The second G20 Sherpas meeting is progressing at Kumarakom, a scenic village in the Kottayam district, Kerala. Here are nine things you should know about this important meeting happening under the presidency of India.
Who are Sherpas?
Sherpas are personal envoys of the head of state and government of G20 nations. In the current meeting, all G-20 members, except the United States, France and China have sent their sherpas. Russian sherpa, Svetlana Lukash’s, presence is notable among them.
Who is leading?
India’s G20 sherpa Amitabh Kant is leading the deliberations at the sessions. Along with the G20 sherpas, representatives of multilateral bodies and officials from nine guest nations also participate in the sessions that are held behind closed doors. The representatives of specific working groups are also part of discussion.
How many sessions?
The sherpas are participating in four sessions, spread over two days—March 31 and April 1.
Session 1 on March 31 started with opening remarks and an overview given by Indian sherpa Kant. This session discussed “technological transformations”—the discussions and progress made under five working groups, namely digital economy, health, education, tourism and culture. Session 2 deliberated on “accelerated, inclusive and resilient growth and women-led development”. The session also reviewed the progress made so far in agriculture, trade, investment, employment and anti-corruption working groups.
Minister’s welcome and tourism promotion
Minister of state for External Affairs, V. Muraleedharan welcomed the delegates to the Sherpa meeting. In his speech, he announced India’s G20 priorities, also presented stats of meetings held under India’s presidency, and promoted Kerala tourism.
India’s G20 priorities
Green Development, Climate Finance and LiFE; Accelerated, Inclusive and Resilient Growth; Accelerating progress on SDGs; Technological Transformation and Public Digital Infrastructure; Multilateral Institutions of the 21 Century and Women-Led development. These priorities were supported by 124 countries of the Global South at the “Voice of the Global South Summit” that was held in New Delhi on January 2023.
Four months of the Indian G20 presidency
Around 50 G20 meetings were held in 27 different cities. In addition to the Sherpa and Finance Track working groups, the two Ministerial, i.e. the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors (FMCBG) Meeting and the G20 Foreign Ministers Meeting (FMM), saw high-level participation. Notably, 28 Foreign Ministers and 2 Deputy/Vice Foreign Ministers attended the FMM.
Kayal (lake) talks
On the sidelines of the Sherpa meet, many bilateral meetings are also happening. During the lunch break on March 31, these meetings were held on a large houseboat moored on the bank of the lake. The informal setting was deliberately arranged to facilitate talks between sherpas on more “tricky and contentious” issues. Indian sherpa Kant held a bilateral meeting with Russian sherpa on March 30.
India’s convening power
India has made a major effort to ensure that the meetings are not bogged down by the Russia-Ukraine war. In the last G-20 held in Indonesia, G-7 delegates used to walk out in order not to be in the same room as Russia. The sherpa meetings under the Indian presidency so far have not witnessed any walkouts.
Two major side events were held on March 30, the first day of the four-day gathering for the G20 Sherpas meet. One event focused on the critical role of Digital Public Infrastructure (DPI) in improving development outcomes and India’s vast experience in implementing DPI at scale in the past decade. This Side Event was organized by the G20 Secretariat in partnership with NASSCOM, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation (BMGF) and Digital Impact Alliance (DIAL).
The other event deliberated on green development. Several speakers drew attention to how, in the last decade, India has managed to balance economic growth with the advancement of the SDGs and the implementation of some of the most ambitious policies for accelerated climate action. Along with the side events was arranged a “digital public infrastructure experience zone” that showcased the DPIs such as Aadhaar, UPI, DigiLocker and Diksha and the impact they had made on Indian society.