In the ramp-up to the next G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, SDSN Germany Executive Director Adolf Kloke-Lesch argues for a revisited self-understanding of the G20 that allows for the Agenda 2030 to find its application both outside and within the group of member countries.

Despite the value of the Group of Twenty in promoting consensus within the 20 strongest economies worldwide, it remains to be seen whether its true transformational power also applies to the Agenda 2030 and the Sustainable Development Goals that the group endorsed an action plan for under the Chinese presidency in Hangzhou last year. Changing political orientations in government, and individual members’ vetoes have in the past led to low-key solutions significantly below the potential of a group as powerful as the G20. Local crises in over a third of the member states have taken away their attention from the overarching, global agenda, the Agenda 2030.

The upcoming meeting in Hamburg needs to be used as an opportunity for the group to remind itself and global society of the commitments made in Brisbane, Antalya, and Hangzhou, that promised to significantly lower the gap between male and female employment rates, reduce youth exclusion from the labor market and take effective action on climate change.
To effectively tackle these challenges, Kloke-Lesch proposes to let go of the aspiration of perfect consensus and instead promote sub-group solutions where they can make a difference. The 2030 Agenda offers a valuable opportunity for this model, but only under the condition that G20 states recognize it as a framework for both developing and developed nations and thus fully embrace it.

Still, some institutional structures like the Development Working Group (DWG) hinder this approach’s fruition, being that it is still struggling with an institutionalized traditional development model that is grappling with its new role of enhancing the group’s role in promoting sustainable development worldwide. The Agenda 2030 needs to be converted into a concept of holistic importance for the G20 in itself, rather than an extension of traditional cooperation for development.

Hamburg’s meeting will need to reinforce the importance and application of the Sustainable Development Goals, emphasizing that for their achievement, G20 commitments must play an important role for its member’s domestic policies at any time. Still, the group should not limit itself to solutions based on perfect consensus but can promote important impacts even if that entails only a subgroup of its members.

Read the full article here in English or German.