The G20 leaders have agreed a joint declaration, Narendra Modi announced on Saturday, alleviating fears that disagreements over the Russia-Ukraine war would prevent a consensus for the first time.
Speaking at an afternoon session of the G20 summit in Delhi, the Indian prime minister said he had “just got the good news that due to the hard work of our teams and your cooperation, a consensus has been reached on the New Delhi G20 leaders’ summit declaration”.
To loud applause, Modi said the declaration had been officially adopted.
He said it meant this year’s G20 was “the most ambitious in the history of G20. With 112 outcomes and presidency documents, we have more than doubled the substantive work from previous presidencies”.
However, there was a noticeable softening of the language around Russia’s role in the Ukraine war compared to last year. All references to Russia, Russian aggression and Russia’s withdrawal in relation to the war in Ukraine that featured in last year’s joint statement at the G20 summit in Bali were removed.
Instead, the declaration emphasised that states must “refrain from the threat or use of force to seek territorial acquisition” and that “the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons is inadmissible”.
Amitabh Kant, India’s G20 representative, said there was “100% consensus from all countries” on all 83 paragraphs in the declaration.
According to Kant, in order to reach a consensus, there was over 200 hours of “very tough, very ruthless negotiations”. Kant said that Brazil and South Africa, the next two G20 presidents, had played a key role in getting Russia to agree to the language, as well as Indonesia, Turkey and Mexico. A senior EU official said that by Saturday, Russia was “cornered” in the negotiations.
The declaration signifies a major win for India, which holds this year’s G20 presidency. It has been a particularly challenging year for the group, which represents the world’s largest economies, as Russia and China had proved intransigent in discussions around the Ukraine war, climate and energy, derailing attempts for a consensus in previous ministerial meetings.
Until Friday night, there had been no agreement on how to refer to the Ukraine war in the joint statement and the section in the draft document relating to the “geopolitical situation” had remained blank. European countries were keen to use strong language to condemn Russia’s invasion but Russia and China had opposed any reference to the war. The Chinese delegation had also unsuccessfully objected to a reference to the US holding the G20 presidency in 2026.
According to reports, on Saturday morning Indian officials sent a redrafted paragraph relating to the Ukraine conflict to the G20 leaders which was finally accepted by all members.
Among the other issues addressed in the joint statement are agreements around climate financing, global debt, reform of institutions like the World Bank and a new “green development pact” among member states. The declaration also ratified the African Union officially joining G20, after India extended an invite to the group during its presidency.
Kant said the declaration was the “most ambitious document on climate action” so far, with commitments to triple renewable energy capacity globally by 2030 and a statement that developing countries will need $5.9tn (£4.7bn) in funding to achieve their climate targets.
However, there was no new language on the G20’s efforts to move away from fossil fuels, with the member states – which are home to 93% of the world’s operating coal power plants – committing only to a “phase down” of coal.