What Happened at the G20?

Initial Analysis of the London Summit

G20 leaders met for the second time in London on 2 April, as the global economic crisis began to crash across the borders of poor countries with ever-greater severity. Oxfam’s research shows rising human impacts in the shape of job losses, falling remittances to the families of migrant workers and a particularly severe impact on women workers in global supply chains. Based on the latest forecasts, published on the eve of the summit, Oxfam estimates that the crisis could push 100 million people into poverty in 2009 alone.

Against this backdrop, how did the G20 leaders perform? After a summit, leaders invariably claim success, seeking to extract the maximum political mileage from their efforts. This paper provides an independent assessment of the G20 process and the three documents released on the day of the summit.

Our overall analysis is that the Summit itself could prove an historic moment in a critical year for the twin crises of climate change and economic meltdown. It could mark a global power shift towards the large developing countries such as China, India and Brazil, and the partial eclipse of the old G8 club. The decisions and declarations were, as with any such event, a mixed bag.

The G20 ended on a note of high optimism that the rich countries were prepared to dig deep to find a significant fiscal stimulus to help poor people and countries, and that the ‘casino capitalism’ of the last 35 years was to be reined in, and the vital role of states in promoting equity and economic justice be fully acknowledged.

The test of the Summit lies in what happens next, particularly in the crucial rounds of global diplomacy during the rest of 2009.