Modi calls for focus on ‘most vulnerable citizens’ at G20 meet as India pushes for green finance

India’s prime minister Narendra Modi has called for G20 nations to focus on the world‘s “most vulnerable citizens” as the country continues to push for more finances to fund clean energy.

The two-day G20 meeting, taking place on the first anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine war, is likely to be dominated by the conflict and its impact on the global economy.

Mr Modi significantly made no specific mention of the conflict in his address to G20 finance ministers and central bank governors at the meeting on the outskirts of India’s Bengaluru city on Friday.

India has been attempting to placate the West, which is urging the country to be strict with Russia, while also trying to maintain its close ties to Moscow.

The prime minister said the pandemic and “rising geopolitical tensions” had led to unsustainable debt levels, disruptions to global supply chains and threats to food and energy security.

“I would urge that your discussions should focus on the most vulnerable citizens of the world,” he said, adding that stability, confidence and growth had to be brought back to the world economy.

India, which holds the current G20 presidency, is expected to propose forming an expert G20 group to look into reforms at the World Bank and increase the institution’s lending capacity for climate financing in middle- and low-income countries, three sources told Reuters.

“India is writing a proposal to form a group for reforms to World Bank,” one of the sources told the news agency, requesting anonymity as they were not authorised to speak to media.

“Democratisation of World Bank has been a long-term line pursued by India and other countries. Differential financing terms for least developed and developing countries is desirable,” a second source was quoted as saying.

Notably, the Asian giant’s neighbours – Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Pakistan – have been seeking a bailout from another multilateral agency, the International Monetary Fund, due to the economic downturn.

Earlier, India’s chief economic adviser said reforms at multilateral development banks would be at the top of the agenda for discussion at one of the G20 meetings.

The development comes as the US nominated Indian-American Ajay Banga to succeed David Malpass as World Bank chief amid a rising push for the multilateral lender to prioritise green finance.

India’s finance minister held a discussion with Mr Malpass earlier on Wednesday about addressing debt vulnerabilities.

Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the Friday meeting, Achim Steiner, administrator of the UN Development Programme, dubbed the failure of developed countries to deliver on a decade-old commitment to pay $100bn in annual climate financing to developing nations a “travesty”.

Mr Steiner urged G20 nations to decide on restructuring debt and take haircuts as 52 countries in the developing world are close to either facing distress or defaults.