Global Governance | Readout and Recommendations

Evolution of the G Groupings: A Progress Check

December 2010


The Stanley Center convened about 20 governmental and nongovernmental officials from a number of countries on October 14–16, 2010, to examine the practical evolution of the G summits and related processes.

Participants compared the trajectories of the G-8 and G-20 now that the two groupings have coexisted for two years. The emergence of the G-20 as a summit-level forum for established and rising powers has been dramatic—forged in the midst of the financial meltdown and convening five times in rapid succession. Faced with difficult issues, they have struggled to repeat their initial success in mounting a joint response to the 2008 economic downturn.

In advance of the November 11–12 G-20 summit in Seoul, tensions were building over currency valuations—confronting the Seoul meeting with the challenge of keeping the currency dispute from deadlocking the entire event. The conference discussion voiced concern about the G-20 falling short of the expectations set for it. In that spirit, participants tried to clarify the proper function, focus, and operating mode for this still-young multilateral forum. A set of G-20 distinguishing characteristics was identified: that it convenes heads of state, brings together countries that are key players in global affairs (as well as nations from a second tier), and functions with a degree of informality.