While world leaders surprised G20 summit watchers by issuing, a day earlier than expected, a joint statement that touched on the war in Ukraine, India’s finance minister was taking the floor to talk up her country’s role in making progress on a different issue: Aid.
India “has walked the talk,” said the finance minister, Nirmala Sitharaman.
She rattled off a list of economic and development finance achievements, starting with reforms to the Multilateral Development Banks, or M.D.B.s, tasked with driving economic development in poorer countries. The measures, she said, were intended to make the banks “bigger, better and more effective.”
The M.D.B.s, which include the World Bank, the BRICS’ own New Development Bank and a dozen others, have been under review by an independent “expert group” appointed by India and led by Larry Summers, the former president of Harvard, and N.K. Singh, an Indian economist.
The review found that the current funding — at $192 billion for 2022 — was now equivalent to just two-thirds of what it was during the financial crisis and a fraction of the world’s developing countries’ GDP. The banks would need deeper pockets, Mr. Summers and Mr. Singh wrote, along with a greater focus on cross-border challenges like climate change and pandemics.
Ms. Sitharaman announced that one reform alone, of the banks’ “capital adequacy frameworks,” would open up an additional $200 billion in lending to the Global South.
She listed seven more achievements, including the expansion of India’s digital-public infrastructure to other countries via a two-year financial-inclusion plan — again focused on the Global South.
There also was a notable shift on climate finance. The United States, the European Union and other wealthy countries had pledged more than a decade ago to mobilize $100 billion per year in financing to help poorer countries shift to clean energy and adapt to future climate risks. But they have fallen short and sidestepped questions about the fund.
On Saturday, however, Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India made a statement that redirected the group’s attention from climate finance to the development of biofuels to help reduce emissions. His remarks also seemed to cast doubt on his country’s commitment to the benefits of carbon-credit trading, though Indian officials later clarified that India remains committed to it.
To finish the day, several heads of government unveiled a more tangible development. The India-Middle-East-Europe Economic Corridor — announced by President Biden, Mr. Modi and the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman — would run oil, gas and other forms of energy from the Persian Gulf through countries north, south, east and west with the exception of Iran. However, the project lacked key details, including a time frame.