Explainer: What is the G20 summit?


Extended coverage: The G20 summitExplainer: Who gets invited to the G20 summit, and why?The greatest G20 gaffesWhat is the G20?

G20, which stands for Group of Twenty, is an assembly of governments and leaders from 20 of the world’s largest economies: 19 countries – Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Republic of Korea, Mexico, Russian Federation, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States – and the European Union.


Why are more countries not included?

Non-member countries can be invited to take part in summits but there is a belief that inviting more to join the G20 itself would make decision-making too difficult.

When was the G20 formed?

The G20 was formed in September 1999 following the Asian Financial Crisis.

What is the G20 summit?

The Leaders’ Summit is where government leaders from G20 countries come together to discuss global financial matters. The first Leaders’ Summit was held in Washington DC in 2008 to deal with fallout of the Global Financial Crisis.

The idea was originally conceived by former Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin.

Meetings are held each year and take place over two days in the country of the group’s current president. This year the host country is Australia and next year Turkey.

There is also an associated meeting of finance ministers and central bankers, which takes place multiple times a year. The last of these meetings was in Cairns in September and another will be held in Sydney in February. 

What is discussed at G20 Summits?

The group usually discusses the financial matters of most importance at the time of meeting. Since the summit’s beginning, that has largely been the aftermath of the recession, but this year’s summit will focus more on growth, as outlined on the G20 2014 website:

“Over the past five years, the G20 has framed the world’s efforts to restore growth and build the resilience of financial institutions and national economies. It led the world out of an economic crisis and through the initial stages of the recovery,” the website states.

“With the world now free from immediate economic crisis, the G20 can increasingly shift its attention to driving practical actions that will lead to sustained global growth.”

Where is this year’s G20 Summit being held?

The 2014 summit will be held at the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre in Brisbane, Queensland.

When is it? 

November 15 and 16. There will be a one-off public holiday in Brisbane on Friday, November 14. 

Who’s coming?

This year’s G20 Summit is a huge event, with 4000 delegates and 3000 media representatives expected to turn up. 

What controversy surrounds the 2014 summit?

The inclusion of Russia in the G20 event has caused division among the group members with some countries – such as Australia – arguing President Vladimir Putin should not be welcome. However, Mr Putin is expected to come, and Prime Minister Tony Abbott in October promised to “shirtfront” him over the MH17 tragedy and Russia’s response to it. After his use of language made international headlines, Mr Abbott on Tuesday changed his tone, saying he would engage Mr Putin in a “robust” discussion.

Climate change was taken off the agenda for discussion at this year’s G20 after Tony Abbott said he didn’t want talks to be “cluttered” with issues not relating to economic growth, causing reported discontent among countries such as the United States and members of the European Union.

More than 100 peaceful protesters turned out at the G20 finance meeting in Cairns in September calling for climate change to be put back on the agenda and for Australia to adopt 100 per cent clean energy by 2050. Similar demonstrations are expected at the Leaders’ Summit and security will be tight.

It is estimated that hosting the event will cost Australia more than AU$400 million.

Why should we care?

The decisions made by the G20 will affect people the world over. And, if you’re in Brisbane, you can expect road closures and difficulties finding a park. More information on transport changes in the Queensland capital can be found here.