What G20 is all about?

Joyrison Kamba

Most of us are aware of the recent conclude of the 18th G20 (Group of Twenty)summit which was held in Bharat Mandapam International Exhibition-Convention Centre, PragatiMaidan, New Delhi on 9–10 September 2023 but what is this G20 all about?

The Group of Twenty, or G20, is a key international forum for economic cooperation and policy coordination among the world's biggest nations. It was founded in reaction to the late-90s financial problems and has since expanded into a forum for tackling numerous global concerns. Let’s look at the G20's history, organisation, aims, essential functions, accomplishments, critiques and future possibilities.

Introduction: The G20 is an international conference comprised of 19 of the world's top economies as well as the European Union. Its member countries account for a sizable portion of global economic output, trade and population. The fundamental objective of the G20 is to foster international financial stability and sustainable economic growth among its members via policy coordination and communication. It also targets a variety of global challenges, including climate change, development and poverty eradication. The G20 group 20 members as of 2023 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, South Korea, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States and the European Union. Spain, UN, World Bank, African Union and ASEAN are just a few of the organizations that have been invited as guest.

Historical Background: The G20's beginnings may be traced back to the late 1990s, a time defined by a succession of financial crises with worldwide consequences. The Asian financial crisis of 1997, followed by the Russian financial crisis of 1998, underlined the need for more international collaboration and coordination to meet the difficulties of a rapidly globalising world.

In the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis, the G20 was officially established in 1999 as a forum for finance ministers and central bank governors from 19 major economies, including traditional economic powerhouses such as the United States, Japan, and Germany, as well as emerging economies such as China, India, and Brazil. The European Union was also shown as a distinct entity. Initially, the emphasis was on coordinating strategies to avert future financial disasters.

Process of Decision-Making and Structure: The G20 functions on an ad hoc and informal basis, with no fixed administration or headquarters. Instead, it has a system of rotating presidents. Each year, the host country assumes the president and decides the agenda for the sessions. The presidency is rotated among member nations and normally lasts one calendar year.

The Leaders' Summit is the G20's main decision-making body, where leaders of state and government meet to debate and make decisions on the most important global issues. This summit is the climax of a year-long series of meetings and talks involving finance ministers, central bank governors, and working groups focusing on specific subjects.

While the G20 functions on consensus-based decision-making, member nations' commitment to these choices might vary. This informality provides for flexibility, but it also means that agreed-upon actions may be difficult to enforce.

Some of the objectives and Key Functions: Economic and Financial Stability: The fundamental goal of the G20 is to ensure global economic and financial stability. Member nations collaborate to monitor economic changes, share information, and coordinate policies to prevent or respond to financial crises.

Sustainable Economic Growth: Beyond stability, the G20 seeks to foster inclusive and sustainable economic growth. Addressing challenges such as economic inequality, job development, and poverty reduction are all part of this.

Financial Regulation and Reform: Following the 2008 global financial crisis, the G20 played a key role in lobbying for and implementing financial regulatory reforms to strengthen the global financial system's resilience. These changes include initiatives to enhance risk management, promote transparency, and reinforce banking laws.

Trade and Investment: The G20 advocates for free and equitable international commerce and investment. It has fought to remove protectionism and promote global trade liberalisation.

Development: The G20 understands the significance of solving global development concerns. It has prioritised infrastructure investment, food security, and healthcare to foster long-term growth in low-income nations.

Climate Change: Climate change and environmental sustainability have taken front stage on the G20 agenda. Member nations have addressed strategies for combating climate change, lowering greenhouse gas emissions, and promoting renewable energy.
Global Health: The G20 has aided in the response to global health emergencies like as the COVID-19 epidemic. Member nations have collaborated to develop healthcare infrastructure, promote vaccination delivery, and strengthen global health security.

Key Achievements: Over the years, the G20 has achieved several significant milestones:

Global Financial Stability: The G20's coordinated response to the 2008 financial crisis, including measures to stabilize financial institutions and stimulate economic growth, played a crucial role in preventing a global economic depression.

Financial Regulatory Reform: A more robust international banking system has been made possible by the G20's commitment to the financial regulatory changes contained in the Basel III framework.

Trade and Investment: Global economic growth has been maintained, and trade wars have been avoided, thanks in large part to G20 initiatives to lessen protectionism and encourage trade liberalisation.

Development Initiatives: The Compact with Africa and other G20 development efforts aim to boost infrastructure, investment, and economic growth in African nations.

Global Health Response: The G20 was crucial in organising global efforts to fight the COVID-19 epidemic, encouraging the provision of vaccines and the recovery of the global economy.

Climate Action: The G20 has fostered worldwide conversations and pledges, including the Paris Agreement, aimed at solving climate concerns, even if progress on climate change has been slow.

Criticisms and Challenges: Despite its achievements, the G20 faces several criticisms and challenges:

Representation and Inclusivity: Given that it is dominated by big economies, some contend that the G20 is not representative of the world's population. Countries with smaller populations or weaker economies could feel left out.

Effectiveness and Enforcement: The informality and consensus-based decision-making of the G20 might make it difficult to carry out pledges and cause delays in tackling urgent global concerns.

Unfairness: According to detractors, the G20 has not taken sufficient action to address economic inequality as well as the differences in wealth and development across member nations.

Climate Action: Due to certain G20 members' resistance to more aggressive promises to tackle climate change, progress on climate action has been slow.

Geopolitical conflicts between G20 members like the United States, China, and Russia can make it difficult to work together on important global issues.

Policy Differences: It might be difficult to come to an agreement on some subjects since member nations have a variety of economic and political interests.

Future Prospects

Future prospects for the G20 rely on its capacity to adjust to changing global issues and stay relevant. The following variables will impact its future:

Global emergencies, such as pandemics, economic downturns, and disasters connected to climate change, will continue to be addressed by the G20.

Climate Change: As the need to combat climate change becomes more urgent, the G20's role in coordinating climate action will be crucial.

Geopolitical Dynamics: In order to preserve collaboration on important global issues, the G20 will need to negotiate geopolitical tensions and rivalries among member nations.

Change and Adaptation: In order to address complaints and improve its efficacy, the G20 may need to change and modify its structure and decision-making procedures. The G20 is working to be more inclusive by interacting with smaller organisations.

The writer is Assistant Professor, Department of Botany SJC(A)