One Earth Theme and G-20 grim realities

‘One Earth’ is A Great Theme for G-20, But How Do We Take it Forward in the Middle of Grim Realities?

One Earth G20

India has done well to select ‘One Earth, One Family, One Future’ as the theme of the year of India’s presidency of G-20. In fact one can go a step further and say that if only this is accepted in the right spirit, then this concept of ‘one earth one family’ is what the world the needs more than anything else.

Unfortunately, however, the present day world is far away from this precept and this year has drifted further away from this than at any other recent time. In particular the Ukraine conflict and the persistent efforts of the USA and its allies to isolate and corner Russia to an almost unprecedented extent have left the world more divided and dangerous compared to any other recent times. This was also reflected in the recently concluded G-20 summit at Bali where the dividing line was very visible. A world in which the most powerful countries are bent on imposing sanctions and isolating others is not at all conducive for increasing cooperation on resolving urgent environmental, disaster, health and economic issues.

It is in these difficult situations that the G-20 presidency is being passed to India. The statement of India’s Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi that these are not times for war has been well-received and has been echoed in the Bali declaration at the end of the recent G-20 Summit. However just as war and its perpetrators are to be criticized, similarly those who incite, conspire and create conditions in which war/invasion become most likely should also be criticized strongly. Who is most responsible for the conflict related ruin of several countries such as Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, Syria and Ukraine? An honest search for answer to this question will reveal that serious mistakes of many actors are involved but the richest and most powerful countries led by the USA face the bulk of the blame. Who will rein in the most powerful countries and move them away from this path of destruction? This is a tall order, when no one even dares to speak the truth in their face. When the recent case of sabotage to seriously harm the Nord Stream pipelines became big news, countries of Europe who pride themselves as champions of freedom of expression more or less took this stand—sorry, we cannot speak the truth as this will harm our security, even though European interests were harmed!

The rich countries and particularly the most privileged countries continue to be highly elusive about their commitments to help the global south on environmental and disaster issues. Regarding food and farming, the governments of the richest countries particularly the USA are one with their multinational corporations to help in their aim of dominating seeds, farming and food systems, thereby inflicting more ecological ruin and higher GHG emissions. As far as trade, investment, currency and debt are concerned, the richest countries are again persisting with the trend of continuing the pursuit of their own privileged position, advantages and control. In such a situation of international inequalities, injustices and conflicts, how far can genuine justice-based peace be promoted and how can this be used for promoting the most crucial objectives of protecting environment and eliminating weapons of mass destruction?

It may be closer to reality to say that while the realization of the ideal of ‘one earth, one family, one future’ may still be far away, nevertheless some important steps can be taken to move closer to this ideal. Again looking at the brighter side, India in its year of G-20 presidency is in a better position than most other countries to play such a role. Both the turn of circumstances as well as some recent successes of its diplomacy have resulted in a situation of a wider than usual role for India in international affairs. Led by the principle of ‘One Earth’, India must tread carefully, avoiding possible traps, for achieving a limited agenda of peace, environment protection and justice which is within its grasp, without trying to over-reach.

One possibility is to involve some other more or less neutral countries as well to together work for a ceasefire very soon in the Ukraine conflict, leaving more contentious issues like territory to be resolved later. Another contribution that should be attempted is to resolve some of the conflicts in Africa, particularly in countries which are also listed as hunger hot-spots. This will be facilitated if the African Union is included in G-20. The G-20 can also start a new food facility which will have food stocks to be rushed as emergency food help in the areas of greatest need. Thirdly, an agenda of obligations of richest countries for environment and disaster protection, debt relief and for a trade and development regime more favorable for global south should be drawn carefully and taken to the center of global discourse during the next year.

Such a wider role for India will be helped if in domestic policy India takes overdue steps for better protection of human rights and minority rights, for more equality based socio-economic policies, for better protection of democratic norms and for higher resistance to onslaughts of richest countries and their multinational companies for domination, particularly in the more crucial areas like GM crops and seeds.

Bharat Dogra is Honorary Convener, Campaign to Save Earth Now. His recent books include Planet in Peril, Protecting Earth for Children and Man over Machine.


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