The G20 is the most important international forum bringing together the major economies of the world accounting for more than 80% of global GDP, including Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, the United States, the European Union and the African Union. With the African Union and the European Union, the G20 now includes two continental unions representing their member countries in the G20 processes.
Likewise, the G7 group involves the world‘s seven largest so-called advanced economies. The G7 has a vital role in maximizing the opportunities to solve the climate crisis and is considered a “subgroup” of the G20 countries. As neither the G20 nor the G7 have a permanent secretariat, the rotating presidencies establish the annual agenda and respective activities every year. Throughout the year, ministerial meetings, Sherpa meetings and special events are organised in the context of the annual G20 summit.
Every year, leaders of the 19 largest economies, the African Union and the European Union come together at the G20 summit to primarily discuss matters of financial stability, while also addressing present challenges such as climate change and sustainable development. By gathering emerging economies and industrialized countries the G20 is well placed to factor in different perspectives and to consider the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Climate Agreement as the basis for the design of any future frameworks.
The 2024 G20 Presidency is held by Brazil.
The Group of Twenty (G20) is a premier forum for international economic cooperation, bringing together the world’s major economies. Its members include 19 countries—Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States—plus the European Union and since G20 India 2023 the African Union.
Together, the G20 economies account for around 80% of the world’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), 75% of international trade, and two-thirds of the global population.
Origin and History
The G20 was founded in 1999 in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis as a meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors, with the aim of broadening the dialogue on world economic issues and making the global economy more stable and prosperous. The Asian financial crisis highlighted the need for a more inclusive and comprehensive forum than the G7/G8, which consisted of the largest advanced economies only. The G20 was seen as a more representative body for discussing global economic issues, as it included both developed and emerging economies.
In 2008, in response to the global financial crisis, the G20 was elevated to the level of Heads of State and Government. This elevation marked a recognition of the need for a more coordinated and powerful global response to address the crisis and set the stage for future global economic governance.
The G20 operates without a permanent secretariat or headquarters. Instead, its agenda and priorities are established by the rotating presidency, which changes annually among its member countries. The presidency leads the G20 process throughout the year, culminating in the annual G20 Summit, where leaders discuss a wide range of global issues.
The primary purpose of the G20 is to promote international financial stability and sustainable economic growth, by coordinating policies among its members and by fostering global economic cooperation. The G20 works to achieve these goals through policy coordination in areas such as fiscal and monetary policy, trade, and the regulation of financial markets. It also addresses major global challenges that affect the global economy, including climate change, poverty, and health issues.
The G20’s work is divided into two main tracks: The Finance Track and the Sherpa Track, alongside various Engagement Groups.
- Finance Track: This track is focused on economic and financial issues and is primarily managed by finance ministers and central bank governors. It includes working groups and initiatives on the global economy, international financial architecture, financial regulation, international tax cooperation, and sustainable finance.
- Sherpa Track: The Sherpa Track deals with a broader set of policy issues beyond the financial scope. Each G20 country appoints a Sherpa (personal representative of the leader) who negotiates on their behalf on issues including development, climate change, digital economy, employment, education, health, and anti-corruption. The Sherpa Track is responsible for preparing the leaders’ summit and ensuring the coherence and consistency of the G20’s various work streams.
- Engagement Groups: These are independent groups that represent various sectors of civil society, including business (B20), civil society organizations (C20), labor (L20), think tanks (T20), women (W20), youth (Y20), and urban issues (U20). These groups provide recommendations to the G20, aiming to influence its policies and decisions from the perspective of their respective sectors.
The G20’s effectiveness lies in its ability to bring together the world’s major economies to discuss and take action on pressing global economic issues. While it has been criticized for its lack of formal power and the difficulty in reaching consensus among its diverse members, the G20 remains a key international forum for economic dialogue and cooperation.