The annual Group of 20 summit meeting, which brings together President Biden and other world leaders, is intended to foster global economic cooperation. But with so many top officials in one place, it also serves as an all-purpose jamboree of nonstop formal and informal diplomatic activity.
This year’s meeting takes place in Rome on Saturday and Sunday and is expected to cover issues like climate change, the global supply chain, the pandemic and the chaotic withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan. If the members can reach consensus on such subjects, they will produce an official joint declaration at the end.
Here is a look at what the Group of 20 is and does, and some of the important things to watch during the two-day summit.
What is the G20?
The Group of 20 is an organization of finance ministers and central bank governors from 19 individual countries and the European Union.
In addition to the United States, those countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey. Collectively, its members represent more than 80 percent of the world’s economic output.
Established in 1999 after a series of major international debt crises, the G20 aims to unite world leaders around shared economic, political and health challenges. It is a creation of the more select Group of 7, an informal bloc of industrialized democracies.
Supporters argue that as national economies grow ever more globalized, it is essential that political and finance leaders work closely together.
What is the G20 summit?
Formally the “Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy,” the G20 meeting is an annual gathering of finance ministers and heads of state representing the members.
It bills itself as the “premier forum for international economic cooperation.” The heads of state first convened officially in November 2008 as the global financial crisis began to unfold.
The annual summit meeting is hosted by the nation holding the rotating presidency; this year, it’s Italy.
What happens at a G20 summit?
It is focused on several core issues around which its leaders hope to reach a consensus for collective action.
The goal is to conclude the two-day gathering by issuing a joint statement committing its members to action, although the declaration is not legally binding. But one-on-one meetings can overshadow official business.