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G20 Summit: EU thanks PM Modi; draws attention to global health emergency

It is the start of India’s G20 Presidency. Prime Minister Modi has asked a question: can the G20 go further? Can we shift our fundamental mindset for the benefit of all humanity? I believe we can. And that is why we are here, to go beyond the zero-sum mindset, to work towards mutual understanding and to make the world a fairer place for everyone, no matter where they live. So I would like first to thank Prime Minister Modi and India for their leadership over the past year, and for their priorities. I look forward to welcoming the African Union as a permanent member of the G20, and I am proud that the EU reacted immediately in a positive way to support this candidature.

As we speak, Russia continues to attack the sovereign nation of Ukraine, killing people, destroying its cities. This is why the EU will continue to strongly back Ukraine and to pile pressure on Russia. The Kremlin’s war is also unravelling lives far beyond Ukraine, including right here in South Asia. Over 250 million people face acute food insecurity worldwide. And by deliberately attacking Ukrainian ports, the Kremlin is depriving them of the food they desperately need. It is scandalous that Russia, after terminating the Black Sea Initiative, is blocking and attacking Ukrainian sea ports. This must stop. Ships with grain must have safe access through the Black Sea. Antonio Guterres’ United Nations initiative had delivered 30 to 32 million tonnes to the markets, especially to developing countries. The Kremlin’s offer of 1 million tonnes of grain to Africa is therefore absolutely cynical. On our side, the EU is stepping up to provide alternative export routes through our solidarity lanes, which so far have delivered 41 million tonnes of grains.

We are also focusing on the existential challenge of climate change. Floods, droughts and record-high temperatures are a threat to humanity’s survival. Climate change spares no one. Global warming will hit each one of us. Emissions must peak by 2025 to limit global warming to 1.5 degrees. So we need to act together to reach climate neutrality by 2050. In the EU, we have agreed on a package of ambitious measures on climate and energy, and this sets us on a clear path for climate neutrality by 2050. Here at the G20, we want to send a strong message ahead of the COP28 in Dubai, that, together as one global community, we need to put into action sustainable, inclusive and just transitions. Just transition means that it benefits each citizen worldwide, where rights and freedoms are protected and embraced. I sincerely believe the G20 is the right forum to drive forward the green transition worldwide. Together, we must be ambitious, and that means tripling renewable energy capacity and doubling energy efficiency by 2030. Vulnerable economies should not have to choose between going green and reducing poverty. We will meet our $100 billion goal on climate funds for the first time this year. The EU has delivered its share and we welcome that others now appear ready to do so. Together we should reach this goal every year. We need to do more to make our climate transition fairer.

Today’s financial system is not inclusive. Many parts of the world are left out, without a voice. We need to change this. That’s why we must tackle the weaknesses in the international system. For the EU, the Paris Agreement and the Sustainable Development Goals are a beacon, and both require money. To reach our ambitious goals, we need ambitious financing and strong partnerships between governments and the private sector. The international community has delivered on the goal of rechannelling $100 billion of special drawing rights. This is a good and interesting example of countries binding together to support the most vulnerable. But I think we need more and we need to encourage others to do their part. Multilateral development banks and international financial institutions need to reform to better address these challenges, and this will require a massive jolt in financing. Sooner or later, we will have to increase the capacity of the banks to support, to invest, to assist the speed of progress on climate funds and help to achieve our sustainable development goals. Many developing countries are suffering under a mountain of debt and we must step up the common framework which these countries need.

Finally, a word on global health. We need to be ready for the next global health emergency. Multilateral coordination is the gold standard in tackling these massive and unpredictable challenges. I remember that two years ago together with Dr Tedros, we made the proposal to launch negotiations for an international treaty. We need to deliver on this and step up our efforts. We sent this to the World Health Organisation, and I am confident that this G20 meeting will be the occasion to express support for a successful negotiation that will take place next May.

The European Union is a constructive and reliable partner to the international community. We are a strong voice for more multilateralism and more cooperation between nations. This G20 comes at a critical time for multilateralism and for the future of the world. These are challenging times.

Trust is the pillar of multilateralism. I sincerely hope that these two days will help to build more trust. Mahatma Gandhi once said, ‘our ability to reach unity in diversity will be the beauty and the test of our civilisation’. Let’s be inspired by those words. You can count on the EU. Consilium.europa.eu

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