The Group of Twenty (G20) Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors was established to bring together industrialised and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy and is an effective decision-making body.  Now, each year a multi-lateral forum of G20 Leaders (Prime Ministers, Presidents) and Ministers (Agriculture, Employment, Health, Trade, etc.) meet to discuss ways to strengthen the global economy.

It is the premier forum for international economic cooperation and decision-making of policy issues pertaining to the promotion of international financial stability. The G20 accounts for 85% of the world economy, 76% of global trade, and two-thirds of the world’s population, including more than half of the world’s poor. The G20 represents all geographic regions of the world, and includes; trade, health, employment, and agriculture.

The G20 process is complex and varies from year to year. A central part of the process is the Leaders’ Communiqué, issued after each summit. This is a public statement made by the leaders, and as well as general statements, may contain commitments to specific policies at a national level and future actions that G20 member nations will take.

Since 2008, a number of engagement groups have been formed that attempt to influence its decisions, such as Business Twenty (B20), Labour Twenty (L20), Civil Society Twenty (C20) Think Tank Twenty (T20), Youth Twenty (Y20).  In 2015 the Women Twenty (W20) was established with a goal to permanently anchor the issue of economic participation and empowerment of women as a cross-thematic task in G20 goals and existing political declarations such as the UN 2030 Agenda, demanding realisation of the commitment to gender equality. The engagement groups convene in tandem with the G20 and ensure that the position of civil society on important issues is taken on board by the G20 leaders.

In 2016, the G20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, G20 members committed to contribute to its implementation through “collective and individual efforts, at home and abroad”. The G20 Development Working Group (DWG) supports the implementation by agreeing on specific steps in three areas of mainstreaming, partnerships and building capacity/sharing experience.

However, conflict can occur. At the 2017 German summit meeting of 19 major economies and the European Union, many observers representing academia and civil society viewed the Summit resolutions as insufficient or even counterproductive. Above all, they criticized the blind faith in economic growth reflected by the Summit documents and the one-sided focus on private investments to finance development, for example in the context of the so-called “G20 Partnership with Africa”. Setting this priority in fact contrasts with the more comprehensive approaches to sustainable development that the United Nations 2030 Agenda is based on and to which the G20 countries have also committed themselves as members of the United Nations. Given the massive public protests against the G20 Summit and the hardly reconcilable conflicts within the group, there are some who generally question the point of such Summit formats.

Gender and the G20

The G20 has declared that they will have a cross-cutting gender approach throughout G20 meetings and gender mainstreaming across the G20 agenda has a key place, knowing that the only way to achieve truly fair and sustainable development is by ensuring that women and men will benefit equally from it. The G20 will boost women’s empowerment, the elimination of gender disparities in employment, science, technology and education, and protection from all forms of gender-based violence.

Women Twenty (W20)

 Women 20 (W20), the G20 engagement group that brings together women’s organisations from G20 member countries across the globe, officially launched its agenda for the Argentine G20 in Buenos Aires. The public figures at the event pledged to enrich to the G20 agenda over the whole course of the Argentine presidency.

Australia and the G20

Australia supports a strong and effective G20. Australia benefits from G20 cooperation to support an open global economy and to protect the global financial system’s stability. Australia is in a perfect position to spearhead the international conversation on inclusive prosperity; a discussion acknowledging that countries that grow more equally will grow more strongly.

Implementation of the 2030 Agenda by G20 members

G20 Members have agreed to engage in fostering a common understanding of Common but Differentiated Responsibilities (CBDR 2.0) Principle 7.para12) to contribute substantially to more equal and balanced global partnerships for development. The G20 Development Working Group (DWG) supports the contribution of countries, agreeing on three specific areas to specify its mandate; mainstreaming, partnerships and building capacity/sharing experience. The DWG will conduct Annual Progress Reports and Comprehensive Accountability Report triennially.

Useful links:

Implementation of the 2030 Agenda by G20 members: how to address the transformative and integrated character of the SDGs

Australia and the G20

G20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development

 Contradictions and conflicts of the G20 and the 2030 Agenda