The global economy is growing ever more connected and is shaped by rapid technical progress. Nevertheless, economic progress no longer seems to go hand in hand with social progress. One of the goals of the G20 should, ultimately, be to shape the global economy in such a way that people's most pressing needs can be met. But that also means that the G20 should make efforts to promote not just economic growth but also robust, integrative and sustainable prosperity.
Academics, politicians and business representatives spent two days at the Think20 Dialogue Forum in Berlin discussing solutions to these global challenges. They then presented their recommendations to Peter Altmaier, Head of the Federal Chancellery.
Tackling global problems
Peter Altmaier said that innovation was driven by global problems which needed to be solved and by technical developments, not by politics. That was why it was necessary, he said, to create governmental structures so that problems could be discussed globally in a networked world. "We now understand that technical progress will only be possible and the risks associated with climate change, migration, poverty and terrorism can only be tackled in our closely networked world if we act together," the Head of the Federal Chancellery said.
Migration and flight are huge challenges, Altmaier said. Events in the autumn of 2015 had showed that there was no fully functional international framework in place for dealing with such problems. Many countries in Europe, as well as in Africa, were helping to prevent a humanitarian disaster. The G20, Altmaier said, should focus on more than just economic and financial issues. The G20 countries needed to act together to address social and ecological risks. The problems faced in Africa, in particular, needed to be tackled collaboratively, said Altmaier.
Finding solutions to new challenges
It was of course important to increase military spending; foreign and security policy was on the agenda, but in a different way than in the past. It was not so much rockets and weapons which were important today, Altmaier said, but above all education, vocational training and integrating women into the world of work and the political debate. That could best be achieved in the context of democratic structures and global initiatives.
The experts recommended that the G20 countries develop a joint vision. That vision would need to enable the global population to shape an economically prosperous, ecologically sustainable and socially integrative future which was capable of withstanding any unforeseen shocks. The G20 countries as well as all the other nations of the world needed to each go their own way and at the same time find a common vision for tackling problems which affected them all, they explained.
Three simple ideas
Such a common vision should be based on three simple ideas: Firstly, the future of humanity is dependent on the stabilisation and cultivation of global public goods, including the global economy and the biosphere. These global public goods are the precondition for peace, security and human well-being going forward.
Secondly, cultivating these global public goods requires an overall culture of global cooperation as well as a system of global collective action. Thirdly, top-down global good governance will not work unless globalisation is focused on people.
As regards climate action, the Agenda 2030, which governments adopted in September 2015, already reflects the cornerstones of such an urgently required global vision. Consequently, the main emphasis of the G20 agenda, which is continually evolving, should be ensuring that people's well-being across the globe is based on prosperity, their ability to actively participate and social integration.
Think20 (T20), a network of international think tanks from the G20 countries, supports the solving of these challenges by delivering recommendations and new perspectives to the G20 heads of state and government which can serve as guides when it comes to shaping policy.