About this Blog
This blog monitors and critiques the performance of the Group of 20 (G20) and its relationship to other governance bodies. As a Group of advanced and emerging market countries, the G20 is an exclusive “club”. Because its members own or control so many powerful institutions (e.g., the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank), the rare consensus in the G20 can be disseminated with speed and efficiency. This is the case with the points of consensus related to scaling up investment in infrastructure, promoting structural reforms, and advancing the role of the private sector in development, among others.
The G20 needs to be transparent and accountable to the world community for inclusive solutions to multiple crises, such as those related to the economy andsustainable development(e.g., inequality and climate change).
About the G20
The G20 comprises 19 individual member countries and one regional member: the European Union. The 19 member countries represent 10% of the countries in the world. During its decision-making processes, the G20 has outreach processes to inform and hear the views of non-member countries.
Over the years, the G20 has focused on promoting its Growth and Investment Frameworks. At the same time, it has many related mandates: financial regulation, employment, anti-corruption, international taxation, food security, trade, energy, and infrastructure development. In 2016, the G20 addressed the sustainable development goals (preparing an action plan) and began to tackle the issue of climate change, which used to be a taboo topic because of the fundamental disagreements of the G20 members.
There are several “engagement groups” that seek to influence the G20, including the Business 20 (B20), Labor 20 (L20), Think 20 (T20), Civil 20 (C20), and Women’s 20 (W20). While the perspectives of these groups are diverse, they share an interest in enhancing the G20’s transparency, participation, and accountability.
G20 members include: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, and the European Union.
Since 2008, the G20 has met at the level of “heads of state” (presidents and prime ministers) to address the Global Financial Crisis triggered by the United States. In addition to regular meetings of G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, the G20 has a “cabinet” of sorts. That is, G20 foreign ministers as well as ministers of labor/employment, trade, energy, agriculture, and tourism meet in the run-up to each Summit. Germany hosts the 12th G20 Summit on July 7-8, 2017 in Hamburg. In addition to Germany, the G20 Troika includes China (the 2016 G20 President) and Argentina (the 2018 G20 President).
About the Author
Nancy Alexander is Director of the Economic Governance Program, which focuses on: how global power shifts – from the “West to the rest” – affect the ways in which citizens and policy-makers can democratize decision-making, create jobs, and promote sustainable and equitable development. Power shifts are seen in new and existing development finance institutions (e.g., the World Bank, the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, the New Development Bank of the BRICS — Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa). They are also seen in governance “clubs”, such as the Group of 20 (G20). Comprised of the Leaders of 19 countries, plus the European Union, the G20 considers itself the “premier forum for global economic cooperation.” Thematically, the Program advances human rights and sustainable development norms relating to investment, particularly in infrastructure.
Nancy’s background involves lobbying of the Congress and Administration against U.S. military and economic intervention as well as promotion of sustainable development, particularly through global institutions, such as the World Bank. Before joining the Foundation in 2009, she consulted to the US House Financial Services Committee and the International Labor Organization; founded and directed a non-profit – Globalization Challenge Initiative – for ten years; and held senior positions at other non-profits, including the Center for Policy Negotiation and Bread for the World. Her degrees are from Duke and Harvard Universities.
Okay, but what’s with the Chinchilla?
On the blog masthead, there is a fanciful picture of a chinchilla reading a book entitled “How to Rule the Universe.” In reality, the chinchilla is a sensitive and endangered species, but our chinchilla also “thinks big” with existential questions about universe. The image reminds us of how hard it is to make rules even for a small planet, as the G20 and other clubs and institutions try to do.