NEW REPORT: “Some Highlights of the 2016 China-led G20 Summit”

Here are seven things to look for in our new report, which reveals the key outcomes of the September 4-5 G20 Summit in China:

  1. A major initiative of the September 4-5 G20 Summit was the launch of a Global Infrastructure Connectivity Alliance for which the World Bank will serve as Secretariat. The Alliance will develop regional infrastructure plans and “pipelines” for bankable infrastructure projects that connect countries, regions and continents to, among other things, facilitate trade. MDBs may invest more than $350 billion over 3 years mainly to attract private investment into key sectors, especially energy, transportation, and water. (See pp. 3-4)
  1. Despite a Presidency Statement on Climate Change, the 2016 G20 Leaders’ Communiqué stresses “the importance of diversification of energy sources and routes” and endorses natural gas “as a less emission-intensive fossil fuel, we will enhance collaboration on solutions that promote natural gas extraction, transportation, and processing in a manner that minimizes environmental impacts.”

In 2009, the G20 pledged to eliminate fossil fuel subsidies (FFS), but no date has been set for their phase-out. A handful of countries, including the U.S. and China, are undergoing “peer reviews” of their FFS, but progress is too slow. Deployment of renewable energy technologies is imperative to curb global warming, but FFS make these technologies less competitive. (See p. 5)

  1. In one of its most significant moves, the Summit launched The Enhanced Structural Reform Agenda including 9 policies intended to attract private investment, including into public-private partnerships (PPPs). The Agenda should be recast to help achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). One lower-priority policy on the Agenda — to “Enhance Environmental Sustainability” — should be reconceived and upgraded . (See pp. 6-9)
  1. The G20 Leaders adopted the Guiding Principles for Global Investment Policy-Making that had been endorsed earlier in the year by its Trade Ministers. Among other things, these should give more serious attention to climate risk. After the Summit, BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager (managing $4.9 trillion), issued a report advising all investors to factor climate change into their decision-making and emphasizing that doing so would not mean having to accept lower returns. Business interests urge that such Guiding Principles form the basis of a Multilateral Agreement on Investment. (pp. 11 and 13)
  1. The global economy is in trouble. The G20 could be doing much more to protect the world from another global financial crisis. The Communiqué rightly recognizes (slowing trade, weak demand, limited growth, de-industrialization, and so on), but does not connect these trends with the poorly functioning intermediation by the financial sector. (p. 12-13)
  1. The G20 welcomes the establishment of an Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) which would tax profits where they are made. While non-G20 member nations are invited to “join on an equal footing”, they were not invited “on an equal footing” to design the rules. This illustrates the downsides of rule-making by a non-inclusive forum , such as the G20, even when it engages in outreach to non-member countries. (p. 13)
  1. The G20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development addresses work on the 2030 Agenda by G20 member nations as well as G20 support for low-income and developing countries. With regard to the former, questions may arise about why some G20 member countries address only a few sustainable development goals (SDGs).

With regard to the latter, questions may arise about:

  • whether the conceptualization of the G20’s 15 Sustainable Development Sectors (SDSs) provide a programmatic pathway that will lead to the SDGs;
  • whether low-income and developing countries approve of the 15 SDSs;
  • why the Action Plan would work mainly on 5 SDGs in recipient countries; and
  • whether or how the G20 will be accountable to the United Nations with regard to the conceptualization and implementation of its Action Plan.   (pp. 16-19 and appendices)

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Discussion

  1. Interesting- thanks much for this report. It seems the G20 is lagging seriously behind the spirit of the SDGs, with way too much reliance on “business as usual” and little responsibility for dealing with the problems inflicted by the financial sector. Thanks for calling out where they’re falling down. I also want to see the infrastructure for gender equality, not just lip service.

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