G8/G20 Frequently Asked Questions
From the InterAction Website
Who are the G8 and G20 members?
The G8 countries make up 12.8 percent of the global population and 42.6 percent of worldwide GDP (Purchasing Power Parity). The G20 countries account for 64.2 percent of the world’s population and 83.2 percent of global GDP.
What are the G8 and G20 Summits?
The Group of Eight (G8) nations are made up of the world’s eight most industrialized countries. It was initially a group of six large nations assembled by France in 1975 and a year later expanded to include Canada. Russia was invited to join two decades later in 1997 and the grouping was renamed the G8.
The G8 was initially a forum for economic and trade matters, although political and foreign policy challenges have since been added to the agenda. Recent summits have discussed, among other topics, food security, maternal and child health, global security, Middle East peace and reconstruction in Iraq. G8 members formulate policies and set objectives, but compliance is voluntary. Most of the G8’s influence comes from the political and economic clout of its members – Britain, France, Germany, the United States, Japan, Canada, Italy and Russia.
The G8 is led by a rotating one-year presidency, and has no headquarters, budget or permanent staff. It thus serves as an informal but exclusive body whose members set out to address global challenges through discussion and action. The leaders of the G8 countries meet each spring for an annual summit, which is being hosted this year by the United States.
The Group of Twenty (G20) is officially known as “The Group of Twenty Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors.” It is made up of finance ministers and central bank governors from 19 major economies, plus the European Union. The G20 was proposed in 1998 by Canada, with the goal of consulting and cooperating on issues related to the international financial system. The first G20 meeting took place in Berlin in December 2009. In many ways, the G20 has replaced the G8 as the main economic council, allowing the smaller grouping to focus on other issues.
The G20 Summit was created in 2008 in response to the financial crisis and the recognition that key emerging countries were not adequately included in the global economic discussion. The heads of state usually meet at least once a year under the G20 banner.
Just like the G8, the G20 operates without any permanent secretariat or staff. Chairmanship of the group rotates annually and is selected from a different regional grouping of countries. The chair is part of a revolving three-part management group called the Troika, which includes the current chair, the chair from the previous year and the future chair. The Troika serves to ensure continuity in the G20’s work.
At the Pittsburgh G20 Summit of 2009, the heads of state tasked the G20 finance ministers to work on specific issues. The issue are: Framework for Strong, Sustainable, and Balanced Growth; Strengthening the International Financial Regulatory System; Modernizing our Global Institutions to Reflect Today’s Global Economy; Reforming the Mandate, Mission, and Governance of the IMF; Reforming the Mission, Mandate, and Governance of Development Banks; Energy Security and Climate Change; Strengthening Support for the Most Vulnerable; Putting Quality Jobs at the Heart of the Recovery; and An Open Global Economy.
What poverty-focused and humanitarian issues have the G8 and G20 Summits recently addressed?
Both the G8 and G20 have addressed poverty and humanitarian issues in the past. In recent years, a growing number of international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) have been invited to attend the summits. Notable G8 initiatives include the 2010 Muskoka Accountability Report; the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Under-Five Child Health and the 2009 L’Aquila Food Security Initiative. Listed are development related issues that were recently on G8 and G20 Summit agendas.
G8 – Italy, 2009 – Achievement of Millennium Development Goals; African Development; Food Security
G8 – Japan, 2008 – African Development; Food Crisis
G8 – Germany, 2007 – Africa: good governance, sustainable investment, peace and security
G8 – Russia, 2006 – Education priorities for developed nations
G20 – Seoul, 2010 – Development Issues, Global Financial Safety Nets
G20 – Toronto, 2010 – International aid to Africa; corruption and security in Afghanistan; durable, balanced and sustainable growth