giovedì, Maggio 30, 2024

THE ROAD TO THE “NEW NORMAL” AND THE ROLE OF THE G20

The Science of Where meets Priyadarshi Dash. Associate Professor at Research and Information System for Developing Countries (RIS), New Delhi, he has 14 years of experience in policy research on trade, investment, infrastructure and fintech issues in the context of G20, IORA, BIMSTEC and Indo-Pacific.

The G20 seems to be the only global forum suitable for discussing global problems, including the countries that, realistically, contribute to forming the landscape of global players at the State level. In your opinion, what are the limits and opportunities of the G20?

It is true that G20 represents a critical mass of the global economy including members of G7, BRICS, and key players of Indo-Pacific. To a reasonable extent, all   major global issues are addressed in this forum regardless of commensurate level of commitment in actions by the member states and/or future monitoring of those actions. The suitability of G20 as a representative global forum lies in its unique composition of membership consisting of advanced economies (traditional global powers) and emerging markets (emerging global powers). That is perhaps the reason for the political legitimacy of G20 among the global community along with its exclusive economic focus that are apparently less contentious and of short- and medium-term commitments on contemporary issues e.g. financial crisis, resource mobilization, taxation, digitalization, etc. The biggest limitation could be the universal recognition by the developing and less developed countries of G20’s widening of ‘development agenda’ without wider membership of these countries and not functioning as a typical legal international organization than a consensus-based entity.

Today the public debate mainly concerns the post-pandemic world. What are, in your opinion, the pillars of the “new” normal that we will live? 

Unlike the new normal after financial crises of the 1990s and 2000s, this ‘new normal’ after COVID-19 pandemic is a painful outcome that the whole world has to live on. This new normal, in many, is a great awakening for the humankind reminding us the very chance of survival and desperation to protect the lives across the world despite economic prosperity. Perhaps the new normal can be characterised as a structural change with three/four strong pillars interacting with each other. Firstly, the dire necessity of preparing for the future pandemics in terms of stepping up of research & development, promoting innovative health solutions, building vaccine development and manufacturing capacity, and public health infrastructure and diagnostics. The second pillar would be strengthening crisis financing and global financial safety net, both enhancing resources of IMF for resolving short-term liquidity problems and for addressing structural vulnerability of relatively less developed countries in extraordinary situations of prolonged lock-downs forcing drastic cut in own revenue mobilization. Thirdly, the consciousness about health sector inspiring grater efforts towards climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts and ensuing energy transition towards clean and renewable energy forms. G20 has a huge stake in this transition to a new world.

Also looking at the agenda of the last G20 in Italy, there are three interrelated themes that I would like to deepen in this interview. The first, which concerns us directly, is the digital transformation which, clearly, is “invading” all areas of our life. How can emerging technologies help overcome suffering, divided and increasingly conflicted world? 

Digitalization in a true sense has enormous transformative potential in our economies and societies. While the pace of digitalization had gathered momentum in the pre-COVID years, the extent of dependence on digital mediums during frequent lock-downs helped these elite technologies to emerge as general purpose technologies with growing number of digital products serving as global public goods. Besides the utility of low-cost e-commerce platforms for delivery of essential goods, medicines, etc, digitalization has a strong ‘empowerment’ component especially for the poor and the less fortunate sections of the society. By offering low-cost mobile telephony with innovative financial inclusion initiatives like AADHAR-enabled Jan Dhan Yojana and PM Mudra Yojana (in India), M-Pesa (in Kenya), etc, digitalization drives has been  remarkably empowering the women, students, farmers, small traders, millions of informal sector labourers, etc across the world.

 The second theme is the ecological transition. It is certainly a question of saving the planet but also of imagining a new type of economy, circular and sustainable. What is your opinion on this? 

This is a sensible proposition. Growing awareness about environmental sustainability and preserving ecological balance is a positive development for the humanity. The theme for the Italian G20 presidency i.e. People, Planet and Prosperity made it upfront in our thinking. Moreover, it is a great opportunity to understand the economic potential of circular economy, ocean economy, blue economy, solar energy, among others. Countries are now aware of the need for allocating higher amount of public resources, attracting private capital and pooling country experiences and best practices into these sectors. New jobs and incomes can be created in the coastal economies and elsewhere along with adherence to healthy protocols of environmental sustainability. Recently held G20 Leaders Summit in Rome and COP26 being held now are platforms to seize this mood of the nations.

The third pillar is the fight against growing inequalities. This, as we well know, is an issue that does not only concern the economic sphere. I am thinking of India and of the poorest countries, but not only, and of how the contrast to inequalities constitutes a condition for the future for a large part of humanity. How can the G20 act on this priority?

It is an irony that inequality has increased globally, more prominently during the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, the ambitions of dominant growth models of modern times that higher growth translating into higher employment and income thereby eliminating poverty and inequality still remains incomplete. Both high economic growth and high inequality have coexisted in many parts of the world. G20 can really bring a great change in this effort. G20 countries can design a mechanism of pooling resources and strengthening development finance in sectors like quality infrastructure, heath & education, fintech, digital education, digitalization and others. These sectors, in turn, would generate new types of activities mostly services and help absorb the ever-growing labour force in India and other countries.

 

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