“We are meeting at a time of deep global divisions. We have a responsibility to those not in this room,” he told the ministers in Delhi.
India wants to use its G20 presidency to raise issues of developing countries known as the Global South.
But divisions within the group over the Ukraine war will test Indian diplomacy.
Last week, G20 finance ministers failed to reach a consensus on a closing statement at their meeting in Bangalore (Bengaluru) city, in the first ministerial meeting in the run up to the summit later this year.
It was left to India to release a chair’s summary which noted “different assessments of the situation” in Ukraine within the group. The foreign ministers’ talks on Thursday are likely to face similar hurdles.
It was evident from Mr Modi’s speech on Thursday that India wanted to deliver agreements that could help the developing world and fuel its global ambitions.
“After years of progress, we are at risk today of moving back on the sustainable development goals. Many developing countries are struggling with unsustainable debts while trying to ensure food and energy security,” he said.
“They are also most affected by global warming caused by richer countries. This is why India’s G20 presidency has tried to give a voice to the Global South.”