G20’s New Delhi Summit: Environmental Sustainability Goals

The G20 New Delhi Summit emerged as a significant and noteworthy forum that engaged with a wide spectrum of topics. These ranged from political and economic considerations to the tapestry of socio-cultural issues. Yet, it was the realm of environmental politics that took center stage, commanding attention and deliberation.

By Orkhan Huseynli

How G20’s New Delhi Summit Charted the Course for Global Environmental Stewardship

The G20 Leaders’ Declaration, officially ratified on September 9, 2023, stands as a testament to the collective agreement forged on an array of pressing environmental challenges.

These encompassed the pursuit of sustainable development goals, a resolute commitment to climate finance, the imperative of decarbonization, the switching to cleaner and more sustainable energy sources, the preservation and nurturing of ecosystems, the promotion of a resilient ocean-based economy, the concerted battle against plastic pollution, the strategic focus on disaster risk reduction, and the fortification of infrastructure resilience.

This call to action was underscored by the complexities faced during the earlier G20 Energy Ministers’ meeting earlier in the year.

Global Concerns on Climate Change and Energy Transition

G20's New Delhi Summit: G20 Leaders' Declaration

The New Delhi Summit succeeded in securing a landmark agreement: the commitment to “pursue and encourage efforts to triple global renewable energy capacity by 2030”.

This substantial commitment aligns seamlessly with the recommendations proffered by the International Energy Agency (IEA). The essence of this commitment underscores the dire necessity of mobilizing a substantial annual sum, amounting to at least $4 trillion by 2030. A pronounced emphasis is placed on the redirection of investments, channeled primarily towards the developing and emerging economies that are in dire need of sustainable energy infrastructure.

The continent of Africa, for instance, which currently receives a meager 2-3% of global clean energy investment annually, stands to reap immense benefits from this ambitious undertaking.

Contained within the declaration is an unequivocal commitment to expedite actions to confront environmental crises, with a particular focus on the formidable challenge posed by climate change.

Central to this commitment is support for the Paris Agreement and its ambitious temperature targets. A noteworthy inclusion is the incorporation of the principle of common but differentiated responsibilities (CBDR), a point of contention for certain developed G20 nations in prior United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) events, such as discussions surrounding the loss and damage fund.

Equally important is the focus placed on achieving an equitable energy transition—one that artfully intertwines the complex threads of decarbonization with steadfast efforts to uplift socio-economic equality.

The declaration lucidly articulates the substantial macroeconomic costs linked to the physical manifestations of climate change, both at the aggregate global level and the national tiers. It underscores, with gravitas, that the costs incurred due to inaction far outweigh those associated with orderly and equitable energy switching.

This resonates profoundly with the understanding that a just energy shift possesses the latent potential to enhance employment opportunities, uplift livelihoods, and bolster economic resilience. The declaration reiterates with unwavering resolve that no nation should find itself cornered into a dilemma where it must choose between eradicating poverty and discharging its solemn duty as an environmental steward.

The declared commitment is underpinned by the unwavering intent to embrace development models that ardently prioritize sustainability, inclusivity, and equitable switching, with an ironclad pledge to leave no one marginalized or forsaken.

Despite the substance of these commitments, certain environmental groups have voiced their concerns regarding the absence of robust agreements concerning specific nuances of the energy transition.

The text’s treatment of the imperative to double energy efficiency improvements by 2030 has been deemed somewhat nebulous. Moreover, the stance on fossil fuels, with particular emphasis on coal, has been perceived as tentative and lacking the requisite strength.

While the document calls for the “phasing down” of unabated coal power, it notably refrains from directly addressing concerns associated with oil and gas. In addition, the document alludes to the necessity for “similar ambition” in scaling up carbon removal technologies, a point that has sparked debate, as some advocate for this as a potential alternative to a full-throated embrace of renewable energy solutions.

G20's New Delhi Summit - Huge wind turbines on a dry landscape
Photo by Rabih Shasha on Unsplash

Nature Conservation

On the front of nature conservation, the summit did not yield new groundbreaking agreements but instead reinforced the existing commitments firmly anchored within the framework of the UN Biodiversity Treaty. This includes a resolute commitment to enhance the rigor of data collection and reporting mechanisms relevant to the preservation of the natural world.

Nevertheless, concerns have arisen regarding the readiness and willingness of G20 member nations to proactively institute and enforce corporate disclosures specifically related to nature—a requirement stipulated by the UN treaty.

A standout achievement of the summit, one that has garnered substantial acclaim, is the “Chennai high-level principles on a sustainable and resilient blue economy”.

These principles delve into a comprehensive approach, addressing the various sources of coastal and marine pollution. This encompassing scope extends to encompass plastics, air pollutants, and a gamut of persistent substances emanating from the maritime sector.

The declaration crystallizes an unwavering and resolute dedication to safeguarding the delicate equilibrium of marine ecosystems. It resonates deeply with the recognition of the indispensable role played by our oceans in global climate regulation. Above all, it heralds a forward-looking approach—one that underscores the pressing imperative of responsible resource management.

This approach posits that the prevention of damage to our critical oceanic resources should stand as the vanguard of our environmental efforts, preempting the need for reactive cleanup measures.

Moreover, the “Gandhinagar implementation road map for land reclamation” emerges as a significant and laudable endeavor.

This roadmap artfully navigates the terrain of restoring landscapes marred by the scourge of forest fires and the unrelenting march of mining activities. In doing so, it reinforces the foundational pillars of the G20 Global Land Initiative. This project, articulated with precision, beckons upon nations to voluntarily undertake the arduous yet indispensable task of effectively restoring lands devastated by forest fires.

The commitment, with its horizon set for the year 2030, stands as a noble undertaking. However, it is an endeavor that warrants vigilant oversight to ensure its triumphant execution, for in its successful realization lies the promise of ecological rejuvenation.

G20's New Delhi Summit - Red Panda
Red Panda
Photo by Jessica Weiller on Unsplash

Other Pertinent Issues

In a world that continues to grapple with the surge in post-pandemic tourism, as countries graciously extend their hospitality to tourists in search of respite, the “Goa road map for tourism” captures a crucial facet of our contemporary landscape.

This roadmap lucidly underscores the pressing need for sustainable tourism practices—practices that reverberate with the echo of responsible stewardship. It advocates for the nurturing of green tourism initiatives, the judicious integration of digitalization, the cultivation of skill development programs, the robust support of tourism micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, and the astute management of destinations.

This recognition stands in perfect alignment with the growing realization of the initial role that sustainable tourism plays in the preservation and conservation of our natural and cultural heritage.

Finally, the launch of the Resource Efficiency and Circular Economy Industry Coalition constitutes a resounding endorsement of the critical importance accorded to the realm of sound waste management practices.

The coalition, in the embodiment of its commitment, pledges to substantially curtail the generation of waste by the pivotal year 2030. It accentuates, with undeniable significance, the imperative of zero-waste initiatives. This underlines the collective recognition within the G20 of the compelling need to orchestrate a transition towards more sustainable and harmonious patterns of consumption and production.

In summation, the G20 New Delhi Declaration stands as a monument to the collective commitment exhibited by nations to confront the myriad environmental challenges that loom large.

It positions climate change, biodiversity preservation, and the reduction of disaster risk at the forefront of global priorities. Moreover, it possesses the sagacity to acknowledge the far-reaching economic implications entailed by these environmental imperatives. The inclusion of principles such as common but differentiated responsibilities embodies a concerted effort to strike an equilibrium of responsibility among nations in addressing the exigencies of our shared global environment.

Nonetheless, the path ahead is one that requires resolute commitment to effective implementation, unwavering dedication to the continuation of dialogues, and a united front in translating promises into tangible environmental enhancements on a global scale.

The true elegance of these commitments lies not merely in their articulation but in their diligent execution—a profound testament to the shared responsibility of nations in safeguarding our planet for both present and future generations.


  1. https://www.consilium.europa.eu/media/66739/g20-new-delhi-leaders-declaration.pdf
  2. https://www.g20.org/en/media-resources/press-releases/july-2023/fourth-etwg/
  3. https://www.iea.org/reports/recommendations-of-the-global-commission-on-people-centred-clean-energy-transitions
  4. https://www.un.org/en/climatechange/cop27
  5. https://www.un.org/en/observances/biological-diversity-day/convention
  6. https://g20land.org/
  7. https://www.e-unwto.org/doi/epdf/10.18111/9789284424443
  8. https://www.g20.org/content/dam/gtwenty/gtwenty_new/document/G20_ECSWG-Resource_Efficiency_and _Circular_Economy_Industry_Coalition.pdf

About the Author

Orkhan Huseynli is a freelance science and environmental writer. His academic journey has encompassed fields such as Public Administration, Management, and Economics, culminating in a master’s degree in Environmental Economics and a Ph.D. specialization in Industrial Management.

Orkhan Huseynli

Transitioning from a career in IT, Orkhan is now dedicated to pursuing his passion for science and popular science writing. Orkhan is keen to contribute his writing skills to the world of articles and essays, covering topics like Climate Change, Biodiversity, Environmental Economics, Ecology, Paleoscience, and Environmental Politics.

For him, the prospect of writing for scientific outlets represents a chance to share his knowledge and raise awareness about crucial scientific advancements, fulfilling his aspiration to engage with a broader readership.

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