U20 Summit: Challenges and Recommendations

U20 Summit: Challenges and Recommendations
Posted on 18-08-2023

The Urban 20 Pledge: Balancing Achievements and Challenges

Ahmedabad, chosen as the host city for this year's Urban 20 (U20) summit, recently concluded its proceedings with the publication of a set of recommendations for the forthcoming G20 Heads of State and Government Summit in September. Given Gujarat's history of urban development, Ahmedabad's selection as the summit's venue holds significance. This article delves into the U20 summit's context, its purpose, Ahmedabad's hosting, and the recommendations presented.

The Urban 20 (U20) Summit:

Established in 2018, the U20 serves as a platform for discussions among G20 member cities regarding urban challenges. Buenos Aires, Argentina, chaired the inaugural summit. Functioning as a city diplomacy initiative, the U20 aims to cultivate sustained engagement among cities, emphasizing their role in advancing sustainable development. Positioned within the larger G20 framework, the U20 contributes urban perspectives to G20 negotiations, bolstering cities' standing on the global stage.

Ahmedabad's U20 Leadership:

In 2023, Ahmedabad took over as the U20 Chair from Jakarta, Indonesia. Aligned with India's G20 theme of 'One Earth, One Family, One Future,' U20 Ahmedabad underlines the potential of local actions to create global positive outcomes, emphasizing the interconnectedness of our shared world.

Recommendations by U20 Ahmedabad for G20 Summit:

The recommendations call for collaborative efforts to address global climate, economic, and environmental issues at the city level. While climate change takes center stage, the document also highlights equality and justice in urban development. The six-point action plan covers responsible behaviors, water security, climate finance, local culture and economy, urban governance and planning, and digital urban futures. Endorsed by 105 member cities, the recommendations were handed over for presentation at the upcoming G20 meeting.

Contrasting Realities of Ahmedabad:

Ahmedabad showcases both successful infrastructure execution and exclusionary urban governance. As an exemplar of infrastructural development in the Global South, Ahmedabad has effectively employed innovative urban planning policies. However, it also exemplifies exclusionary socio-legal urban governance, facing criticisms for communal segregation and neglect of minority and underprivileged communities. This dichotomy in governance strategies is reflective of broader challenges seen in other Indian cities.

Unaddressed Concerns and Recommendations:

The U20 summit's discussions did not touch on Gujarat's unique Disturbed Areas Act, perpetuating urban exclusion along religio-ethnic lines. Additionally, the communal narratives that hinder inclusive urban development were absent from deliberations. Learning from U20 member countries, especially Argentina and the USA, which have exhibited efficient and equitable urban development, could be beneficial for India.

India's Path Forward:

As the G20 meeting approaches, India has an opportunity to reflect on its urban governance in light of the U20 Communique's vision. To fulfill its U20 promise, India should consider repealing exclusionary laws such as the Disturbed Areas Act and address communal narratives that hinder inclusive urban growth. This alignment is crucial to uphold the U20's agenda of global unity and sustainable urban development.


The U20 Communique's aspirations for inclusive urban growth must not falter. Should they do so, the U20 Summit risks becoming a mere symbol of unity, devoid of actionable change, and fails to uphold the essence of the G20's motto, "One Earth, One Family, One Future."

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