G20 strives for results, tackles development amidst inequalities

In the backdrop of escalating global inequalities, climate-related crises, and geopolitical turmoil, the Development Working Group convenes to deliberate on social inclusion, with a particular focus on access to water and basic sanitation. Ambassador Mauricio Lyrio, acting as coordinator of the Sherpa Track, underscored the urgency of these challenges and the imperative for effective solutions during the inaugural session. The meeting is scheduled to continue through Wednesday (29) in Salvador, Bahia.

05/27/2024 2:40 PM - Modified a month ago
The meeting commences with a three-day agenda, concluding on Wednesday (29). The next Development Working Group meeting is scheduled for July in Rio de Janeiro. Photo: Diego Mascarenhas/Government of Bahia

"Remar contra a maré," ("Drifting against the tide") remarked Ambassador Mauricio Lyrio, the coordinator of the G20 Brasil Sherpa Track, encapsulating the intricate nature and significance of this week's discussions within the Development Working Group in Salvador, Bahia. The deliberations aim to foster consensus on development and the reduction of social inequality, including the issue of access to water and basic sanitation.

According to data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), a G20 guest organization, approximately 26% of the world's population, or around 2 billion people, lack access to safe drinking water. The situation is even more concerning in terms of access to proper sanitation services, with approximately 46% of the global population, or 3.6 billion people, facing this challenge. These figures surpass the combined population of Africa and Europe.

"We stand at a critical juncture in the sustainable development agenda. In 2020, global inequality experienced its first increase in decades, with the global index rising by 0.7%. If our objective during Brasil's G20 presidency is to reduce inequalities, we are drifting against the tide. Currently, there is a concerning trend of growing international inequality which underscores the imperative for Brasil to prioritize this issue. The challenges are immensely serious and urgent, demanding our full attention in all upcoming negotiations leading up to the ministerial meeting over the next three days," stated Ambassador Lyrio.

The Sherpa Track coordinator underscored the significance of addressing challenges encountered by the Global South, with a focus on class issues, while also acknowledging the G20 Troika, which includes India and South Africa. "Though these crises impact everyone, their effects are not distributed equally. Developing countries bear the brunt, and within them, the poorest segments endure the greatest hardships. As President Lula often asserts, if we were to encapsulate today's global challenges in a single word, it would be 'inequality'," emphasized the ambassador.

Salvador: the Black capital at the heart of Development debates

Salvador, the capital of Bahia, holds immense historical significance in Brasil. As the country's inaugural capital, it is the most predominantly Black city outside of Africa, with over 80% of its population identifying as Black or mixed-race, according to data from the Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics (Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia e Estatística - IBGE). In this context, where class and race intersect to exacerbate social and economic disparities, Bahia, the birthplace of renowned geographer Milton Santos, welcomes delegates from member countries, guest countries, and international organizations.

Delegates were welcomed with a performance of the Orishas dance, symbolizing the traditions of African-rooted religions in Brasil. Photo: Audiovisual/G20
Delegates were welcomed with a performance of the Orishas dance, symbolizing the traditions of African-rooted religions in Brasil. Photo: Audiovisual/G20

In the last century, Santos highlighted the necessity for a more equitable globalization, taking into account the varying levels of development across regions. Today, the capital of Bahia serves as a global platform for the Development Working Group's discussions until Wednesday (29). Representatives from the city and the state have contributed to this initiative.

“We understand that economic development is fundamental and that advancing the productive sector is crucial; however we cannot overlook sustainability. Bahia is an example of successful energy transition; our electricity matrix consists of 93% renewable energy, with 44% coming from wind power. This is a path toward environmental and social justice,” said Bahia’s Deputy Governor Geraldo Júnior. He further emphasized the importance of public policies and trilateral cooperation in the realm of basic sanitation.

Salvador's Mayor Bruno Reis echoed the importance of discussions on sanitation and underscored the role of social participation in these processes. "It is crucial to garner support from all global spheres — local movements, national initiatives, civil society, the private sector, and non-governmental organizations. Meetings like this are pivotal in shaping strategies for global priority objectives and themes, which subsequently have a tangible local impact," the mayor declared.

The WG meeting is taking place at the Centro de Eventos de Salvador. On the 28th, the venue will host a side event organized by Brasil's Ministry of Human Rights and Citizenship (Ministério dos Direitos Humanos e da Cidadania - MDHC), with Minister Sílvio de Almeida in attendance. The sessions will address two key topics: “Data Collection and Management on People Experiencing Homelessness” (Produção e gestão de dados sobre população em situação de rua), engaging national and international statistical institutes and other research bodies; and “Best Practices in Public Policies for Homelessness” (Boas práticas de políticas públicas para população em situação de rua), featuring government entities from member countries and international organizations.

See also