G20

Find out more about G20’s role in the solution of global issues

Over the years, the G20 has expanded its activities to address issues that go way beyond the economic sphere, such as climate change, international trade, the digital economy and employment. The UN highlights the G20 as an important partner towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

01/09/2024 8:42 AM - Modified 3 months ago
Fires break out along the access road to the Bau Indigenous Land, of the Kayapó people, in Novo Progresso, Pará. The environmental issue is one of the highlights of the G20 this year. I Photo: Cícero Pedrosa Neto/Amazônia Real
Fires break out along the access road to the Bau Indigenous Land, of the Kayapó people, in Novo Progresso, Pará. The environmental issue is one of the highlights of the G20 this year. I Photo: Cícero Pedrosa Neto/Amazônia Real

The Group of 20, better known as the G20, was established as a response to the economic crises that marked the end of the 20th century. The first G20 meeting took place in 1999, in response to the global financial crisis that hit several emerging countries. At the time, finance ministers and central bank presidents from these nations met in Berlin to discuss strategies towards economic stabilization and prevention of future crises.

Over the years, the G20 has expanded its activities to address issues that go way beyond the economic and financial sphere, such as sustainable development, climate change, international trade and employment. The global financial crisis of 2008 caused by the collapse of Lehman Brothers led to a change in the G20—thereafter raised to the level of heads of State and Government. The first meeting held with this new status—now also annual—was held in Washington to coordinate the response to the crisis, and to implement measures against a global recession.

The diversity represented by G20 countries allows for the preparation of comprehensive policies that consider different economic realities and challenges. The United Nations highlights the G20 as an important partner in the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals. According to UN Secretary General António Guterres, the G20 has the capacity to catalyze resources and influence policies towards the eradication of poverty, the promotion of equality and the mitigation of climate change. The UN also highlights the importance of the focus given by the Brazilian presidency to global governance reform.

Emphasis on the Global South agenda

Brazil has highlighted the importance of the group to the establishment of economic policies that benefit great world powers and also developing countries, while ensuring that the specific needs and challenges of Global South countries are taken into account in decision-making.

According to UN Secretary General António Guterres, the G20 has the capacity to catalyze resources and influence policies towards the eradication of poverty, the promotion of equality and the mitigation of climate change.

According to Brazil’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Secretary and Sherpa, Ambassador Maurício Carvalho Lyrio, “when mobilizing against climate change, there is a difficult discussion between countries that were once heavy emitters and are now developed concerning resources”. “This is a delicate topic; we have seen at COPs (Climate Conferences) that it is no trivial issue. Global governance reform is another topic that involves interests and powers, so it is also delicate,” he added.

To Lyrio, the Brazilian presidency of the G20 will emphasize the participation of civil society and the search for concrete results. “Both the proposal towards focus, pragmatism and concrete results as well as the one towards civil society engagement were very well accepted," said Lyrio.

To Brazil's Finance Minister Fernando Haddad, countries need to understand each other to avoid fragmentation of the global economy. “From an economic point of view, the world is at a crossroads: either we continue to move towards increasing fragmentation or we implement a new globalization, this time placing socio-environmental issues at the center of our concerns.”

To Haddad, a new globalization can be achieved and the G20 will be an instrument to revive multilateral contribution between countries — something which will be proposed during the Brazilian presidency of the forum. “We don’t have to fear globalization. It was done wrongly and that is why it has caused so much anguish. We have to recover multilateralism and the perspective of integration between nations, but this has to be done in a different way,” stated Haddad.

Present G20 formation

Currently the organization is made up of South Africa, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, South Korea, United States, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, United Kingdom, Russia, Türkiye, European Union and African Union. The latter was granted member status at the New Delhi Summit in India in September 2023. These countries are responsible for around 85% of global GDP, 75% of global trade and 2/3 of the world's population.

In addition to the leaders' summit meeting scheduled for November 2024 in Rio de Janeiro, more than 120 meetings will take place in various Brazilian cities in 2024 to discuss and present proposals on topics that are crucial to the future of the planet. Summits have taken place regularly since 2009 as a forum for leaders to discuss issues and implement changes that require collective effort.