G20 Osaka Summit 2019: World leaders meet for 14th time; all you need to know about Group of 20 and its agenda

The G20 (short for 'Group of 20') Summit — formally known as the “Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy" is council meeting of 19 countries: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States, apart from the European Union. Spain, on the other hand, is a permanent guest invitee.

The group was established in 1999 to broaden the remit of the G7 – a grouping of the world’s most powerful nations — and its primary mandate is to “prevent future international financial crises”. Together, members account for roughly 85 percent of the world economy; that's around three-quarters of global trade and two-thirds of the world’s population.

The chairpersons and the members’ leaders initially met twice a year, but this was changed to once a year since 2011. The leaders’ meetings are usually preceded by ministerial meetings by trade ministers, finance ministers and central bank governors, which are designed to set the agenda for the meet of the world’s most powerful leaders.

 G20 Osaka Summit 2019: World leaders meet for 14th time; all you need to know about Group of 20 and its agenda

A signboard at the G20 Summit venue in Osaka, Japan. Moneycontrol

The summit usually has a number of overarching themes. In Buenos Aires G20 Summit in 2018, these were “the future of work, infrastructure for development and a sustainable food future”. This year, the main agenda of the two-day event is to discuss issues such as international trade, environment, climate change, cross-nation equations, terrorism, and economy.

In the run-up to summits, senior officials known as "sherpas" thrash out the issues for discussion, with the aim of getting G20 members to reach an agreement at the summit. Like sherpas in the Himalayas, they help guide their leaders through often difficult terrain and do the diplomatic legwork, the World Economic Forum states.

The heads of a number of international organisations also participate, including the International Monetary Fund, the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation. There are also meetings of finance ministers and central bank governors, trade representatives, and anti-corruption working groups.

The G20 has been credited with helping avert a shift to protectionism post-global financial crisis in 2008, tripling the International Monetary Fund’s budget and giving development banks more remit. However, it is widely perceived to have failed to address global inequality.

The G20, like many plurilateral organisations, is often dismissed as a “talking shop”, where leaders offer plenty of bluster, but achieve very little material progress, reports South China Morning Post.

As the "premier forum for international economic cooperation” (agreed by leaders at the Pittsburgh Summit in September 2009), representing more than 80 percent of the global GDP, the G20 has made continuous efforts toward achieving robust global economic growth. And with the progress of globalisation, the recent G20 summits have focused not only on macroeconomy and trade, but also on a wide range of global issues which have an immense impact on the global economy, such as development, climate change and energy, health, counter-terrorism, as well as migration and refugees.

After the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997-1998, it was acknowledged that the participation of major emerging market countries is needed on discussions on the international financial system and G7 finance ministers agreed to establish the G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meeting in 1999.

The G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meetings were centered on major economic and monetary policy issues amongst major countries in the global financial system and aimed at promoting cooperation towards achieving stable and sustainable global economic growth for the benefit of all countries. The participating members in the meetings were the same as the current G20 members.

In November 2008, the inaugural G20 Summit was held in Washington, DC, in response to the global financial crisis that occurred in the wake of the collapse of the Lehman Brothers. The G20 Meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors was upgraded to the head of the state level, as a forum for leaders from major developed and emerging market countries. In September 2009, the third summit was held in Pittsburgh where the leaders designated the G20 as the “premier forum for international economic cooperation". From thereon, the summit meetings were held semiannually until 2010 and annually from 2011 onwards.

Updated Date: Jun 27, 2019 19:16:19 IST