Stewart M. Patrick

The Internationalist

Patrick assesses the future of world order, state sovereignty, and multilateral cooperation.

Print Print Email Email Share Share Cite Cite
Style: MLA APA Chicago Close

loading...

The G20: What We Thinktank It Should Do

by Stewart M. Patrick
March 1, 2012

Speakers, including Stewart Patrick, at the Mexican Think20 meeting. Speakers, including Stewart Patrick, at the Mexican Think20 meeting.

As host of this year’s Group of Twenty (G20) summit, the Mexican government is diligently finalizing the agenda that world leaders will consider in Los Cabos (June 18-19). Earlier this week I was in sunny Mexico City, helping advise Mexico’s G20 sherpa, Deputy Foreign Minister Lourdes Aranda, on summit priorities. I did so as part of a new “Think20” network of think tank experts from around the world—the brainchild of the Canadian Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). The consultation, cohosted by the Mexican Foreign Ministry and the Mexican Council on Foreign Relations (COMEXI), offered a rare chance to weigh in on the future of the world’s “premier forum for global economic coordination.”  The G20 has a tall task ahead of it, and needs to focus its agenda. Here’s the Internationalist’s take on its priorities for Los Cabos:

Stabilize and Reform the Global Economic and Financial System

  • Insulate the world economy from the eurozone crisis. This is job one, and it involves two complementary steps. First, the G20 must continue—as it did at the Cannes summit last November and more recently at the finance ministers’ meeting in late February—to press the Europeans to increase the war chest of the European Financial Stability Facility so that they can prevent sovereign default in Greece and other eurozone countries. In parallel, G20 members must create a firewall around the eurozone—by increasing the resources of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to provide emergency assistance to protect countries from spillovers from Europe. Many of the big emerging economies are prepared to increase the IMF’s coffers. Whether the United States is willing to do its part, particularly in an election year, remains unclear.
  • Deliver on global financial regulation. The biggest objective here is to strengthen the capabilities and authority of the Financial Stability Board (FSB), so that it can harmonize regulations across sovereign jurisdictions, as well as exercise a stronger surveillance function over systemically important financial institutions. Bolstering the FSB now is critical, at a time when the powerful financial services industry is pushing back against sensible regulation in multiple G20 countries. With the credit crisis still fresh in politicians’ minds, Mexico can help deliver a stronger FSB in Los Cabos.
  • Accelerate governance reforms within the international financial institutions. The system of weighted voting within the IMF, World Bank, and regional development banks, as well as their governance structures, must be adjusted to reflect ongoing shifts in global economic power. Of course, any such shifts must be linked to tangible financial contributions by major emerging economies. Since this reapportionment will create losers (notably in Europe), it is likely to take several years. But the Los Cabos summit should move the ball forward.

Promote “Green Growth” and Food Security

  • Forge consensus on the meaning of “green growth.” Although it’s a nice phrase, “green growth” remains a nebulous concept. Depending on one’s perspective, it can mean environmental protection, development cooperation, people-centered growth, or energy security. Right now different interest groups and policy communities are talking past one another—and G20 nations themselves are divided on the meaning and desirability of the concept. In the run-up to Los Cabos, the Mexican government must embed the vision of “green growth” firmly within the Pittsburgh framework for Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth.
  • Build coherence between the G20 summit and the Rio+20 conference. The G20 leaders’ summit in Los Cabos will occur immediately before the UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio. This so-called “Earth Summit” has such a massive agenda, with so many voices, that it could be a real train wreck. The G20 can serve as a valuable “pre-negotiation” forum to forge common positions on critical questions, to ensure that expectations for Rio are realistic, and that its action plan is practical.
  • Take the long view on food security. The G20’s attention to food security has focused on mitigating short-term volatility, including steps to reduce speculation, eliminate agricultural subsidies, and introduce transparency into food commodity markets. The G20 needs to complement these steps with longer-term structural efforts to increase agricultural productivity. This is critical, because the world faces dire long-term trends. Given population growth and changing dietary preferences of surging middle classes, the demand for food will double over the next forty years. But doubling agricultural production will wreak extraordinary ecological havoc unless we change patterns of production and consumption. In feeding ourselves, we risk killing the planet. G20 vice-ministers of agriculture plan to meet in April and May, but this item merits higher-level attention. It must be placed on leaders’ agenda in June.

Improve the G20’s Performance

  • Keep the summit itself as informal as possible. To make the transition from a crisis management committee to an enduring steering group for the global economy, the G20 will need to develop a robust network of multilateral working groups, at the ministerial and deputies level. The summits themselves, however, should remain as informal as possible, with maximum opportunity for open and candid dialogue rather than the reading of scripted remarks. Although some have called for creation of a formal G20 secretariat, most member states have wisely resisted this step, fearing that such a body could take on a life of its own. The United States government, for example, opposes a secretariat, not because it seeks to downgrade the G20 but precisely because it treasures the G20 as a flexible, leader-driven framework of international cooperation.
  • Expand the G20 Agenda. The recent informal meeting of G20 foreign ministers—and their decision to continue meeting along a separate track—is an important step forward in global governance. To date, the G20 has been dominated by finance ministers and central bank chiefs. With the engagement of foreign ministers, the G20 is likely to evolve into a more general purpose global coordinating body. After all, the very logic that applies to financial issues—the need to have the world’s most important developed and developing countries at the table—also applies to a wider array of political and security matters, from climate change to governance to nuclear proliferation.
  • Recognize the value that think tanks bring to the G20 process. Such a recommendation is admittedly self-serving, coming from a think tank “expert” himself. But the “Think20” experience underscores how useful outside expertise can be to overwhelmed policymakers. At their best, think tanks can provide independent analytical capabilities, fresh insights, and practical policy ideas. Unlike government officials, who confront the “tyranny of the in-box,” think tanks can call attention not only to the “urgent” but also the “important” items that would otherwise be neglected. They can also speak truth to power, since they are less hampered by diplomatic niceties and political sensitivities. Here’s hoping that Russia, which takes over the reins of the G20 on December 1,2012 will be as receptive as Mexico to what the Think20 has to offer.

Post a Comment 3 Comments

  • Posted by Kir Komrik

    Thanks for another great article on multilateral activities around the globe.

    You mentioned the matter of the EU:

    “Insulate the world economy from the eurozone crisis. This is job one, and it involves two complementary steps. First, the G20 must continue—as it did at the Cannes summit last November and more recently at the finance ministers’ meeting in late February—to press the Europeans to increase the war chest of the European Financial Stability Facility so that they can prevent sovereign default in Greece and other eurozone countries. In parallel, G20 members must create a firewall around the eurozone—by increasing the resources of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) to provide emergency assistance to protect countries from spillovers from Europe. Many of the big emerging economies are prepared to increase the IMF’s coffers. Whether the United States is willing to do its part, particularly in an election year, remains unclear.”

    While it may be outside the purview of the G20, which is in fact part of my argument, greater legal symmetry across EU member states is needed immediately. Lack of a federal system of global rule of law means that responses to world crises are half-hearted and of limited scope. Again, I’d point out that the G20 is a far cry even from a Confederation, much less an effective, comprehensive legal and ecomomic body for addressing global issues, such as economic downturn.

    I like to believe that we are capable of learning from past mistakes but time, experience and learning has convinced me that this is just not the case. We know from past experience that weak approaches from agencies such as the G20 has seldom had much substantial, long-term effect.

    By supporting Epic Fail are we diluting our better efforts and consequently denying the world a global rule of law?

    “Recognize the value that think tanks bring to the G20 process. Such a recommendation is admittedly self-serving, coming from a think tank “expert” himself. But the “Think20” experience underscores how useful outside expertise can be to overwhelmed policymakers. At their best, think tanks can provide independent analytical capabilities, fresh insights, and practical policy ideas. Unlike government officials, who confront the “tyranny of the in-box,” think tanks can call attention not only to the “urgent” but also the “important” items that would otherwise be neglected. They can also speak truth to power, since they are less hampered by diplomatic niceties and political sensitivities. Here’s hoping that Russia, which takes over the reins of the G20 on December 1,2012 will be as receptive as Mexico to what the Think20 has to offer.”

    I like this point and I think it is demonstrably true. While you’ve aptly described the advantages of filtering information and knowledge in the artifacts you produce, have you considered how you can filter what comes into your own think tank in such a manner as to promote the greater probability that ideas of the greatest merit will promote naturally within the ranks?

    - kk

    kirkomrik.wordpress.com

  • Posted by Karen Hudes

    Dear Stewart,

    I have been writing you these many years about an impending currency war, predicted by an accurate stakeholder analysis that also predicted in 2004 that the US would lose the Gentlemen’s Agreement for appointment of the World Bank’s President if the US did not com. ply with the Articles of Agreement of the World Bank. As a lawyer in the World Bank’s legal department, I am calling upon the International Organization of Supreme Audit Institutions, the three credit rating agencies, and the International Organization of Securities Commissions to bring the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development into compliance on the world’s securities markets

  • Posted by Mark J. Wagner

    In recent years, very disturbing pattern of man made natural phenomenons, disasters, is unfolding in front of our eyes.

    General public is unaware about the truth (crimes against humanity) behind experiments on Earth’s magnetic field. In 2004, quarter million of people have perished in deadly tsunami, which devastated Asia. Last year, in March, another disaster (man made) have struck Japan, claiming human lives, and even ecological, nuclear contamination. The impact was detectable thousands of miles away, and as far, as North Pole, causing damage (significant crevice) in the  structural integrity of a glacier.

    Another social development (not new, yet, increasing in intensity) is an ability to influence human judgement, free will, through implementation of subliminal manipulation. Modern technology, despite its positive impact, is also used to undermine the very basic and fundamental quality of human existence – free will.

    Dear friends, please spread the word, inform your friends, family members, co-workers about modern threats we ought to face, to avoid future disasters, and human suffering on global scale.

    Please support, An Open Letter to the United Nations Human Rights Council and say NO TO THE WEAPON OF MASS DESTRUCTION, Link:

    http://www.zhibit.org/mjw23/united-nations-human-rights-council,

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/67148949/United-Nations-Human-Rights-Council), and demand answers from political, social, religious leaders, scientists, governments, artists, etc.
    It’s important, as important as your own existence, quality of life, and most of all, your right to exercise free will.

    Sincerely,
    Mark J. Wagner

    E-mail: q7q7mark@gmai.com
    Tel: 048 724 604 254
    Website: http://www.zhibit.org/mjw23/united-nations-human-rights-council

    United Nations
    Human Rights Council
    UN Human Rights Policy
    The United Declaration of Human Rights

    Mark J. Wagner (February 15, 2011)
    ul. Kazimierza Wielkiego 7/5
    44/100 Gliwice
    Poland

    Telephone: 048 724 604 254
    E-mail: q7q7mark@gmail.com

    The fundamental demand of our time is to protect human life, dignity, and free will as an expression of humanistic, transcendental values for every man, who exists on earth, and those who will come. Without it, human life will be incomplete, and entire population will be driven by new form of slavery, extreme existential dependency based on judgment of just a few, who are driven by an opportunistic motivations to enforce their own vision on entire human civilization. As we all know from history, human perception can be formed through skillful manipulation, and often results are tragic, painful.

    Man’s awareness shall be formed through education, example, and by following ethical, moral, spiritual code of behavior. Understanding principals and expanding awareness about self, as well as social interdependency, which is not limited to any geographical area, is paramount in terms of human social evolution. Today I ask myself, what is the statement of our times? How much do we understand human nature, and what is the direction we are willing to choose, but most of all, how we shape our personal and interconnected status quo, and destination. Social responsibility can be expanded and implemented by reinforcement of law, even through technological means, but only by meaningful implementation of education and personalized approach, perspective toward all aspects of human existence, expansion of frame of awareness make sense and create solid ethical base on which progress is achievable. Every alternative will multiply difficulties, promote injustice, and even reinforce pathology.

    We must realize simple fact, the quality of human life, civilization depend on each of us, every day, through individual imprint, free will of every human being who exist on Earth.
    I want to emphasize the importance of free human will. The status quo is changing, but universal values, manifestation of higher intelligence, divine testimony, expression, don’t.

    Life is evolving into more advanced form, with constantly expanding awareness, but real progress can be achieved only through free will and personal choice. I strongly believe, human is destined to do great deeds, and human fabric of life is made from positive, beautiful threads of goodness. We can reinforce any message we want, but we shall reinforce message of justice, righteousness, equality, wisdom, tolerance.

    The blueprint of awareness is manifested by spontaneous understanding of what is right, and what is wrong, and the statement of our times should vividly express what we want to achieve, and how we want to be perceived on global scale. Despite natural tendency to comply with acceptable code of behavior, we must understand our social, universal responsibility in terms of formation of human awareness. I strongly believe, the statement of our time should be protection of intellectual, existential, spiritual aspiration, by incorporating those values into the written statements, codes, articles of law, as well as protection the very basic, foundation of human existence, free will.

    * UN Human Rights Policy.
    Please expand and incorporate into The United Declaration of Human Rights, article protecting free will, and against subliminal manipulation through technological means, social media.

    * Free Will (Free Will vs. Subliminal Messages).
    Free will and human response shall not be compromised by attempts of evident manipulation, especially by technological means, information technology, (IT), social media (TV, radio, internet), nanotechnology, subliminal messages (IT, TV, radio, internet). Progressive utilization of subliminal methods is evident, few examples: information technology, cellular telephone technology, internet technology (sound and computer screen projection of subliminal messages ), TV technology by utilization of subliminal messages through sound and screen projection, nanotechnology by utilization of tiny mechanisms into the human body. All of those means, tools, are designed and implemented to influence in profound way human behavior, response, and to create man without her/his own will, choice, self-expression, individuality. Human being without free will, represent biological substance, organic slave.

    * Human is Good. (Self-perception).
    Human is good. Proactive implementation, reinforcement of self-perception as positive force. The great majority of human population follows positive examples, code of ethics, spiritual teachings embedded into the fabric of human existence, experience. Statistical, institutional and governmental data support above statement.

    * Social Media.
    The purpose of social media phenomenon is to promote dialog, understanding, tolerance, and progress through technological means such as internet, (Facebook, and other similar sites). Gathering information, personal, social, cultural, behavioral profiling by third parties, institutions and governmental agencies is unacceptable and illegal.

    * Weaponized Nature, Climate Global Weather Phenomenons.
    The purpose of nature, all laws of nature, is to protect, maintain life as we know it. Graceful efficiency, delicate balance allowed organic, aware and unaware existence to flourish since the creation. Human is not only extraordinary in every aspect of universal expression, man also represent ultimate dependency, interconnected bond between internal and external existence. Civilization extend its influence through intelligence, choices, sophisticated tools, but most of all, frame of awareness, the very foundation defining progress or the opposite, formed spiritually, through ethical, moral standards implemented on personal, local, global level. Nature is pure, sensitive and fantastically efficient. Self-contained, propelled by sequential motion of procreation is no more, no less, than miraculous expression, practical and infinitely beautiful, and the beneficient is you, in every second, minute, hour of your life. Nature shall be protected from any influence, attempt to create artificial climate phenomenons.

    Weaponized Nature manifest modern mutation toward crimes against humanity.

    Weaponized Nature, Artificial Weather Phenomenons is unacceptable, immoral, and against spiritual, ethical, moral standards.

    In ever changing world, earth, universe was created, shaped with one purpose, to enhance human experience, and meaning of life to promote co-existence with all living things, aware and unaware.

    Human freedom without free will becomes meaningless phrase. Awareness and Free Will is the most sophisticated manifestation of life as we know it, and must be protected from any threats.

    Thank you,
    Mark J. Wagner

Post a Comment

CFR seeks to foster civil and informed discussion of foreign policy issues. Opinions expressed on CFR blogs are solely those of the author or commenter, not of CFR, which takes no institutional positions. All comments must abide by CFR's guidelines and will be moderated prior to posting.

* Required

Pingbacks