Editor’s Note: The global economic crisis has launched a new group of nations to public awareness. In April, leaders of the G-20 Summit will gather in London for a second meeting. Colin Bradford discusses challenges they will face and how to make this governance mechanism work for the good of the international community. This article originally appeared in the March edition of The World Today.
The second G20 summit in London on April 2 is a critical moment to address the global financial crisis, but it is also a confluence of political, institutional and economic change. For British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, it is an opportunity for his economic experience, expertise and leadership to shine. For United States President Barack Obama this will be his first summit as president, placing him in the global limelight not in the Euro-centric, western setting of the G8 group of leading economies but bringing him together with leaders of major nations from all regions in the G20.
The urgency of the global financial crisis and economic recovery, of international institutional reform and of consensus on climate change arrangements, is forcing foundational reform in global governance by transforming the apex summit from a small group of western industrial countries to a larger gathering of major economies from diverse regions, cultures and income levels. The world will have a new focal point for leadership that is more representative, effective and legitimate and can exercise greater influence.
Asia is under-represented and underwhelmed by the transatlantic power structure of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the G8. Four Asian emerging market economies – China, India, Indonesia and Korea – are in the G20. No Islamic countries are in the G8; three – Indonesia, the most populous Muslim nation, Turkey and Saudi Arabia – are in the G20. Australia, Brazil, Russia, South Africa and Mexico are all in the G20; pivotal strategic powers in most global challenges; all but Russia are not in the G8.
There's a far greater concentration of wealth than there is a concentration of income. And that actually has quite a separate effect and impact on the economy.