The Group of 20 (G20) was created in December 1999 in response to the financial crises affecting the emerging countries in the late 1990s. The initial aim was to have the finance ministers and central bank governors of the industrialised and emerging countries meet once a year to facilitate international economic policy cooperation.
Confronted with the deepest economic and financial crisis since World War II, the G20 went into high gear in late 2008 at the initiative of France, the holder of the rotating EU presidency at the time. What emerged was an economic steering body that brought together the world's major political leaders at the highest level. At the pioneering Washington Summit in November 2008, heads of States and governments agreed on an extraordinary plan of action to prevent the financial system and the global economy from collapsing.
Since then, the G20 has convened on a regular basis: in London in April 2009, Pittsburgh in September 2009, Toronto in June 2010, Seoul in November 2010, Cannes in November 2011 and Los Cabos in June 2012. The G20 has become the premier forum for economic and financial cooperation, able to provide world growth with more stable, sustainable foundations.
The G20 is the premier forum for our international economic development that promotes open and constructive discussion between industrial and emerging-market countries on key issues related to global economic stability. By contributing to the strengthening of the international financial architecture and providing opportunities for dialogue on national policies, international co-operation, and international financial institutions, the G20 helps to support growth and development across the globe.
The G20 operates with an annually rotating chair under a relatively informal system. Each year, a member country is given responsibility for organising the summits of heads of States and governments and ensuring that the preparatory negotiations move ahead as planned.
Given that the G20 primarily addresses economic issues, finance-related units play a key role in G20 negotiations. The finance ministers and central bank governors hold several meetings a year to lay the groundwork for decision-making by the heads of States and governments.
The G20 is made up of the finance ministers and central bank governors of 19 countries:
Every year, the G20 members are entitled to invite a limited number of other countries and regional organisations to their summits.
In carrying out its work, the G20 draws on the technical expertise of international organisations, chiefly the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the International Labour Organisation (ILO), the World Trade Organization (WTO), the United Nations (UN) and the Financial Stability Board (FSB).
The G20 has progressed a range of issues since 1999, including agreement about policies for growth, reducing abuse of the financial system, dealing with financial crises and combating terrorist financing. The G20 also aims to foster the adoption of internationally recognized standards through the example set by its members in areas such as the transparency of fiscal policy and combating money laundering and the financing of terrorism. In 2004, G20 countries committed to new higher standards of transparency and exchange of information on tax matters.
This aims to combat abuses of the financial system and illicit activities including tax evasion. The G20 has also aimed to develop a common view among members on issues related to further development of the global economic and financial system.
To tackle the financial and economic crisis that spread across the globe in 2008, the G20 members were called upon to further strengthen international cooperation. Accordingly, the G20 Summits have been held in Washington in 2008, in London and Pittsburgh in 2009, and in Toronto and Seoul in 2010.
The concerted and decisive actions of the G20, with its balanced membership of developed and developing countries helped the world deal effectively with the financial and economic crisis, and the G20 has already delivered a number of significant and concrete outcomes:
First, the scope of financial regulation has been largely broadened, and prudential regulation and supervision have been strengthened. There was also great progress in policy coordination thanks to the creation of the framework for a strong, sustainable and balanced growth designed to enhance macroeconomic cooperation among the G20 members and therefore to mitigate the impact of the crisis. Finally, global governance has dramatically improved to better take into consideration the role and the needs of emerging of developing countries, especially through the ambitious reforms of the governance of the IMF and the World Bank.
The G20 (like the G7) has no permanent staff of its own. The G20 chair rotates between members, and is selected from a different regional grouping of countries each year. The current G20 chair is Russia. The chair is part of a revolving three-member management Troika of past, present and future chairs. The incumbent chair establishes a temporary secretariat for the duration of its term, which coordinates the group's work and organizes its meetings. The role of the Troika is to ensure continuity in the G20's work and management across host years.