Addressing inequality in the world will be at the centre of Brazil’s presidency of the G-20, said its President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva, a day after ‘symbolically’ being handed the ceremonial gavel by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on September 10. Brazil will formally take over the Presidency in November, after PM Modi holds a virtual summit of G-20 leaders to follow up on decisions taken over the weekend in the New Delhi Declaration.
Speaking to journalists on September 11, Mr. Lula said that among the priorities for his government, apart from inequality, are the energy transition, especially the development of ethanol-based fuel that Brazil has championed, the reform of multilateral banks and the expansion of the UN Security Council. Like the Indian Presidency, Mr. Lula said Brazil would take G-20 meetings to “many Brazilian cities”, “democratise” the G-20 and make it popular amongst civil society.
“It is a lot of responsibility for Brazil to host the G-20 Summit next year. We will put the inequality issue as the core issue for the next G-20 process… inequalities of gender, race, education. We have to build an understanding that the world needs more balance in terms of the wealth distribution that is being produced,” said Mr. Lula, who belongs to the socialist left-wing ‘Workers Party’ and was re-elected President this year, after he stepped down in 2010.
When asked by The Hindu about how much Brazil had budgeted for the G-20 summit and how it compared to India, Mr. Lula said that it didn’t matter how much money was “spent”, but whether it was “invested” for the betterment of the country. He praised India’s initiative at the G-20 for the International Biofuel Alliance, which includes India, Brazil, the United States and other countries, as an investment for the future that he would take forward.
“Brazil has extraordinary potential in the production of clean energy. It has a lot to teach to the other countries and that’s why we want to share what we have capacity for so that they can produce it in their own respective countries,” Mr. Lula continued, speaking about Brazil’s pioneering of ethanol-based bio-fuel, which is mandatorily blended with gasoline for all automobile use in the country.
Mr. Lula added that he hopes that the Ukraine war, which nearly led to consensus being blocked at the Delhi Summit, would be over by the time Brazil hosts its G20 summit in November 2024, and that both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, who skipped coming to Delhi, would attend the next summit.
Walking back comments he made earlier about Mr. Putin being free to visit Brazil anytime, despite Brazil being a signatory to the Rome Statute that empowers the International Criminal Court, Mr. Lula said it was “up to the Brazilian judiciary” to decide whether to execute the ICC warrant against Mr. Putin for alleged war crimes in Ukraine. However, given that Russia, China and India are all not signatories to the Rome Statute, and the US rescinded its accession to the ICC, Brazil too must review its decision to accede as well, he added.
Mr. Lula said his presidency would also see a robust debate on permanent membership of the UN Security Council. In his previous term as President, Mr. Lula, former PM Manmohan Singh and leaders of Germany and Japan had formed the “G-4” to push for UNSC reforms.
“This is important for us, to change the geography of 1945 (post World War II) and put up a new map of 2024 which is the year when we are going to have the discussion, the G-20 in Brazil,” Mr. Lula told journalists before flying out of India.