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Insights on India’s G20 Thematic Priorities and UK Policy Opportunities

Article by Foreign Policy Centre

December 13, 2023

Insights on India’s G20 Thematic Priorities and UK Policy Opportunities

Since the 2023 G20 Summit in September, FPC has been running an interview mini-series that delves into the six thematic priorities set by host country India:


– Multilateral institutions for the 21st century;

Accelerating progress on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs);

Women-led development;

Technological transformation & digital public infrastructure;

Accelerated, inclusive & resilient Growth; and

Green development, climate finance & LiFE.


Below is an overview of the series and the experts that contributed to it, with a focus on what the UK could do to improve their policy-making in these key areas.



UK Policy Opportunities:


As a country that recently left a regional bloc, the UK should ensure it maintains its historic leadership role in international fora. A nuclear powered country, a G7 member, and one with strong ties with increasingly influential states such as Nigeria, Kenya, and South Africa, the UK should focus its role in promoting greater inclusion of these and other countries and support substantial roles for them in the multilateral, democratic ecosystem.”

– Thomas E. Garrett, Community of Democracies


As is well known, the UK’s retreat from spending on [Official Development Assistance] ODA has been noticed and has come at a cost in terms of global credibility, particularly on critical issues such as climate, finance and health. What is less often mentioned is the UK’s retreat as a troop contributor to UN peacekeeping. While the UK’s mission to Mali was no longer sustainable, the fact that it was not replaced by a similar deployment elsewhere has seen the number of UK blue helmeted troops shrink back to pre-2016 levels. It is perhaps here, and in voluntary funding for the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, that the best value for money can be found when contributing to the multilateral system.”

– Fred Carver, Strategy for Humanity



UK Policy Opportunities:


The UK needs to strengthen the means of implementation on the SDGs so that they can be implemented in a way that promotes integration and policy coherence across the framework. This includes meaningfully engaging all stakeholders and to improve accountability and transparency around how SDG gaps and progress are being monitored. As one of the major creditors of multilateral development banks, it is positive to see that the UK has announced its intention to get behind some of the key reforms of the international financial architecture that are being proposed – however, there needs to be clarity on how these will now be taken forward and to ensure that these proposals do not further entrench debt unsustainability of low and middle-income countries. Finally, it is important that the UK’s approach on the SDGs is grounded in the transformative principles of the 2030 Agenda, namely the pledge to Leave No One Behind, universality and human rights.”

– Lilei Chow, Save the Children


“Multi-stakeholder engagement mechanisms are one way of engaging broad support towards SDG implementation. The UK Government should deliver on their 2019 voluntary national review commitment to establish a multi-stakeholder engagement mechanism as a way to mobilise cross-sectoral support. This should be accompanied by specific support to civil society organisations, who play a critical role representing people, holding governments and others to account and supporting communities.”

– Dr Abigael Baldoumas, Policy and advocacy consultant



UK Policy Opportunities:


“There are several important mechanisms the UK Government must have in place in order to see significant progress on the aims of women-led development, mirrored in its current gender equality initiatives. Firstly, such work cannot be siloed into stand-alone programmes, but must be incorporated across the entire Government as priorities in domestic and foreign policy. Secondly, the UK must put its money where its mouth is and provide sufficient resources to achieve these agendas. Such efforts also require close working relationships with feminist civil society, where the input of activists and academics are prioritised and compensated. Lastly, and crucially, the UK must take accountability and recognise its own role in creating the global instability that leads to violence against women and girls. Then and only then can we expect to see progress toward safeguarding women and girls’ rights.”

– Marissa Conway, UNA-UK


“Ambition means not only restoring the aid budget to a level where the UK is able to meaningfully confront the consequences of transnational challenges including rising conflict, climate change and a growing anti-gender movement, it must also change how it funds: providing core, flexible, long-term funding directly to women’s rights organisations on the ground.”

– GAPS (Gender Action for Peace and Security), Civil society network



UK Policy Opportunities:


“Arguably, the most important lesson the UK should learn from recent experience is that the UK’s freedom of action is limited. It can achieve more through cooperating with other states than it can achieve alone. The Government deserves credit for recognising the national priority of having a thriving sector of science and technology, but the boldness of its ambition (for the UK to be a ‘science and technology superpower’ – irrespective of the vagueness of the term) is not matched by the necessary scale of resources. Increasing investment and reducing hyperbole would not be a bad place to start.”

– Dr Joe Devanny, King’s College London


“The UK Government should become the world’s biggest advocate for open source, push open technologies as a differentiator against closed systems which are not transparent and accountable and lead on public interest AI. By becoming the world’s largest advocate for open source, could provide the UK Government with an effective new voice, demonstrating its ongoing ability to be a global leader in forefront technologies.”

– Catherine Stihler, Creative Commons



UK Policy Opportunities:


“On the global stage, the UK Government could position itself as a champion of an inclusive and resilient global economy. It could help to change the narrative so that trade is fully aligned with key UK foreign policy ambitions such as achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and delivering on the Paris Climate Agreement. A UK trade strategy that sets out how this might be done would be a good start.”

– Ruth Bergan, Transform Trade


“One key change that could be transformational to our economy: the purpose of the corporation […] This is a radical agenda for the UK, (though now increasingly mainstream across Europe and some emerging markets): it would mean company directors have a higher duty of care for the public interest; are accountable to communities and workers, not just investors; and act on ‘double materiality’ – namely the risks to the company of human rights abuse and pollution, as well as risks to workers and communities, in the company’s operations and supply chains.”

– Phil Bloomer, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre



UK Policy Opportunities:


“Bodies such as the UK’s Climate Change Council can provide independent expert advice on optimal policy mixes tailored to the specific circumstances of countries. Besides, democratic governments can ask citizens about their policy preferences on climate action: this is what deliberative democracy mechanisms such as citizens’ assemblies on climate are for.”

–  Rafael Jiménez Aybar, Westminster Foundation for Democracy


“The G20 and UK need to consider countries’ historical emissions and the role they have played in the past and current to develop a global carbon-based economy.


The pandemic, war and economic crisis can problematically obscure the playing field of global power structures and inequality, in addition to the unevenness in emissions and burdens of climate change. The debate on loss and damage is important in this regard as it also puts in sharp focus how countries need to act in order to address future loss and damage.”

–  Professor Naho Mirumachi, King’s College London

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