The G20 – or Group of Twenty – was created in 1999 as a way to discuss economic policies among the world’s largest economies.
How did the G20 begin?
The intergovernmental forum held its first leaders’ summit, which has now become an annual event, in November 2008 in Washington, DC.
The host was then US President George W. Bush, who was at the end of his second term with the recently elected Barack Obama waiting for him.
It was a crucial time – as the world plunged into the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, reforming the global financial system to respond to the global economic crisis was crucial.
Which countries are members of the G20?
The G20 is conceived as a common platform of world leaders.
It includes members of what used to be the G8: Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Russia, the UK and the US.
(Russia was kicked out of the G8 after the 2014 invasion of Crimea, giving way to what is now the G7.)
But it also opened membership to emerging economies, such as Brazil, India, China, South Africa and this year’s host Indonesia.
The European Union sends one representative to the G20 forum every year.
What is the goal of the G20 summit?
The goal at the outset was to avoid the chaotic expansion of global markets by providing a forum for discussing macroeconomic issues, political disputes, and trade.
As individual economies became more and more intertwined, the G20 turned into a forum for confronting globalization and finding solutions to ensure stable global economic growth.
This meant addressing burning issues among its various members – including labor rights, environmental standards and respect for the rule of law.
The scope has been broadened to include issues other than the economy, such as health and climate.
Do the G20 members agree?
Obviously, a group of 20 leaders with their national interests and ideologies will not agree on everything.
In recent years, G20 discussions have pitted democracies, led by the United States and Europe, against authoritarian states like China and Russia – with both sides looking out for their own interests and often unable to reach a compromise.
Various crises, including the debt crisis, the Covid-19 pandemic and now the war in Ukraine, have created major divisions among members.
This year’s meeting also comes as China enters a new era, with President Xi Jinping consolidating his power.
And as China hopes to overtake the United States as the world’s largest economy, the balance of power within the G20 could shift.