There is much to discuss as leaders gather in Germany for G20 meetings: from the sluggish global recovery, to the potential for protectionism and threats to globalisation, and the economic and social challenges and opportunities of technological disruption. Reinforced by changing political sentiment over the past year, there is a growing consensus that the global economy is not delivering the benefits that it needs to across the developed world.
In his inaugural address, Donald Trump declared “From this day forward, it’s going to be only America first” (a phrase, associated with opponents of entering World War II). Former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer commented that “‘America first’ signals the renunciation, and possible destruction, of the US-led world order that Democratic and Republican presidents, starting with Franklin D. Roosevelt, have built up and maintained – albeit with varying degrees of success – for more than seven decades.” (Project Syndicate, “The God of Carnage,” January 27, 2017)
The chairs of the Think20, together with the other G20 Engagement Groups Business20, Civil20, Labour20, Science20 and Women20, published a Joint Statement for Open and Inclusive Societies. On the occasion of the meeting of the G20 Foreign Ministers on 16 and 17 February 2017 in Bonn, Germany, and in view of growing challenges to the international community, the Engagement Groups call upon the G20 countries to reinforce their efforts for effective multilateralism and coordination of future-orientated domestic policies that shape globalization in an inclusive way.
The G20 began as a forum for Finance Ministers and Bank Governors in 1999, but with the addition of the Leaders’ Summits in 2008, the Executive Office (or in the case of the 2017 G20 – the German Federal Chancellery) began to play a central role within the G20. A general division of labour has evolved in preparing G20 Leaders’ Summits whereby most economic and financial issues are managed through the Finance Track, and many non-economic issues are managed through the Sherpa Track via the G20 President’s executive office and an appointed Sherpa.
For the first time since the establishment of the Think20 (T20) process, Think Tanks from across Africa have met with T20 Think Tanks to discuss the G20 agenda and potential opportunities for Africa-G20 cooperation.