In the past years, the Group of 20 (G20) has become a key actor in international politics: the G20 are the 20 leading industrial countries and emerging economies. This informal arrangement was created in the wake of the Asian crisis in 1999 to coordinate reform policies on the international financial system such as tighter regulation of financial markets. Today, the G20 are discussing a long list of global political challenges. These challenges cannot be dealt with by the G20 alone but demand the involvement and participation of all sectors of society. Civil society organizations have been active to engage with the G20 since the first G20 Summit in 2008 in Washington, DC. A more structured process of civil society representation as ‘Civil 20’ or ‘C20’ was first facilitated by Russian civil society organizations during the Russian presidency in 2013. Since then, civil society organizations have engaged regularly with the G20 and the respective G20 Presidencies under the umbrella of the C20, depending on the local conditions in the host country.
The C20 main objective is to facilitate a structured and sustained exchange of critical reflection and political perspectives amongst civil society in G20 countries and beyond on the G20 agenda. In the past there has been a strong focus on advancing reforms of the global finance architecture and other G20 priorities as well as demanding a paradigm shift in the political approach of the G20 towards globalization to a truly sustainable and inclusive development. As we see it today, globalization is incompatible with the objectives of sustainable development, and contributes to rising inequality and human rights violations worldwide. Civil society coming together under the C20 is thus urging a major overhaul of the political rules shaping economic and financial globalization to address the plight of the poorest and most disadvantaged members of society.
For the German G20 presidency in 2017 to make the G20 Summit in Hamburg a flagship opportunity for civil society inclusion and accountability, it needs to strengthen institutional structures and mechanisms to increase the effective participation of civil society organizations and provide concrete opportunities to engage with the different G20 work streams und during the G20 Summit itself. Civil society organizations call upon their right to contribute to the G20 process in their own right with C20 policy recommendations, and to monitor and evaluate the implementation of G20 commitments.