The G-20 has largely focused on the financial crisis but development has earned a place in its agenda through a consensus the intergovernmental group adopted in its last meeting in Seoul.
As G-20 leaders prepare for their upcoming summit in France this week, World Bank President Robert Zoellick discusses and debunks what he describes as five myths about the intergovernmental group:
The G-20 is not made up of just 20 countries. Hosts often invite more countries to the join the summit, which is also attended by representatives of the European Council and European Commission, the United Nations and other international organizations. The countries attending the summit are the world’s richest, accounting for approximately 85 percent of the world’s total gross domestic product.
The group was not created in 2008 after the fall of the Lehman Brothers. It was born in 1999 following the Asian financial crisis as a move by some finance ministers to give developing countries a greater voice in debates over global economic policies.
The G-20 does produce significant action, though the jury is still out on whether the group does more talking than acting. The 2009 summit in London, for instance, produced a $1.1 trillion global recovery plan.
The G-20 is not a global government. It is an informal steering committee that shares views and recommendations while encouraging consensus for action.
The true test for the G-20 is not its ability to prevent future financial crises but in how it can overcome the current crisis.
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