The G20 leaders’ forum has proven effective at coordinating a global response to economic uncertainty. Its collective action in 2008-2009, the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, has helped to mitigate the size of the international economic crisis. With the initial shocks now passed, the G20 faces new challenges as it moves into the phase of post-crisis global economic management. This paper highlights the G20’s position in the international governance architecture. The paper first looks at “incompleteness” in the G20 process as it moves from the role of a “crisis buster” to that of a global economic “steering committee.” The paper then outlines the tests the G20 will face over the short to medium terms. The focus then shifts to ways of improving outreach to non-members and other stakeholders, and discusses concerns of internal disconnects within the G20 itself. The paper concludes that: • The G20 must quickly ensure that it does not lose the momentum gained in dealing with the crisis through 2008-2009. Summit leaders should solidify the forum’s role through swift action to prevent backsliding on promises as the immediate effects of the global crisis dissipate. • The G20 must promote equitable international economic arrangements that provide a larger voice and role for the major economies of the global South. This must include the G20’s own performance and extend to other international forums. • Avoiding internal fracturing will be essential if the G20 is to move forward. The spirit of mutual cooperation that helped spur the G20’s elevation from a grouping of finance ministers to a meeting of leaders at the summit level must be harnessed. Collective action and problem solving should be encouraged that transcends traditionally like-minded groups of countries. • To better promote and secure legitimacy, the G20 must reach out to non-member states and non-state actors, giving voice and consideration to their concerns. But this outreach must be done in a way that does not diminish the G20 as a relatively cohesive and effective small group.
Emanating from CIGI’s G20 work program, the “CIGI G20 Papers” seek to examine and understand options for the G20 on major transnational and institutional issues, such as the response to the economic crisis, financial regulation, and the G20’s place in the processes and “architecture” of international economic governance. The first four papers to be published were originally presented at CIGI’s conference on International Governance Innovation: Issues for the 2010 Summits (May 3-5, 2010). They address questions relating to the new Financial Stability Board; the process of summitry and the G20’s effectiveness and legitimacy; the G20 and the post-crisis economic order (and by extension, the G8); and the macroeconomic stabilization framework for sustained global growth and prosperity.