As the G20 Leaders’ Summit opens in New Delhi, India, this week global leaders will rally under the Sanskrit mantra of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam,” which translates to “One Earth, One family, One future.”

It is an apt watchword in an era of polycrises, one that calls on G20 leaders across the Global North and Global South to come together to build consensus, collectively address global challenges and effectively steer the world towards inclusive and sustainable growth.

Vast and varied, the G20 represents around 85 per cent of the global GDP, over 75 per cent of global trade and about two-thirds of the world's population — including many southern economies.

Like India.

During its leadership of the G20 this year, India brought a unique outlook on the world to bear on a global agenda dominated by escalating geopolitical tension, the climate emergency, energy security risks, inflation and an emerging debt crisis, and the global setback to gender equality.

Through its presidency, India also highlighted issues that matter for economies of the Global South: digital public infrastructure, entrepreneurship and innovation, climate justice and affordable access to health care.

In one recent series of G20 discussions convened in New Delhi by Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC), the Global Development Network (GDN) and the Indian government's policy think tank NITI Aayog, some of the world’s leading minds on green and sustainable growth for the global economy came together to interrogate issues such as a green development pact, the just energy transition and climate change adaptation, highlighting the interconnected nature of some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

It was a powerful reminder that global issues impact southern countries differently. To tackle these challenges, solutions must be adapted to national contexts, mobilizing and building on global alliances across geographies to deliver the “One Earth, One family, One future” promise.

There is increasing appetite in the Global South to find these solutions with support from Canada. For instance, researchers are targeting agricultural crops like corn in the Philippines and rice in Vietnam to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and enhance women’s livelihoods and leadership, testing private and public sector interventions with smallholder farmers who are part of these large value chains.

In Pakistan’s Soan River basin, a climate hot spot in the Hindu Kush range in the western Himalayas, researchers have developed a solar pump that is allowing farmers contending with the impacts of the climate emergency to access groundwater as deep as 91 metres below. The simple pump could revolutionize several aspects of farming across large areas of Pakistan and other parts of Asia that are fed by mountain glaciers and the snowpack.

Without the majority of the Earth’s population, the transition to a green world will fail. In that scenario, everyone loses, write Julie Delahanty & Kapil Kapoor @IDRC_CRDI @g20org #G20India #2023G20

In Senegal, a leader in solar electricity in West Africa, Canada partnered with universities and a leading solar energy production company, building technical expertise and knowledge for solar energy.

As the G20 leadership gathers this week, the global community must listen.

It must act on southern voices as they speak out on the world’s most pressing challenges. The world needs to hold space for conversations — policy dialogues like the one hosted by IDRC, GDN and NITI Aayog — to help G20 nations understand the intractable challenges they now face.

These challenges cannot be addressed unless we understand them through the perspective of the economies of the Global South, where green energy, for example, isn’t just about diversifying the energy sector and workers’ skill sets — it’s about a just and inclusive transition in which everyone can reap the benefits of sustainable growth.

To build an inclusive and sustainable future for our planet and its people, we must approach issues in the spirit of Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam and act on the recommendations of southern societies who have said loud and clear: We need fair trade, decent jobs, safe and healthy working environments and multilateral climate solutions.

As India hosts the 2023 G20, it will be followed by Brazil in 2024 and South Africa in 2025. This southern troika is bringing its voices to bear on the world — an opportunity and call for the recognition of global southern leadership and a truly global outlook on how challenges are addressed.

Without the majority of the world’s population, the transition to a green world will fail. In that scenario, everyone loses.

Julie Delahanty is the president of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). Kapil Kapoor is the regional director for IDRC in Asia. IDRC shifts research into impact for a more sustainable and inclusive world.