University of Toronto


G20 Summits |  G20 Ministerials |  G20 Analysis |  Search |  About the G20 Research Group
[English]  [Français]  [Deutsch]  [Italiano]  [Portuguesa]  [Japanese]  [Chinese]  [Korean]  [Indonesian]

Munk School of Global Affairs

G20 Information Centre
provided by the G20 Research Group


Connecting G20 Summitry with Citizenry

Madeline Koch, G20 Research Group
May 16, 2016

Paper prepared for the Shanghai International Forum, May 30, 2016.


Introduction

Since 2008, the ten G20 summits have gathered the leaders of the world's most powerful countries, together representing about 65% of the world's population. Almost all these leaders come from democratic polities back home. Putting the many, ambitious decisions they make together at their summit into action depends not only on coercive command and control measures but also on the voluntary cooperation and consent of their citizens and civil society stakeholders at home and beyond. This is particularly important with informal summit groups such as the G20, whose commitments are not legally binding and whose meetings take place behind closed doors, typically in an urban setting that requires expensive security arrangements that directly affect local citizens, who wonder if the summit is worth its substantial cost.

How well the G20 and its leaders communicate their work to their citizens is therefore central to the effectiveness and legitimacy of G20 summit governance. The G20 must connect with its citizens, both in transparently transmitting information out about what goes on within the G20 system and in responding to the influence from civil society stakeholders and citizens — who possess both great expertise and resources.

Since the start of G20 summitry, host governments have used various methods of communicating and connecting. Several aspects of outreach have become increasingly integral to the process. But in both cases, there is some way to go.

[back to top]

Information Out from G20 Governments

Communicating out is primarily the responsibility of the G20 host. With 19 member countries plus the European Union, there is no fixed schedule for holding the presidency of the G20. Hosting responsibilities are decided among the leaders on a two-year basis, so at each summit the presidency of the one two years hence is announced. There is a troika governance system with the past presidency, current presidency and next presidency providing continuity. The country scheduled to hold the presidency for the next year typically maintains a low profile until the traditional turn-over on December 1.

[back to top]

The Host's Website

Along with assuming the presidency comes the responsibility for managing the G20's website. The website can and should be the main source of information available to the public about the agenda for the summit, the schedule of supporting meetings and official documents. Enterprising presidencies will also use the website to provide information about the summit site, which will receive much attention in the lead-up to and during the summit itself.

China's presidency is a case in point. On December 1, 2015, China took over the website from Turkey, which had hosted the summit in Antalya two weeks earlier. China's website soon contained an informative 17-page statement with an introduction by President Xi Jinping setting out his objectives and aspirations for the summit he would host in September 2016. The website also contained videos of welcome messages, information on the host city of Hangzhou and an explanation of the design of the logo.

It also maintains links to documents issued at previous summits. On December 17, the website published the full schedule of G20-related meetings, including those of ministers and deputy ministers, working groups and experts, the leaders' personal representatives or sherpas, and outreach groups. As those meetings began to take place, photos and reports about them were published, as were reports about speeches by China's G20 officials at various venues.

China, like Mexico in 2012, chose to not to use English as the language for the default website, recognizing the value of making information about a significant international event accessible to its domestic audience. Users visiting www.g20.org on December 1, 2015, would receive Chinese-language material, or click on a link for English translations.

[back to top]

Social Media

In recent years, G20 presidencies have opened official Twitter and Facebook accounts to disseminate information about the summit. Twitter has become particularly useful in raising awareness about upcoming meetings and announcing the release of documents. Sherpas and officials often use their personal Twitter accounts to transmit — usually anodyne — comments about meetings as well as photos, as do embassies and diplomatic missions around the world. These messages help domestic audiences feel informed about the G20 process, although they often do not contain as much substance as might be found on the official website.

China may well be using Weibo and Weichat to communicate with its domestic audience, but those messages do not reach beyond the Chinese diaspora. Without access to Twitter and Facebook from within China, it must rely on multilingual material published on the web by the state-run Xinhua or the Global Times, which do use western media to extend their reach.

[back to top]

Speeches on the International Stage

In addition to what could be considered institutional forms of communication using the internet, where messages and information can be composed and transmitted by officials, the host leader often uses key public speeches to set out his or her agenda for the summit. On the international stage, the World Economic Forum's annual meeting at Davos is well situated for such announcements, as it takes place each January, is attended by political and business leaders, and attracts global media attention. Every presidency since 2010 has used Davos to inform the world of its G20 plans except for Russia's Vladimir Putin in 2013, before hosting the St. Petersburg Summit. For the Hangzhou Summit, China sent Vice-President Li Yuanchao to deliver the speech, rather than either President Xi Jinping or Premier Li Keqiang.

China also used the opportunity of its first meeting of finance ministers and central bank governors to inform a global audience about the G20's economic agenda. Premier Li Keqiang delivered a speech at the opening of the meeting in Shanghai in February. Given the G20's origins as a finance ministers' forum and the role of the G20 in responding to the 2008 global financial crisis, the finance ministerial meetings attract the most attention of all the ministerial meetings that might take place over the course of the year.

[back to top]

Influence In from Engagement Groups

Each G20 presidency chooses how it will engage with civil society. Yet a tradition of so-called engagement groups has developed since 2009. The tradition exists because civil society has come to expect that it will have an opportunity to provide feedback and consultation into the policy-making process. Conversely, the G20 has found it beneficial to work with such groups. This is not only because civil society involvement offers a degree of legitimacy to this select group but also because the engagement groups can act as a testing ground for policies or a source of ideas, as with the Think 20 (T20) and as a way of implementing the decisions that the leaders make, as with the Business 20 (B20).

[back to top]

B20

The B20 was the first formal engagement group to form, and is seen as the most influential. In January 2009, at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, HSBC chair Stephen Green proposed a "Business 20" that would complement the leaders' G20, which was at the time preparing for the second summit in London in April (Reuters 2009). His idea was that a parallel group of top business leaders from all G20 members would engage with the G20 and "help inform policy and create a more stable global economy" (HSBC 2009).

The recovery from the global financial crisis would require the cooperation of business on many items on the G20 agenda, including corruption and money laundering, labour and employment, trade and investment, and, most importantly, financial stability. Reaching out to business made sense for the G20 to help implement its commitments.

It was not until the fourth G20 summit, held Toronto in June 2010, however, that the B20 formally gathered. With business leaders from all 19 member countries, the first "Business Summit" met with the G20 finance ministers for a "'reality check' from the front lines of global commerce" on the margins of the leaders' meeting at Toronto (Manley 2010). This event had been closely coordinated with the Canadian host, Prime Minister Stephen Harper, who attended. Many of the participants had been selected by their home governments. Korea's finance minister Yoon Jeung-Hyun saw the B20 "as a platform for public-private collaboration and the starting point of the new normal in the global economic architecture" (Perkins 2010). Korea, which would host the next summit in Seoul in November 2010, announced it would also hold a business summit.

The Korean presidency developed the B20 concept further, with 12 working groups and discussions involving as many as 120 business leaders (B20 2010). Several G20 leaders attended the B20 summit, which was held at the same time as the Seoul Summit. They included Korean president Lee Myung-Bak, Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, Russian president Dmitry Medvedev, British prime minister David Cameron, German chancellor Angela Merkel, Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan and South African president Jacob Zuma.

Since then, each G20 presidency has appointed a B20 chair, who has organized the B20. Although the format and structure are not always the same as the previous presidency, six task forces have become entrenched over time: the Financing Growth Task Force, the Trade and Investment Task Force, the Infrastructure Task Force, the SME Development Task Force on small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), the Employment Task Force and the Anti-corruption Task Force. These groups continue their work from one presidency to the next, with many participants remaining involved for several years.

The timing of the B20 summit is also coordinated with the G20 presidency. Business leaders often find it most appealing to hold their main meeting as close to the leaders' meeting as possible, in order to allow business leaders and political leaders to meet. This happened at Toronto, Seoul and Cannes in 2011. But to have an impact on the negotiations of the G20 leaders' statements, it can be more effective to make recommendations months before the leaders' meeting. Under the 2013 Russian and 2014 Australian presidencies, the B20 summits were held several months before the G20 summits. Under the 2015 Turkish presidency, a B20 conference was held in September in Istanbul, during which several policy papers were published that were the product of the task forces; the B20 summit was held in Antalya at the same time as the G20 summit, although logistical issues made it difficult for there to be much interaction between the G20 and B20 participants.

China's presidency has returned to the model of holding the B20 summit in tandem with the G20 summit, with the business leaders meeting on September 3–4 and the G20 leaders meeting on September 4–5. Task forces and working groups have continued to meet throughout the year.

One aspect of the B20 is that it can hold the G20 responsible for its promises. The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), which has been following the work of the G7/G8 since 1990, has been closely involved in the B20 since the Seoul Summit. Although it created the G20 CEO Advisory Group, led by the ICC's Jeffrey Hardy, to serve as a "platform for global business to provide input to the work of the G20," it began producing the annual ICC G20 Scorecard in 2012 (ICC 2016a). The scorecard assesses the summit's pledges from a business perspective, in the "belief that if the G20 has better information on how its actions are interpreted by the business community this will help it set priorities, honour commitments, measure its own progress over time and identify deficiencies that deserve greater attention" (ICC 2016b).

There is some debate over whether the B20 is more effective when its summit feeds into the summit preparatory process or when it takes place at the same time as the leaders' meeting. There is an argument to be made for proposing well-developed recommendations early in the summit negotiations, so that the sherpas as well as the ministers who hold summit-related responsibilities have an opportunity to incorporate and build on them. But in terms of developing channels of communication between business and the summit, there is also an argument to be made for the contiguous meetings, which attract a large amount of media attention and offer an opportunity for face-to-face contact between the political leaders and the business leaders — although those business leaders often tend to be the CEOs of multinational corporations who have comparatively more access to political leaders than SME business people or domestic enterprises. Nonetheless, as the oldest and most developed of the engagement groups, the B20 is an effective partner in the G20 process.

[back to top]

L20

On the eve of the Cannes Summit in November 2011, labour leaders met with host President Nicolas Sarkozy. As the Labour 20 (L20), they issued a joint statement with the B20 in what was an "example of stakeholder co-operation between the private sector and the trade union segment of civil society" (Hajnal 2016). With the Mexican presidency in 2012, the L20 became directly connected to the official G20 process, with a page on the official website explaining the role of the L20 (Mexican Presidency of the G20, 2012). This tradition has been maintained by subsequent presidencies.

Supported by the International Trade Union Confederation and Trade Union Advisory Committee to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, representatives of trade unions in the G20 members have issued recommendations to the G20 leaders as well as to the finance and labour ministers. Those documents have often been released to synchronize with ministerial meetings, so they feed into the policy-making process, rather than make declarations at the time of the leaders' meeting after the negotiations have been completed.

L20 summits have been scheduled for each presidency since the 2011 French presidency. The summits usually take place around the same time as the leaders' meeting, but typically do not attract as much public attention as some of the other engagement groups.

China is maintaining the tradition of an L20 summit. The launch event was held in Beijing in February to prepare for the summit on July 11–12. It will focus on the priorities of unemployment and low wages.

[back to top]

C20

Civil society has been engaged with G20 summitry in various ways since the beginning. When the leaders began meeting — particularly in 2009 and 2010 — summits were marked by public demonstrations and protests that sometimes involved violence. As the global financial crisis subsided and the G20 summits became more regular, street-level engagement has diminished somewhat. However, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as Oxfam, Transparency International and the Global Call to Action Against Poverty have been following the G20's work all along. On June 21–22, 2010, before the G20's Toronto Summit and the G8's Muskoka Summit, the Halifax Initiative Coalition convened a meeting that set out a strategy for developing a network "of civil society organizations working together and share experiences from past, current and future G20s," building on various campaigns such as the "Put People First" campaign in 2009 and "At the Table" in 2010 (Halifax Initiative Coalition 2010).

Consequently, the first "Civil G20 Dialogue" took place in Incheon in October 2010, a month before the Seoul Summit. Representatives from international NGOs met with G20 sherpa Rhee Changyong. There was another dialogue with civil society representatives during the French presidency in 2011 and some seminars and forums the Los Cabos Summit in 2012 (Hajnal 2015, p. 208).

When Russia assumed the presidency in 2013 the Civil G20 (C20) started to develop more substantively. In 2006, when Russia held the presidency of the G8, President Vladimir Putin appointed Ella Pamfilova, the chair of the Civil Society Institution and Human Rights Council, to organize the Civil 8, which was a year-long program of conferences involving representatives from the North and South beyond the G8. In 2013, the C20 was a less dense program that began with a conference in Moscow soon after Russia assumed the presidency and culminated in a summit in Moscow in June, two months before the leaders would meet in St. Petersburg.

Russia's presidency marked a change in the interaction between the leaders' process and the NGOs. Whereas previously, the NGOs had organized themselves and issued statements and recommendations for the G20 leaders to consider, now there was an opportunity for more direct communication with the summit preparatory process. The C20 became one of the G20's official engagement groups, led by an NGO leader who, if not directly appointed, met with the approval of the host presidency. This was the case in 2014 with Australia and in 2015 with Turkey.

The C20 had its greatest influence in 2013, when its report in inequality helped move G20 to leaders include the principle of inclusion in their communiqué (Civil 20 Task Force on Inequality 2013).

China's relationship with civil society is somewhat different from many of the other G20 members. The Chinese year as president began with uncertainty about whether a C20 summit would be held. It was not listed in the schedule of events published on the official website in February. However, by May, perhaps having been encouraged by the other G20 members, it appeared that China would host a C20 summit in June or July.

C20 summits are different from what are often referred to as People's Summits. These alternative summits are usually organized independently from the host government, although they often transmit statements and recommendations to the officials and could be considered an additional form of consultation (Hajnal 2015, p. 210).

In all cases, the civil society agenda tends to focus on issues such as hunger and poverty eradication, labour and human rights, peace and security, women's empowerment, education, health, and climate change and the environment. However, there is often a certain degree of tension between civil society and the G20 apparatus. There is a wide range of engagement between civil society organizations and government. Many people in the non-governmental sector prefer to maintain a critical stance. Others seek ways to collaborate in order to raise standards and performance. It is therefore often challenging for C20 organizers to come to a coherent consensus.

[back to top]

W20

In 2015, Turkey's presidency announced the first Women's Summit (W20), which was held in Istanbul in October. The impetus for a stand-alone summit on women and gender equality grew in part out of the commitment made at the 2014 Brisbane Summit to reduce "the gap in participation rates between men and women in our countries by 25 per cent by 2025 … to bring more than 100 million women into the labour force, significantly increase global growth and reduce poverty and inequality" (G20 2014). In the lead-up to the Brisbane Summit, there was much encouragement for the G20 to include such an ambitious target in its declaration (Harris Rimmer 2014; Conway Tyler 2014). Up until then, the G20 had not done very much on this issue (Kulik 2015). Framed in an economic context rather than a social one, however, the issue of improving women's empowerment became part of the solution to the slow economic recovery after the 2008 global financial crisis. It also enabled the G20's agenda to align with the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, launched at the United Nations in September 2015, with its Sustainable Development Goal devoted specifically to gender equality.

There is some overlap between the work of the C20 and the W20. Both agendas include issues such as ending discrimination, improving access to education and ensuring financial inclusion. Indeed, in 2015 the two engagement groups issued a joint declaration as well as their own independent ones. Turkey's W20 broadened its agenda to include issues such as increasing leadership positions for women in business and increasing support for women-owned enterprises.

China will host a W20 in 2016 as well. It remains to be seen how effective the W20, as a young engagement group, will be in making real progress both in supporting the G20's implementation of its commitments and in advising the G20 of the issues that require its attention.

[back to top]

Y20

There have been various youth meetings associated with the G20 since 2010, growing out of the G8 youth meetings that began in 2006. The first such meeting in a G20 context was a joint Y8/Y20 meeting when Canada was hosting the G8 in Muskoka and the G20 in Toronto; the following year was also a joint meeting in France, which held the presidency of both the G8 and G20 summits in 2011. In 2012, the Mexican presidency included the Y20 as one of the engagement groups for its 2012 Los Cabos Summit, and subsequent presidencies have followed suit.

Delegations from each G20 member are usually coordinated by local organizations such as Young European Leadership in Belgium, the International Youth Diplomacy League in Russia, the Young Ambassadors Society in Italy, Indonesian Youth Diplomacy, Youth Global Leadership of Korea and the Young Diplomats of Canada. Participants are usually recent university graduates or young professionals who are interested in international relations or business, who see the summits as an opportunity to participate in resolving the pressing issues of the day as well as develop networks and friendships, and engage in intercultural dialogue.

The Y20 tackles issues relating to the G20's agenda, such as youth employment, financial inclusion, sustainable development and education. The summits produce recommendations that are then delivered to the G20 host.

Russia's Roman Chukov in 2013, Australia's Holly Ransom in 2014 and Turkey's Emre Cenker in 2015 chaired the Y20 in their respective presidencies. Each was a each strong, active and articulate advocate who worked hard to make sure the Y20 views were heard. This was occasionally a frustrating experience, despite well-publicized meetings between the G20 host leader and the Y20 chair. It has sometimes been challenging for Y20 leaders to have as much access to political leaders as some of the other engagement groups.

The All-China Youth Federation is organizing the 2016 Y20 summit in Beijing and Shanghai, with the mission of "providing an institutionalized high-end dialog platform for young people from across the G20 countries … to exchange, collide, fully negotiate and finally reach consensus as future leaders" (Y20 China 2016).

[back to top]

T20

Most of the engagement groups involve some sort of advocacy. They often have a well-defined agenda of issues they want the G20 to address. They hold the G20 to high standards and recommend ways to meet those standards. The T20, however, is an opportunity for think tanks and academics to produce ideas and research that the G20 policy makers can draw on.

Think tank involvement in the G20 summit began in 2009 when, in the lead-up to the London Summit in April, individuals from leading think tanks in the United States, United Kingdom and Canada met in London. Led by Ted Truman from the Peterson Institute on International Economics in Washington DC, they produced a proposal, accepted by the leaders, to increasing the International Monetary Fund's special drawing rights by $250 million to manage the economic crisis that was getting worse at that time (Kirton 2016, p. 36).

However, the first meeting of the formal T20 was held in 2012 during Mexico's year as host. The meeting in February 2012 was attended by Mexico's sherpa as well as representatives of think tanks and current and former government officials from many, but not all, G20 members (Hajnal 2015, 208). It had been organized by the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations (COMEXI) with support from Canada's Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), although it was initiated by the Mexican government. For many years, Paul Martin — who, as Canada's finance minister in 1999, was responsible with U.S. treasury secretary Lawrence Summers for founding the G20 as a forum of finance ministers and central bank governors — had a close association with CIGI, as did COMEXI's Andrés Rosental. Later, as Canada's prime minister, Martin tried to encourage his G20 colleagues to meet at the leaders' level, but it took the 2008 financial crisis for that to happen, by which time Martin had been succeeded by Stephen Harper (Kirton 2013).

In 2013, there was a hastily organized T20 summit in Moscow, just as the Russian presidency got underway. It coincided with the first sherpa meeting to organize the St. Petersburg Summit, which allowed an opportunity for some of the T20 participants to report on the discussions to the sherpas. It was not until Australia's year that the T20 began to take a more institutionalized and influential shape. Organized by the Lowy Institute for International Policy and led by Australia's former finance deputy Mike Callaghan, the T20 kicked off Australia's presidency with a well-attended meeting to discuss recommendations on achieving outcomes that the G20 should pursue. Those recommendations were based on papers prepared in advance that covered the key issue areas on the G20 agenda — financing for investment and infrastructure, trade liberalization and development (Callaghan and Jorgenson 2013).

This approach intensified in Turkey's year in 2015, under the leadership of TEPAV. Several meetings were held in the lead-up to the Antalya Summit. Building on the example of the Russian meeting, one workshop was held in Bodrum in June during one of the G20 preparatory meetings, which allowed interaction between the T20 participants and the G20 sherpas and finance deputies.

China, too, began its G20 presidency with a T20 meeting, held in Beijing in December 2015. Unlike Turkey and Australia, which had one local think tank responsible for coordinating the T20 program, China had three: the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) and its Institute of World Economics and Politics, the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS) and the Chongyang Institute for Financial Studies at Renmin University of China (RDCY).

CASS and SIIS have long had a relationship with China's government by producing research and support for its foreign policy. RDCY, however, was founded only in 2013. Under the leadership of Chen Yulu who was credited with suggesting that China host the 2016 summit, it quickly saw a need for more specialized research to support both the G20's response to the post-crisis situation and China's role in reshaping world order (Wang 2015). RDCY began a tradition of hosting an annual international think tank forum in August 2013, with participants from most G20 members. These conferences, like the T20 itself, bring together officials and academics, which fills a gap in G20 preparations. By its 2015 meeting, Chinese officials began to attend, which indicated official recognition.

CASS, SIIS and RDCY have organized several events throughout China's presidency, including a conference in April 2015 in Washington DC co-organized with the Brookings Institution. It will hold another T20 summit in July 2015, leaving enough time for more recommendations from its participants to feed into the final preparations for the Hangzhou Summit on September 4–5.

Although the T20 involves many academics as well as representatives from think tanks, it does not fulfill the commitment of the G20 leaders at their Seoul Summit in 2010, who said they would increase their efforts to build on "construction partnerships with … academia" (G20 2010). The Seoul Summit Document does provide the leaders' support for engagement groups in its declaration in order "to conduct G20 consultation activities in a more systematic way." An academic 20 has yet to be created. Academic research can offer the G20 more substantive support, because it differs from the policy advice produced by think tanks. Academics can produce "unbiased, systematic logic and evidence" that can increase the G20's understanding of how its performance can be improved and teaching about how the G20 works (Kirton 2012).

[back to top]

Unofficial Engagement Groups

In addition to the official engagement groups, several organizations have independently sprung up, particularly since the Toronto Summit in 2010. These include the Young Entrepreneurs' Alliance (YEA), the G(irls)20 and the Faith 20.

In 2010, Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper encouraged the Canadian Young Business Federation (now Futurpreneur) to organize a meeting of "young entrepreneurs" from G20 members. Driven by Vivian Prokop, the Young Entrepreneurs' Alliance (YEA) was formed and has held a young entrepreneurs' summit each year since 2010. YEA members represent organizations like Futurpreneur, Mexico's COPARMEX and Russia's Centre for Entrepreneurship. They encourage young entrepreneurs — which could be either the young people who starting up enterprises or people who start up new enterprises. Their goal is to make sure the voice of young entrepreneurs is heard by the G20 as well as the B20, particularly as young entrepreneurs can be a strong source of small and medium-sized enterprises and can help provide solutions to unemployment. YEA summits have delegations from virtually all G20 members who issue a statement that is presented to the G20 host government.

Also in 2010, recognizing the need to increase the involvement of women in both domestic economies and the global economy, Farah Mohamed saw an opportunity to bring together girls and young women from G20 members to develop a network and increase their skills. The G(irls)20 Summit has become an annual event, held in the host country, with delegates drawn from emerging sectors including the resource sector, agriculture, trade and technology. Their work closely follows the G20 agenda, and they produce a statement that is delivered to the host sherpa.

As with both the YEA and the G(irls)20, the interfaith community seeks both to support the G20 in implementing its commitments and also to hold it to those promises. Their work has addressed the Millennium Development Goals and now the SDGs. In the G20 context, however, it only began to take form in 2014 thanks to the efforts of Bryan Adams, director of the Centre for Interfaith and Cultural Dialogue at Griffith University in Brisbane. Adams was building on the efforts of the Reverend Doctor Karen Hamilton of the Canadian Council of Churches and her colleague Jim Christie, director of the Ridd Institute for Religion and Global Policy at the University of Winnipeg, who had been organizing an interfaith leaders' dialogue among G8 members since 2010 (Hamilton 2010). An interfaith G20 leaders summit was held in Istanbul immediately following the 2015 Antalya Summit. Work is underway with CASS to hold a Faith 20 (F20) summit in Beijing immediately before the Hangzhou Summit.

[back to top]

The G20 Research Group Contribution

Beyond the G20 itself and its engagement groups, a substantial source information about the G20 is provided freely to all global citizens by the G20 Research Group. It was founded in early 2008 by John Kirton, who had been following the G20 forum of finance ministers and central bank governors through his work on the G7 and G8. The G20 Research Group is a global network of scholars, students and professionals, whose mission is to serve as the world's leading independent source of information and analysis on the G20. It fulfills its mission in several ways, such as partnering with institutions in the host country to organize pre-summit conferences and producing scholarly publications and articles. Its three primary endeavours are maintaining an electronic archive of G20-related material, compiling compliance reports and producing background publications for each summit.

[back to top]

Website

The G20 Information Centre at www.g20.utoronto.ca provides a website offering a broad range of information of the G20, including official documents, declarations by engagement groups, independent analysis and commentary, and bibliographies. Unlike the official G20 website, which is redesigned by each presidency, the G20 Information Centre is a permanent and reliable archive of documentation and material that is easily accessible. Its authoritative quality has given it a large and wide global audience.

In 2015, the site (combined with its companion G7/8-focused website) received 2.4 million hits, from 520,00 visits by 250,000 unique visitors. Of the top 20 most frequent sources, the first 14 were G20 members: United States, China, Great Britain, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, Japan, Korea, Turkey, India, Russia and Italy. In all, users from 200 countries had more than 200 hits each, giving the site a considerable global reach. Users were most interested in the summit background books produced by the G20 Research Group with Newsdesk Media as well as explanations of what the G20 is, specific communiqués, especially the most recent one, G20 finance documents, and evaluations and analysis. This shows a good spread between basis documentation and value-added analysis.

Usage trends in the first four months of 2016 have remained consistent, with 860,00 hits from 164,00 visits by 90,00 unique visitors, seeking the same sources of information.

[back to top]

Research Reports, Evaluations, Conclusions, Papers and Blogs

Members of the G20 Research Group network produce a range of original material that is published on the G20 Information Centre. Research reports and evaluations examine particular aspects of the agenda, often with a focus on compliance and accountability as well as on how well the G20 performs. One particularly useful resource is the lists of conclusions that G20 leaders have made on specific issues since their first summit. Papers that have been prepared for conferences or presentations are published in a bibliography that also includes journal articles, books and other sources of analysis.

In the past year, the G20 Research Group has begun commissioning and producing short commentary pieces on issues related to the summit agenda, on ministerial meetings, and on the intersection between the work of the G20 and the United Nations and other international organizations. Although these blogs offer authors an opportunity to express opinions, they remain grounded in research and evidence.

[back to top]

Compliance Reports

The product that the G20 Research Group is most known for is its compliance report. This document is an independent evidence-based evaluation of how well G20 members are meeting their commitments. Produced with Marina Larionova's team in Moscow, a report is issued about half-way through the year between one summit and the next, with a final report issued on the eve of the summit covering the full year since the previous one.

As soon as a summit ends, analysts examine the official documents issued by the leaders there to identify discrete, measurable commitments and categorize them according to the issues on the G20 agenda. They then select a limited number of commitments that reflect the priorities of both the G20 over time and the host country. Over the next few months, teams of analysts seek out publicly available proof of implementation efforts made by G20 members through budgetary allocations, legislation, policy announcements, speeches and so on. G20 members are assessed for compliance on a three-point scientific scale, with +1 indicating full compliance with the priority commitments made at the most recent summit, 0 indicating partial compliance or a work in progress, and −1 indicating a failure to comply or contrary action.

Before the interim and final reports are released publicly, they are circulated to about 1,000 G20 stakeholders for review. Those stakeholders include G20 governments, international organizations, think tanks and academics, civil society organizations and businesses. Their feedback often includes documents overlooked by the G20 Research Group analysts, and is carefully considered in revising the report before publication.

Once finished, the reports are made available to the global audience, including the media, on the G20 Information Centre website and add to the cumulative data set on G20 compliance.

The G20 Research Group's compliance reports provide some transparency to the work of the G20, as well as an educational service by showing the impacts and reach of the decisions of the leaders of the world's systemically significant economies. They thus have proven to be useful to the global community, as well as to the leaders themselves. As British prime minister David Cameron said at his press conference at the 2012 Los Cabos Summit, "we come to these summits, we make these commitments, we say we are going to do these things and it is important that there is an organisation that checks up on who has done what."

[back to top]

Background Books

For each summit, the G20 Research Group works with Newsdesk Media in the United Kingdom to produce its official publication that examines the issues that will be on the leaders' agenda. Available in print and electronically at no charge, these background books contain articles by the participating leaders, including the host, and the heads of the international organizations that work closely with the G20, as well as global experts. Newsdesk distributes the publications to a high-level international audience that includes G20 governments and diplomatic missions, Fortune 500 corporations, think tanks and academics. Copies are also distributed at summit's international media centre, where the media gather to cover the G20. These publications thus not only inform the global community but also the elite media seeking background and analysis of the summit they are covering.

[back to top]

Conclusion

As Caitlin Byrne and Scott Blakemore write, "To fulfill its own mandate, the G20 must understand and inform ordinary people around the world. It must draw their voices, interests and concerns into the dialogue of leaders and countries, and it must represent them. Simply put, for the G20, engaging people is not a nicety, but rather a matter of effectiveness, legitimacy and credibility."

For the G20 to implement its decisions effectively, it must engage with its communities, and those beyond the G20, to inform them and be influenced by them. As the engagement groups themselves have evolved, the G20 has increasingly recognized the concerns of the various communities whose livelihoods and success are directly affected by the leaders' actions, and the engagement groups have an increasing awareness of global governance at the highest level. As a form of public diplomacy, this interaction benefits all: the various communities find strength in coming together and the G20 gains fresh insights and ideas. Building such mutual trust and participating in such productive relationships are essential tools for G20 effectiveness, and for its ability to fulfill its founding mission of making globalization work for all.

[back to top]

References

B20 (2010). "Seoul G20 Business Summit: Joint Statement by Participating Companies," Seoul, November 11.

Byrne, Caitlin and Scott Blakemore (2015). "Lessons in Public Diplomacy," pp. 196–97 in John Kirton and Madeline Koch, eds., G20 Turkey: The 2015 Antalya Summit (London: Newsdesk Media).

Callaghan, Mike, and Hugh Jorgenson (2013). "Think 20 Papers 2014: Policy Recommendations for the Brisbane G20 Summit." (Sydney: Lowy Institute for International Policy).

Civil 20 Task Force on Inequality (2013). "Civil 20 Proposals for Strong, Sustainable, Balanced and Inclusive Growth." Moscow: Civil 20. http://www.g20.utoronto.ca/c20/C20_proposals_2013_final.pdf.

Conley Tyler, Melissa (2014). "Gender Equality Is Key," G20 Watch, November 17.

G20 (2010). "The Seoul Summit Document." Seoul, November 12.

G20 (2014). "G20 Leaders Communiqué." Brisbane, November 16.

Hajnal, Peter I. (2014). The G20: Evolution, Interrelationships, Documentation (Farnham: Ashgate).

Hajnal, Peter I. (2015). "G7/8 and G20 Accountability and Civil Society," pp. 202–231 in Marina Larionova and John J. Kirton, eds., The G8-G20 Relationship in Global Governance (Farnham: Ashgate).

Halifax Initiative Coalition (2010). "Bridge to South Korea: Global G20 Meeting," June 22, Toronto.

Hamilton, Karen (2010). "Inspired Leadership," pp. 308–09 in John Kirton and Madeline Koch, eds., G8 & G20: The 2010 Canadian Summits (London: Newsdesk Media).

Harris Rimmer, Susan (2014). "Gender at the G20," Open Democracy, November 10.

HSBC (2009). "HSBC Calls for a New Global Marketplace," January 30.

International Chamber of Commerce (2016a). "ICC G20 CEO Advisory Group." Paris.

International Chamber of Commerce (2016b). "ICC G20 Scorecard." Paris.

Kirton, John (2012). "Academics, Analysis and Accountability: Contributions to G20 Governance." Paper presented at an international conference on "Global Governance for the Next Generation: Building on the Los Cabos G20 Summit," ITAM, Mexico City, April 25.

Kirton, John (2013). G20 Governance for a Globalized World (Farnham: Ashgate).

Kirton, John (2016). China's G20 Leadership (Abingdon: Routledge). In press.

Kulik, Julia (2015). "G20 Gender Policy Accountability." G20 Research Group, November 13.

Manley, John (2010). "Chair's Summary," Business Summit, Toronto, June 26.

Mexican Presidency of the G20 (2012). "Labour 20." Mexico City.

Perkins, Tara (2010). "For Business Leaders, Debt Reduction Takes Priority," Globe and Mail, June 27.

Reuters (2009). "HSBC Calls for New Financial System Transparency," January 30.

Y20 China (2016). "About Y20." Beijing.

Wang, Wen (2015). "China and the G20: A Think Tank Perspective." G20 Research Group.

[back to top]


This Information System is provided by the University of Toronto Library
and the G20 Research Group at the University of Toronto.
Please send comments to: g20@utoronto.ca
This page was last updated May 16, 2016 .

All contents copyright © 2017. University of Toronto unless otherwise stated. All rights reserved.