The G20 is the forum for economic cooperation among the world's 19 largest economies, along with the European Union, and as of 2023, the African Union. With an annual rotating presidency, the G20 operates in yearly cycles, involving various ministerial and technical meetings that culminate in the summit of heads of state and government. In Brazil, the G20 summit will be held in Rio de Janeiro on November 18th and 19th, 2024.
History of the G20
The group was established in the context of the Asian economic crisis, which spread to other emerging markets in the late 1990s. The G20 was created as an informal forum for coordination among Ministers of Economy and Finance and Central Bank leaders.
The macroeconomic imbalance, originating and spreading in Asia and Latin America, highlighted the necessity of including developing countries in discussions concerning international economic and financial stability, thereby expanding discussions that were previously held only within the scope of the G7/G8.
Elevated to a summit meeting since 2008, following the most severe global economic crisis since 1929, the group's significance is evident in numbers: its members collectively represent approximately 85% of the world's GDP, over 75% of international trade, and about two-thirds of the global population.
While in the past, the group emerged to provide responses to crises, today it serves as a privileged space to anticipate instabilities and create joint solutions in areas ranging from trade to tourism, culture to climate change.
G20 in Brazil
For Brazil, leadership within the G20 represents an opportunity for international reintegration through a high-level economic forum in which the country has traditionally made active contributions. This potential for leadership extends beyond the G20, as Brazil will subsequently host COP30 in 2025.
Under the Brazilian presidency, the G20 adopts the motto "Building a Fair World and a Sustainable Planet," focusing on three priority themes: energy transition, fair sustainable development (with an emphasis on combating hunger, poverty, and inequality), and reform of multilateral institutions.
Affirming its commitment, Brazil announced the creation of two work-force for the G20 – the Global Alliance Against Hunger and Poverty and the Global Mobilization against Climate Change –, and an initiative of bioeconomy. Finance-related discussions, coordinated by the Ministry of Finance, will address topics such as financing to combat climate change, national debt renegotiation, tax progressivity, and reform of the governance of international financial institutions.
The G20, both in its composition and scope, holds the potential to shape the history of Brazilian foreign policy, creating a positive legacy starting from the Rio de Janeiro Summit, the capital of the G20.
Structure of the G20
The G20's structure is innovative in that it lacks a fixed secretariat. The coordination of activities is led by a rotating member annually. Consequently, this member holds a certain capacity to set the group's agenda. Alongside this member, the country that chaired the group in the previous year and the one assuming leadership in the following year form a troika: a tripartite structure that monitors discussions to ensure continuity. In 2023, for example, the troika was formed by Indonesia, which chaired the group in 2022, India, leading in 2023, and Brazil, assuming the position in December 2023.
Below the secretariat coordinated by the presidency, the G20 organizes around two negotiation tracks, led by two different bodies: the Sherpa Track and the Finance Track.
Sherpa Track and Finance Track
The Sherpa Track, covering socio-economic issues, falls under the responsibility of the Ministries of Foreign Affairs. The Finance Track, dedicated to economic policy matters, is led by the Ministries of Economy, Finance, Treasury, or their equivalents. Each track comprises working groups, initiatives, and task forces that formulate recommendations, commission technical studies, and advise the ministers and heads of government of the members.
The G20 also includes institutionalized spaces for the participation of civil society, local governments, and other relevant institutions that make recommendations to negotiators through Engagement Groups. Among these groups are the Think 20, composed of think tanks and academic institutions; the Business 20, comprising representatives from the private sector; and the Civil 20, formed by civil society organizations from G20 countries.
Given the autonomy within the G20, during the Indian presidency in 2023, an additional working group was created in the Sherpa Track—the Disaster Risk Reduction group—and a new engagement group, the Startup 20, focused on new businesses and the digital economy.
Upon assuming the presidency, Brazil included the Ocean 20 in these groups, recognizing the importance of the marine ecosystem and increasing the visibility of the agenda to mobilize financial and human resources for its conservation.