From climate action to Africa to digitalisation

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Topics on the G20 Summit agenda From climate action to Africa to digitalisation

The G20 Heads of State and Government will be discussing a broad range of topics at their summit meeting in Hamburg: from sustainable global economic growth, to increasing women's participation, to combating terrorism, corruption and dangerous pathogens.

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A woman is looking at an image of the globe on her laptop

Global climate action is one of the priority topics at the G20 Summit in Hamburg

Photo: picture alliance / AP Photo / Christophe Ena

At their annual summits, which have been held since 2008, the Heads of State and Government of the G20 countries traditionally focus on issues relating to global economic growth, international trade and financial market regulation. The G20 finance ministers and central bank governors had begun meeting regularly in 1999. Other issues of global significance are often closely linked with economic questions. Examples include climate change, development policy, labour and employment policy, digitalisation and, topically, counter-terrorism. The range of issues now considered by the G20 thus makes for a broad agenda.

The G20 is the central forum for international cooperation on financial and economic issues. The world's leading industrial and emerging economies are home to nearly two thirds of the world's population and they account for more than four fifths of global gross domestic product (GDP) and three quarters of global trade. G20 deliberations take place in a confidential setting. The results of the discussions are set down in a Leaders' Communiqué, which has considerable political force. Germany assumed the one-year G20 Presidency on 1 December 2016.

Building the resilience of the global financial system

Since the global financial crisis, the G20 countries have been working to strengthen the resilience of the global financial system and to improve the regulation and supervision of various financial market participants, including what is known as the shadow banking sector. The aim is to ensure that no financial market, no financial market participant or financial product remains unsupervised. Taxpayers should never again have to foot the bill for bailing out financial market participants. Banks and other financial services providers will therefore in future have to hold more equity themselves. This is also a result of the G20 deliberations. Germany in particular has been pushing for measures to tackle harmful tax competition between countries and combat the aggressive tax policies adopted by international firms, and not just since the publication of the "Panama Papers". A package of measures has been adopted and will now be implemented.

Furthermore, the G20 constantly considers how to achieve strong, sustainable and balanced global economic growth. Ever since the first G20 summit in Washington, D.C. in 2008, trade has also been an item on the permanent agenda of the G20, since growth and employment are dependent on free global trade. The G20 therefore regularly issues clear statements opposing protectionism and supporting fair terms of competition. As issues concerning the spread of digital technology are increasingly affecting economic growth, this topic will receive special attention under the German Presidency. A conference of digital affairs ministers is being organised for the first time within the G20 framework.

Concerted climate action

G20 resolutions can provide key impetus for the conclusion of binding agreements at the United Nations level. Climate policy is the latest example. After the G7 expressed its commitment to adopting an ambitious world climate agreement in order to limit global warming to a maximum of 2°C, the G20 sent a similar signal in support of this goal. The United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris in December 2015 adopted a legally binding international climate agreement which is designed to keep global warming significantly below 2°C. Germany adopted its national climate plan before the conference in Marrakesh was over.

The G20 promotes sustainable development and is working in cooperation with African states to create an enabling environment for investment and infrastructure development. The G20 will be resolute in its endeavours to ensure the rapid and comprehensive implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, with its global sustainable development goals, and of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Germany's G20 Presidency will undertake concrete measures to progress toward this goal and, with this in mind, intends to build on the Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda adopted at the G20 summit in 2016.

The topic of health is also gaining increasing importance for the G20. The Ebola crisis, for instance, resulted in the G20 deciding to devote greater attention to combating dangerous pathogens. Since last year, the issue of antimicrobial resistance has also been on the agenda. In this area work is underway to agree on the appropriate use of antibiotics as well as to coordinate on incentives for improved research and development in this regard.

Promoting women's rights and boosting educational opportunities

The G20 also seeks to improve women's economic participation. The G20 thus agreed on the goal of improving labour force participation among women and reducing, by 25%, the gap which still exists in this respect between men and women by 2025. Germany's G20 Presidency will build on that and focus on improving the quality of women's employment. The German G20 Presidency will also work to remove the existing barriers which prevent women from gaining access to information and communication technology (ICT) in developing countries and to improve education and employment prospects in the field of ICT.

With a view to combating international terrorism, the G20 countries have decided, among other things, to dry up channels of terrorist financing by means of closer cooperation and better information-sharing. Since 2009, the prevention and suppression of corruption has also been on the G20 agenda. The G20 has since been working consistently to expand its existing body of principles. Under the German Presidency, the focus is on measures to improve public sector integrity and the common search for ways to fight corruption in particularly susceptible areas (e.g. wildlife trafficking).

Strengthening Africa politically and economically

Economic development and population growth on the African continent are increasingly having a global impact, especially on its neighbouring continent of Europe and on Germany.

That is why the German Government made Africa one of the focal topics of its G20 Presidency. It wants to use the G20 Africa Partnership to strengthen political and economic stability in Africa, as well as to minimise the root causes of displacement and illegal migration and to promote ownership in Africa.

Africa as a continent was still not benefitting from global economic dynamism in the same way as others, Chancellor Merkel said during her recent trip to Argentina. That was why Africa had to be incorporated into global economic dynamism and existing approaches to boosting growth needed to be promoted.

Picking up on G7 initiatives from the 2015 Summit

Wherever possible and meaningful, the German Government intends to address the themes it prioritised during its G7 Presidency in 2015 and at the Schloss Elmau Summit in the larger G20 format, picking up, for example, on the G7 initiatives on sustainable global supply chains, access to renewable energy in Africa, improved international preparedness for public health emergencies and the global fight against antimicrobial resistance.

Germany also wants to use its G20 Presidency to discuss other key global problems above and beyond the main issues of economic, financial, climate, trade, employment and development policy. Migration and refugee flows and counter-terrorism are, for example, issues of global significance.

In the run-up to the G20 Summit, numerous ministerial meetings involving the ministers responsible for finance, foreign affairs, labour, health, agriculture and information technology were held. These meetings were used to treat the individual G20 topics in more depth.

International organisations such as the IMF, World Bank, OECD and WTO regularly support the G20 Presidency in working up and analysing specific issues.

Chancellor Angela Merkel also met with civil society representatives ahead of the G20 Summit in Hamburg. The dialogue formats addressed business (Business20), non-governmental organisations (Civil20), trade unions (Labour20), science (Science20), think tanks (Think20), women (Women20) and youth (Youth20). This dialogue between civil society and the German Government was intended to provide an opportunity to discuss ideas and recommendations from the stakeholders involved and to follow them up where appropriate.