The Group of Twenty (G20) is the premier forum for its members’ international economic cooperation and decision-making. Its membership comprises 19 countries plus the European Union. Each G20 president invites several guest countries each year.
G20 leaders meet annually. In addition, Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors meet regularly during the year to discuss ways to strengthen the global economy, reform international financial institutions, improve financial regulation and implement the key economic reforms that are needed in each member economy. Underpinning these meetings is a year-long program of meetings among senior officials and of working groups coordinating policy on specific issues.
The G20 started in 1999 as a meeting of Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis. In 2008, the first G20 Leaders’ Summit was held, and the group played a key role in responding to the global financial crisis. Its decisive and coordinated actions boosted consumer and business confidence and supported the first stages of economic recovery. G20 leaders have met nine times since 2008.
The G20 is an apt model for global cooperation in today’s world. Its response to the global financial crisis is a testament to the impact G20 members can make when working together. The G20 introduced trillions of dollars in fiscal stimulus packages worldwide, which saved or created millions of jobs that would otherwise have been destroyed. It also put in place measures to limit the collapse of financial markets and helped maintain consumer and business confidence.
Over the past six years, the G20 has framed the world’s efforts to restore growth and build the resilience of financial institutions and national economies. It led the world out of an economic crisis and through the initial stages of the recovery. With the world now free from immediate economic crisis, the G20 can increasingly shift its attention to driving practical actions that will lead to sustained global growth.
The challenges that now confront the global economy are less pressing and urgent than those faced at the height of the global financial crisis but they are no less important.
In 2015, the global economy continues to produce far less than it would have if the crisis had not occurred; there are tens of millions fewer jobs and global trade growth is still too slow. While always remaining vigilant to risks and vulnerabilities, the G20 is now more focused on improving the future of the global economy.
The G20 is supported by international organisations, including the Financial Stability Board, the International Labour Organisation, the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, the United Nations, the World Bank and the World Trade Organization. These and several other organisations are invited to attend key G20 meetings.
G20 also works with its official engagement groups, the B20, C20, L20, T20 and Y20, comprising business, civil society, organised labour, academia and youth.