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“One Earth, One Family, One Future”: Key takeaways from the 2023 New Delhi G20 Summit, with a spotlight on the UK

Article by Poppy Ogier

September 12, 2023

“One Earth, One Family, One Future”: Key takeaways from the 2023 New Delhi G20 Summit, with a spotlight on the UK

The G20 leaders met over the weekend, 9-10th September 2023, and reached a consensus on a joint declaration, but not without differing views on the war in Ukraine and climate change.[1] Despite the compromises needed on these areas, India’s leadership surpassed expectations and solidified Modi’s aim of being a leading voice for the Global South.[2]


Key takeaways from the two-day Summit:


‘Different views and assessments of the situation’

After 300 bilateral meetings, “over 200 hours of non-stop negotiations” and 15 drafts, consensus on the paragraphs concerning Russia and Ukraine were reached in the final G20 communiqué.[3] These paragraphs avoided direct criticism of Russia, instead it focussed on the inadmissibility of nuclear weapons, the agreements that states cannot grab territory by force, and highlighted the human suffering this conflict has caused, and continues to cause. Reference was also made in particular to Turkey’s efforts to broker safe passage for ships moving grain.


‘Creating a more inclusive world’

The weekend’s formal proceedings opened with India welcoming the African Union (AU) as a permanent member of the G20. It will hold a similar position to the European Union (EU) and further signals India’s support for giving a greater voice to the Global South.[4]


President Ramaphosa was a strong advocate for the AU’s membership at the last G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia, until this point South Africa had been the only G20 permanent member from the African continent with the AU being only an invited guest. It will be interesting to follow the changes in the G20 as it becomes more globally balanced, especially with the leadership baton passing to Brazil before South Africa takes over the Presidency in 2025.


‘Impacts of climate change’

There was a recognition of the impacts of climate change and the need to accelerate action on it, with leaders referencing the need to limit warming to 1.5°C by reducing greenhouse gas ‘emissions by 43% by 2030 relative to the 2019 levels.’[5]


Notably, for the first time leaders agreed to triple renewable energy capacity globally by 2030, but through existing targets and policies. They also indicated the need to ‘phase-down’ the use of coal power, noticeably not a ‘phase-out’. On both issues the leaders stopped short of setting goals or laying out plans or pathways to achievement. Additionally, the use of language around coal was a continuation of previous statements, which is unlikely to see a significant shift at the COP28 Summit starting this November in the United Arab Emirates.


India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor (IMEC)

On the sidelines of the Summit, IMEC was announced – a ship-to-rail transit network – by leaders of the United States (US), India and Saudi Arabia. This marks a change in US-Saudi relations, as well as an ambitious counter to China’s Belt and Road Initiative. This modern-day ‘Spice Route’ would connect India, the Middle East and Europe by laying down railway lines and investing in ports, starting in the Middle East and South Asia before Europe. No further details on financing have been announced, but this is a significant move by Biden in ensuring the US’s interests and putting itself forward as an alternative partner to China, especially when taking into account the US elections next year.


The UK at the G20

The major announcement from the UK at the G20 was the Prime Minister’s (PM) commitment to climate aid with the UK set to provide $2 billion to the Green Climate Fund, a global fund committed to combatting climate change.[6] It was announced in a bid to ‘cement’ the UK’s global climate leadership.[7]


On the other hand, PM Rishi Sunak stated net zero cannot be achieved through “hair shirt” policies that would impact British consumers; adding that this was “not the vision of net zero that [he thinks] is the right one for the UK”.[8] The growing discord within the Tory party on climate policies, especially post the Uxbridge byelection, is gathering momentum, as those on the liberal wing of the party urge for the net zero pledges to remain.[9] With party conference a few short weeks away, it will be a key issue to follow to see where the Tory’s climate policies end up. Regardless, Sunak has confirmed he will be attending COP28 in Dubai later this year, which might signal a continued push to ‘cement’ and prioritise the UK’s leadership on climate. This confirmation was particularly taken notice of in light of him not attending the United Nations General Assembly next week – starting Tuesday 19th September.


UK-India relations were on show during the G20. While much was made of Sunak’s Indian heritage, and family connections, it did little to deflect from the UK’s reduced standing on the world stage. It was notable that the scheduled meeting between the two leaders was delayed, then moved from the auspicious surroundings of Modi’s house to a regular conference room.


These shifting dynamics between the two countries may also reflect that India overtook the UK in GDP earlier this year, with the latter going into sixth place and India to fifth in world rankings. A focal point for Sunak’s visit was the potential trade deal with India, the success of which would be a much-needed victory for the PM. In their meeting, both leaders indicated that work would continue towards a Free Trade Agreement (FTA).[10] The hope on the UK’s side is that it could be signed by the end of the year. If this occurred, it would help mitigate some of the fiscal decisions that the Government might have to make. It would also help combat the narrative that Brexit has increasingly isolated the UK internationally.


With a general election looming, the issues discussed at the G20 are key areas that the UK needs to assess and take a position on as the parties make their case to the electorate. This year, both James Cleverly (Foreign Secretary) and David Lammy (Shadow Foreign Secretary) have outlined their plans for the UK’s foreign policy, with multilateralism being a key focus for both.[11]


Looking ahead at these priorities

The three sessions held as part of the G20 Summit reflected the theme “One Earth, One Family, One Future”, with discussions centred around the thematic priorities laid out by India. These are:


  • 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
  • Green development, climate finance & LiFE


Over the course of the autumn, the Foreign Policy Centre will be rolling out a new series with invited experts providing comment on these priorities in turn. There will be a focus on how successful current British policy has been at addressing them, as well as establishing what the UK’s position and ambitions in these areas should be moving forward. The series can be followed here.


[1] G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration, New Delhi, India, 9-10 September 2023,

[2] Atlantic Council experts, Experts react: Did India’s G20 just crack the code for diplomatic consensus?, Atlantic Council, September 2023,

[3] Amitabh Kant, Twitter post, Twitter, September 2023,

[4] Al Jazeera, Indian PM Modi proposes full G20 membership for African Union, August 2023,

[5] G20 New Delhi Leaders’ Declaration, New Delhi, India, 9-10 September 2023,

[6] Green Climate Fund (GCF) ‘is the largest global fund dedicated to help fight climate change’, see here:

[7] Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street and The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak, Prime Minister announces record climate aid commitment as G20 in India concludes, September 2023,

[8] Kiran Stacey, Rishi Sunak tells G20: UK will resist ‘hair shirt’ policies on net zero pledge’ The Guardian, September 2023,

[9] A significant issue at the Uxbridge byelection was the expansion of Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) to outer London areas.

[10] Prime Minister’s Office, 10 Downing Street and The Rt Hon Rishi Sunak MP, PM meeting with Prime Minister Modi of India: 9 September 2023,

[11] Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office and The Rt Hon James Cleverly MP, Multilateral reform: Foreign Secretary’s speech at Chatham House London Conference 2023,, June 2023,; David Lammy MP, David Lammy speech to Chatham House, Labour, January 2023,

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