7 Things that Happen at a G-20 Summit
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7 Things that Happen at a G-20 Summit

The G-20 Summit is a crucial gathering of leaders from the world’s largest economies. The G20 countries which account for 85% of the world’s economic output and 75% of world trade often discuss plans for the global economy at the summit.

During this high-stakes event, various significant activities and discussions unfold, shaping global politics and economics. 

In this brief overview, we’ll explore key things that typically happen at a G-20 Summit, shedding light on its importance in today’s interconnected world.

Economic Discussions

Economic policies, trade agreements, and financial stability are key topics that are discussed at the G-20 summit. Since G-20 countries contain two-thirds of the global population. 

Leaders address economic growth, fiscal policies, and global financial systems. One such decision is their Debt Service Suspension Initiative (DSSI) introduced in April 2020.

The initiative which offers a temporary suspension of “official sector” or government-to-government debt payments has benefited 46 low-income countries.

Issues of Climate change and sustainability 

Another thing that happens at a G-20 summit is the discussion of issues bordering on climate change and sustainability.

Leaders of the European Union and 19 other countries always share their commitments to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and addressing environmental concerns.

While leaders of the world’s richest economies have agreed to pursue efforts to limit global warming with “meaningful and effective actions,” there has been little or no concrete commitment.

After the G-20 summit in 2021, the leaders pledged to stop financing new, unabated coal plants internationally by the end of the year. But they stopped short of agreeing to end coal power in their own nations.

Bilateral Meetings on the sidelines

Leaders also engage in bilateral meetings on the sidelines to discuss specific issues or conflicts between their countries.

One of the key takeaways from the 2022 G20 summit held in Bali was a bilateral meeting between the U.S. President Joe Biden and Chinese leader Xi Jinping, the first time the two had met since Biden became president.

The three-hour meeting laid out major differences between the superpowers, especially over Taiwan, trade restrictions and technology transfers. They also agreed to keep communications open and avoid confrontation.

Threats to Global Security

Security concerns such as terrorism, cybersecurity, and regional conflicts are addressed with a focus on global stability and peace.

Last year in Indonesia, the G-20 leaders adopted a declaration deploring Russia’s aggression in Ukraine “in the strongest terms” and demanding its unconditional withdrawal. 

They also strongly condemned the war in Ukraine and stressed it is causing immense human suffering and exacerbating existing fragilities in the global economy – constraining growth, increasing inflation, disrupting supply chains, heightening energy and food insecurity, and elevating financial stability risks.”

Global development goals

Discussions on global development goals, poverty reduction, and humanitarian issues are common at the G-20 summit. 

These countries are aware that they have a special responsibility to work together to tackle the challenges facing the world’s poorest countries, especially in Africa.

The Compact with Africa (CwA) is a central pillar of the G20-Africa partnership launched to this end under Germany’s G20 presidency. 

The aim of the CwA is to promote private sector-led development by improving the conditions for private investment, including in infrastructure.

Crisis Response when necessary 

In times of global crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, the G-20 Summit serves as a platform for coordinated global responses and resource allocation.

In 2020, a G-20 summit communique noted that leaders of the world’s 20 biggest economies pledged to ensure affordable and fair distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, drugs and tests around the world so that poorer countries were not left out.

Family photographs 

The heads of government often pose for a group photograph, known as the “family photo” at the end of the summit.

Sometimes, the diplomatic discord revealed by the image makes headlines.

For example, In 2018, following the killing of journalist Jamal Khashoggi at the Saudi consulate in Istanbul, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman was largely ignored, and made to stand at the far end of the group.

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