So I’ve been offline since CIGI ’09.  Apologies. I do hope that the blogging for CIGI ’09 along with my colleague Annette Hester, blogger supreme of, Sustainable Energy Partnership for the Americas was informative and even entertaining. 

The blogging pause after CIGI ’09 is not with out some merit.  The annual meeting was focused on the global financial crisis and the way back to sustainable global growth.  Also, a pause and some reflection now after the Pittsburgh G20 Leaders Summit is not unwarranted.

 The Pittsburgh Summit appears to have resulted in a signal evolution in the global governance architecture.  From what we now hear, the new American President returned from L’Aquila and initiated an internal and then multilateral process to enlarge the principal Gx forum, the G20 Leaders.  Apparently, the President was determined to reduce the number of leaders’ meetings. 

 So, it would appear that the G20 Leaders Summit – soon to be returned to an annual meeting – or at least by 2011 – will operate as the key international economic summit.  But many questions remain in this enlargement.  Two for sure.  One is to determine what, if anything remains of the G7/8.  The second is to determine whether the enlargement – which appears to resolve, at least for the moment, the legitimacy question, has also resolved the effectiveness question in global governance. 

 Much remains in question over the G7/8.  At Muskoka the Canadian government is determined to host the annual G7/8 meeting and co-host with the Republic of Korea, the G20 Leaders Summit.  The convening issue then will be whether the G7/8 Presidency then passes to France – that is the traditional sequence – and whether the French then hold the dual presidencies of the G20 and also the G7/8.  While some would yawn at this point over the intricate discussion of ordering and agenda setting of the Gx process, the continuance of the G7/8 is consequential.  A number of critical issues have engaged the G7/8 – not least development, African development and evaluating the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).  It is not that the G20 couldn’t address these matters – but will they.  More questionable are security matters that the G8 have from time to time engaged in by these traditional powers.  It is not clear that a transfer of security matters from the G8 to the G20 is likely.

 As for legitimacy and effectiveness - this has been an, ‘elephant in the room’ type question from much earlier days of the G7.  The G7 has long been attacked for lack of legitimacy – the club of the rich - with growing calls for the inclusion of at least the large emerging powers in the leaders summit.  Well that has been achieved and more.  But I have no doubt we will soon have calls for inclusion of others – those left out. Those not part of the twenty, will not wait long before they raise the spectre of greater inclusion.  It is, I suppose, an endless debate of global governance. 

 As for effectiveness this is will be a crucial matter for the G20.  The extensive program set out in the final communiqué at Pittsburgh requires more than just commitment.  Many of these agreements require extensive national implementation in fiscal policy, financial regulation, global imbalances and then exit strategies.  There are other decisions that require collective agreement for reform of the Bretton Woods institutions.   The Gx process has emerged partly in the face of Bretton Woods and UN institutional ‘paralysis.’  The evaluation of Gx effectiveness has been limited.  It will not continue that way, I suspect.

The opinions expressed in this article/multimedia are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of CIGI or its Board of Directors.