On December 1, 2023, Brazil took over from India in the rotating Presidency of the G20. Brazil’s Presidency will see the G20 leaders convening in Rio de Janeiro in November 2024 to discuss pressing global issues and cooperation to strengthen global governance. The Summit will convene under the slogan of Building a Just World and a Sustainable Planet.
Building on India’s work, Brazil aims to bring the issues of developing countries to the front of the global agenda, as stated by Brazilian Envoy to India, Andre Aranha Correa do Lago. The Brazilian Presidency will focus on three priorities:
- Fighting hunger, poverty, and inequality
- The three dimensions of sustainable development (economic, social and environmental)
- Global governance reform
Like India’s G20 Presidency before, many of the priorities that Brazil will promote on the global stage are issues it faces at home but shares with many developing countries from the Global South. Thus, Brazil is able to amplify Global South interests as it promotes its domestic interests. Brazil’s Presidency is also being seen as an opportunity to champion interests of particular concern for the Latin American region, such as debt restructuring and reform of multilateral and international financial institutions. An indication of this is the Governor of Rio de Janeiro, Cláudio Castro’s, announcement that Paraguay and Uruguay – both members of Mercosur – will be guest nations at the Summit in 2024. The start of the Brazilian Presidency has seen new developments supporting the Rio Agenda, including:
- Two new Task Forces:
- The Bioeconomy Initiative.
- G20 Social
The 2024 Presidency will be supported by the Troika of India, Brazil, and South Africa.
RIO DE JANEIRO AGENDA
Poverty and Inequality: Brazil is the 10th largest economy in the world and largest economy in Latin America, but stands as one of the most unequal countries. Despite its progress in lifting 28 million people out of poverty in the last 15 years, the World Inequality Database estimated that the bottom 50% of population owned only 9.2% of the share of the national income compared to the 58.3% owned by the top 10%. Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva delivered on fighting economic and social inequality between countries, and combatting poverty, at the G20 Summit in New Delhi, highlighting these topics as key issues on the G20 Rio Agenda.
In terms of promoting sustainable development, Brazil launched the Bioeconomy Initiative which draws of the topics of science, technology and innovation, sustainable use of biodiversity, and the role of the bioeconomy to promote social inclusion and the creation of decent employment in all areas. A bioeconomy is an economic system that shifts from a traditional, linear economy based on fossil fuels and finite raw materials to one that uses renewable biological resources to produce goods, services, and energy sustainably and efficiently. Brazil aims to build a common understanding of, and definition of, high-level principles around the concept.
Hunger and food insecurity: Hunger is an important issue on Brazil’s foreign policy agenda. Brazil has a significant presence in the global food system as the largest exporter of beef and second-largest exporter of grain. However, 1 in 10 Brazilians experienced severe food insecurity between 2020 and 2022, while almost a third of the population is considered to be moderately or severely food insecure (lacking regular access to enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life). President Lula has committed to reducing hunger in Brazil in his new Presidential term, and has followed up with domestic government-lead initiatives.
The Task Force for the Alliance Against Hunger and Poverty proposed by the Brazilian Presidency aims to establish a Global Alliance to raise resource and knowledge for implementation of public policies and social technologies that are effective in reducing hunger and poverty around the world. The Alliance is explicitly targeting the setbacks in achieving Sustainable Development Goals 1 and 2, and Brazil aims to highlight its income transfer policies and poverty and inequality programmes, such as Bolsa Familia, as effective solutions. The Alliance will be launched at the 2024 Summit and is open to states outside of the G20. Brazil has promoted the Global Alliance at Committee on World Food Security in Rome and the Global Food Security Summit in London in 2023.
Climate change: Over 60% of the Amazon rainforest, the largest rainforest in the world is in Brazil. This means that the country will be impacted by climate change as well as play a key role in its solutions. Brazil hosted a Summit for the Amazon Cooperation Treaty Organization (ACTO) in Belém in August 2023, which saw Amazonian countries come together to promote greater regional integration in reducing deforestation. Here, the eight South American states that house the Amazon agreed to increase cooperation to stop the destruction of the rainforest, reaffirmed their respect for indigenous rights, and established a scientific body to produce reports on science related to the Amazon rainforest. The Belem Declaration for the ACTO Summit also called for wealthy states to honour their commitments to finance climate change mitigation and sustainable development efforts. At the 2023 G20 Summit in New Delhi, President Lula highlighted Brazil as “a safe haven for people to come, make investments, and turn it into a definitely developed country”.
Brazil’s involvement in the mining and energy industries are a key driver in its investments in climate action. Brazil is one of the top 10 largest oil producers in the world, and will be impacted significantly by calls to transition away from fossil fuels. However, Brazil also has a significant comparative advantage with regards to producing renewable energy, particularly hydroelectric power. It is estimated that Brazil’s capacity to generate at renewable energy is 84%, compared to the world average of 38%. However, making this transition to renewables, which includes scaling up solar and wind power generation, requires significant international investment and cooperation in clean energy technologies. This is underlined by the fact that about 55% of global clean energy investments need to be in emerging and developing economies to achieved the target of keeping global temperatures from rising beyond 1.5°C. Brazil’s experience in transitioning to renewable energy, and linking it to its broader long-term development agenda, will be an important lesson for countries in the Global South. These factors point to financing for sustainable development as being a focus on the G20 agenda in Rio.
In line with this, Brazil announced the creation of a Task Force for the Global Mobilization Against Climate Change at the opening of the 2023 G20 Summit in New Delhi. The Task Force will be responsible for promoting a high-level dialogue among governments, financial institutions, and international organisations to enhance global macroeconomic and financial alignment to implement the goals of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Paris Agreement. The Task Force will work under the Sherpa Track to consolidate the outcomes of the other Working Groups and produce coordinated responses of the Sherpa and Finance Tracks related to the challenges of climate change. The focus of the Task Force is to identify the converging elements for the formulation and implementation of plans targeting economic and sustainable transformation.
Reform of international governance: Brazil seeks to reaffirm the G20 as the premier multilateral forum for a changing international system, and an instrument that builds momentum towards reforming international governance to recover multilateralism. This objective has been framed as implementing a new globalisation that places socio-environmental issues at the centre. Areas of focus include greater participation by emerging countries in the decisions of the World Bank and IMF to address foreign debt of poorest countries, a revitalisation of the WTO and an effective trade dispute settlement system, and the inclusion of new developing countries in the permanent and non-permanent members of the UN Security Council to regain its political strength.
One of the major aims of the Task Force for the Global Mobilization against Climate Change is to convey the commitment of the member-states to restore trust in the international capacity to respond to the climate emergency. This is evident in one of the key goals of the Task Force, which focuses on the alignment of the financial sector to the goals of Paris Agreement by outlining collaborative strategies based on the previous works of the groups of the Finance Track, such as regulatory approaches and voluntary commitments to accelerate the mobilization of resources for sustainable development.
The Brazilian Presidency has also highlighted the need for civil society participation for concrete results and regarded the G20 forum as a opportunity to strengthen global democracy. The G20 Social will feature as a new addition under Brazil’s Presidency aims to enhance international cooperation. It encompasses the activities from the Engagement Groups, initiatives and events carried out alongside the Sherpa and Finance Tracks, and demonstrations by societies from different G20 countries. G20 Social will serve as a place where civil society can organise their demand and participate and contribute to discussions and policy formulations relating to the Summit. These contributions will be presented to leaders the G20 Social Summit, two days before the G20 Leaders’ Summit on 18th and 19th November 2024.
Brazil assumes its Presidency in a time of complex global issues and shifting geopolitical dynamics. Post-COVID 19 recoveries; geopolitical conflict; and cost of living crises occupy the agendas of a many states, and climate change and an increasingly fragmented multilateral institution system dominate their future thinking. At the same time, this period marks a time of growth in the actors participating in the global system, demonstrated by the shifts of manufacturing to Asia and the recent BRICS expansion. In bringing the agenda of developing countries to the global stage, Brazil, with its position of non-alignment, may find itself with the opportunity to bring representation and plurality to discussions on international cooperation.