This paper assesses the current context following the G20 summits in Washington, London and Pittsburgh and the prospects for the forthcoming meetings in Canada and Korea in 2010 and beyond. It asks which global problems could be on future agendas and how to achieve both effectiveness and legitimacy. It discusses the composition of the G20, working and coordination methods in the preparatory process, and effective outreach processes. The main conclusions are: • The G20 should limit the agenda to the financial crisis issues and contain the inevitable pressures to broaden the agenda by inviting other groups and organizations to provide recommendations for consideration at future G20 meetings. • Composition is an intractable problem, with no correct answer. Legitimacy and efficiency could be attained by the Europeans speaking with one voice rather than six or eight, while the host country invites two or three “guests.” • To reconcile the need for extensive preparation with the antipathy to formal bureaucracy, the G20 should set up a summit “non-secretariat.” This nimble, nonbureaucratic structure could be located for one year in the host country, headed by the G20 troika sherpas, with two being non-resident. • More systematic and structured consultations with non-G20 countries, civil society, parliamentarians, the policy research community and the private sector could add to legitimacy and effectiveness.

Part of Series

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.
  • A former Canadian deputy foreign minister, NATO ambassador and G7/G8 Sherpa, Gordon Smith is a leading expert on the evolution of the G20 and global summitry.

  • With a distinguished career in Canadian diplomacy — including posts as ambassador to Germany, permanent representative to the United Nations (UN) and adviser to various prime ministers, Paul Heinbecker is one of Canada’s most experienced commentators on foreign policy and international governance. Paul is also the director of the Centre for Global Relations at Wilfrid Laurier University.