G-Whiz: ONE steps up to the G8/G20 plate

The Group of 8 (G8) and Group of 20 (G20) grew out of “fireside chats” held in the early 1970s, when a small set of world leaders met informally in the White House library. Though world leaders have met annually since 1975, participants and their priorities continue to evolve. This year, leaders from the G8 will meet in Chicago, Ill. on May 19 and 20. The following month, the G20 countries will gather in Los Cabos, Mexico on June 18 and 19.

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Last weekend, the ball started rolling toward this year’s Summits as foreign ministers from the G20 met in Los Cabos to brainstorm. Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa, host of the meeting, hoped the meetings would lead to progress on issues such as eradicating famine and illiteracy, promoting green growth and sustainable development, and enhancing the rule of law. The meeting of the foreign ministers is an indication that the G20 may take on broader global development issues, as participation is historically limited to finance ministers. And word has it that Secretary of State Hilary Clinton met with Mexican president Felipe Calderón to discuss food security.

While the US government has not disclosed its G8 summit priorities, it has committed to releasing an accountability report focused on food security, as the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative ends this year. In this report, ONE hopes that the US government will assess itself and other donors objectively against the promises they have made: to be transparent on commitments and disbursements, encouraging of the country-led approach, strategic in their coordination, multilateral in their focus, and sustained in their financial commitments, which amounted to $22 billion over three to four years as of 2009.

Mexico’s priorities for the G20 in June include economic stabilization, strengthening the financial system and fostering financial inclusion, improving the international financial architecture, enhancing food security and promoting sustainable development.

ONE will be closely following the discussions leading up to the G8 and G20 meetings. Our priorities include promoting:

    1. Transparent and accountable financing for development,
    2. A renewed agenda on sustainable agriculture, food security and nutrition,
    3. Effective and sufficient infrastructure.

The G8 and G20 provide very useful forums for advancing the agenda on transparency and accountability. ONE is keen to see progress on transparency regarding budgets, natural resource revenue and aid. We’re also eager for efforts to build the capacity of civil society to hold governments accountable. If the G20 and G8 are able to harness the potential of the Open Government Partnership to drive progress on these issues, they may be able to kickstart a race to the top on open governance. Learn more about ONE’s transparency and accountability goals in Opening Governance: Promoting Transparent & Accountable Financing for Development (Spanish version here).

HELPFUL G8/G20 DOWNLOADS:

ONE’s Transparency and Accountability Agenda ENGLISH
ONE’s Transparency and Accountability Agenda SPANISH
ONE’s Agriculture Agenda ENGLISH
ONE’s Agriculture Agenda SPANISH
ONE’s Infrastructure Agenda ENGLISH
ONE’s Infrastructure Agenda SPANISH

Agriculture will be especially important this year because of the end of the L’Aquila Food Security Initiative. Under the Mexican presidency, ONE urges G20 members to take concrete, urgent steps to implement agreed-upon financial market reforms that can temper food price spikes that catch families around the world off guard. The G20 should identify a clear, measurable and transparent framework for achieving the Agriculture Ministers Action Plan recommendations. As the 2011 G20 Communiqué mirrors many of the L’Aquila goals, the G20 should galvanize support for global targets for the reduction of poverty and malnutrition, reaffirm its commitment to the Rome Principles, and make concrete financial commitments related to technical agricultural cooperation with least developed countries. Lastly, these meetings should galvanize responsible and sustainable private investment in agriculture. Read more about these recommendations in our agriculture policy pitch for the G20 (Spanish version here).

Access to road, energy and water infrastructure is crucial to achieving human development. But in Africa, the overall infrastructure funding gap is estimated to exceed $30 billion annually, even after implementing greater efficiency measures. To close this gap, the G8 and G20 should build upon their prior commitments to support infrastructure and work closely with African governments to seek innovative, scalable approaches that leverage public and private resources.

ONE will expect the G20 countries to deliver on their existing G20 commitments and High-Level Panel on Infrastructure recommendations. In addition, ONE will ask the G8 and G20 to expand upon existing infrastructure commitments, particularly around the removal of barriers that limit project finance flows, and to take concrete action to address energy poverty issues. ONE will look to the G20 to increase support for, and uptake of, best practice standards while also promoting Public Private Partnerships in Infrastructure. Read more (Spanish version here) about why infrastructure should be addressed at this year’s meetings.

This is just the beginning of another exciting year of G8 and G20 meetings, and we hope you will follow our coverage here on the blog and look out for opportunities to influence world leaders as we get nearer to May and June.