The Think-20 (T20) is poised to cement its place as a relevant platform for the exchange of ideas about the G20 in 2015 and beyond. The Turkish presidency is well placed to help solidify this position.
While actively engaged on G20 issues in some fashion for the last decade, think tanks and thought leaders from the G20 countries ultimately came together to establish a network in 2012 with the Mexican presidency inviting think tank experts to contribute ideas and discuss them with G20 sherpas themselves. Building on these recent advances, the recently launched Turkish presidency of the G20 has taken the T20 to a new level.
Working with the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) and our own Centre for International Governance Innovation (CIGI), the Turkish presidency organized an interactive session between the T20 representatives and a delegation of G20 finance ministers and central bank governors during the kickoff meeting in Istanbul this month. For CIGI, this provided a unique opportunity to draw the G20’s attention to a number of matters: unfinished business in the financial regulatory agenda for the year ahead; reform of the international financial architecture and the increasing role of plurilateral financial arrangements; and substantial gaps in the governance of severe sovereign debt crises.
This unprecedented session was followed by the formal launch of the T20 under this year’s Turkish presidency of the G20. Held at Bogazici University on February 10, the events featured more than 80 participants from 39 institutions in 20 countries. The workshop ended with the launch of a series of research projects to be presented at the next G20 Sherpa meetings. Some of these projects will examine priorities of the Turkish presidency, including infrastructure finance and global value chains for smaller companies. Others will challenge the G20 to be more ambitious by exploring issues currently missing from the G20 agenda, such as sovereign debt restructuring, climate change, and the challenges posed by the transformation to a knowledge economy. Think tanks will work together in clusters, leveraging their respective areas of expertise, while assuring each area is examined from various regional perspectives.
The workshop was followed the next day by the public launch of the T20’s “Transforming Global Governance” conference at the Istanbul Chamber of Commerce (ITO), featuring Ali Babacan (Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey), Ibrahim Caglar ( Chair of Istanbul Chamber of Commerce), Rifat Hisarciklioglu (Chair of TEPAV and President of Turkey’s Chambers and Commodity Exchanges Association), and Guven Sak (Executive Director of TEPAV)
Moving forward, the T20 is planning a number of thematic and regional seminars, starting with the next CIGI-TEPAV co-sponsored meeting in Ottawa, Canada in May. The goal is to generate more focused discussions that will translate into policy-relevant research that will inform G20 policy makers. Themes include technology and innovation; trade and sustainable development; financial reform and stability; and infrastructure and investment.
This is a strong start to the year and points to the T20 operating at a new level. One of the legacies of the Turkish G20 Presidency will be a more structured network of global thinkers to complement the G20 efforts, but also to hold policy makers to account. The more the T20 integrates with the G20 process, the better its policy discussions will be. For now, the high level of interest expressed by Turkish and other officials demonstrates the T20’s growing importance in the sphere of global policy making.