they be able to recognize and historicize the problems that have enveloped the developing economies for a long time?

The Group of Twenty (G20) is the premier forum for international economic cooperation. Established in the year, 1999, the G20 is essentially vital for the global economy. As mentioned by the Australian government’s department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, “it brings together the world’s major and systemically important economies. Its members account for around 85 percent of global GDP, 75 percent of global trade and 65 percent of the world’s population.”

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This year, the G20 Leaders’ summit will be organized in India, energized by the theme of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam”, which means “One Earth, One Family, One Future.” Drawn from the ancient Sanskrit text, the Maha Upanishad, the Indian government theme for G20 advances and celebrates “the value of all life – human, animal, plant, and microorganisms – and their interconnectedness on the planet Earth and in the wider universe.

It would be of acute interest to see how the G20’s theme is translated into action in Delhi, even to elicit firm calls on the much-pressing concern of environmental justice. Will the powerful economies be willing to discuss this challenge during the summit? Will they accept their responsibility of recognizing the increased vulnerability of many developing nations? And yet still, will they contribute to reviving and strengthening the severely damaged and compromised social infrastructures in these countries?

Apparently, the extraction of all forms of natural resources in developing nations has been aserious challenge within the global environmental discourse. Despite this alarming scenario, powerful economies continue to flex their muscles to curb and silence the environmental discourse as far as the rights, life, and sustainability of the Global South countries are concerned. By evading, even blurring the fundamental questions on climate injustice, the major economies carry on building their empire and health while sacrificing and pushing other regions into everyday existential crises, gasping for breath.   

Seen from the context of planetary crisis, the theme of ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ laid down by the G20 2023 Presidency gains more pertinence. The planet’s health ostensibly depends on our ability to visualize, recognize and accept our collective role in healing its already compromised base, which happen to be natural resources.

The heightened excitement, of course, hinges on the theme of the G20 2023, and it would only render the ailing planet some ray of hope to see some decisive policies emanating from this summit. No wonder then, that the G20 Sherpa, Amitabh Kant maintains that:

“The challenges that we face today can be solved only by working together through hope, harmony and healing and our first concern should be towards those whose need is greatest. Therefore, we need to focus on the Global South as well.”

The world looks up to this summit and the commitments of world leaders with a hope that they would exercise their imagination and collective thinking to perpetuate and legitimize the practice of the planet as a family. It is here that the role of Australia becomes very crucial.

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Recently, we have seen several rounds of discussions between the two countries, including the India-Australia Joint Ministerial Commission meet in 2021 that relaunched the Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement and ‘Virtual Leader’s summit’ in June 2020, culminating in the formulation of a “Comprehensive Strategic Partnership” The challenges that pervade both countries include climate change, energy security, disaster management, and stability of the Indo-Pacific region.

In the last few years, both India and Australia have shown an intensified degree of warmth, and the Australian PM’s tweet on the occasion of India’s Republic Day (2023) only demonstrates that PM Modi enjoys a great rapport with the Australian leaders: “As we share national days, we celebrate the warm spirit of affection our people have long held for each other and the depth of our friendship.”

The Australian PM’s visit to India in March 2023 is also anticipated to channelize concrete plans for cementing the bilateral relationship. Likewise, Australian High Commissioner to India, Barry O’ Farrell avers:

“From a country that has one world, one family initiative, a country that’s determined to address sustainability, and a country that understands as I said, the importance of economic growth to the future of every citizen, not just within India, but across the world, we are happy with that.”

Let’s hope that the two countries can push for a necessity of a strong intervention in the policymaking on environmental issues and existential challenges that face humanity at large, while also restructuring the world as kutumbakam, for when we talk of the future of the earth, we need to hear to the unheard stories of developing nations, or as Amitabh Kant underlines the urgent need to listen to the “Global South.”

Contributing Author: Dr Om Prakash Dwivedi is Head, School of Liberal Arts, Bennett University, Greater Noida, India. He tweets @opdwivedi82

Disclaimer: The author is solely responsible for the views expressed in this article. The opinions and facts are presented solely by him, and neither The Australia Today News nor its partners assume any responsibility for them.