This year, the G7 Elmau and G20 Bali agendas are very much aligned, but with factors at play that threaten to erode this synergy, further work on collaboration and consensus on commitments is required
The G7 and G20 have worked together to strengthen the success of each by maintaining the coherence of their agendas. They share the commitment to developing a united and ambitious approach to responding to the most pressing global problems and building synergy to find solutions to the problems they face. The decisions made at the G7 summits are used to energise the negotiations between the developed and emerging economies in the G20.
This year, the G7’s priority agenda under the German presidency is very much in line with the G20 agenda under the Indonesian presidency. The German presidency has set five main agenda priorities: the creation of a sustainable planet, economic stability and transformation, a healthy life, investment in a better future and becoming stronger together. The Indonesian presidency has prioritised three agenda items: the global health architecture, digital transformation and energy transition. Core attention is paid particularly to the global health and economic crises caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and climate change and to the 2030 Agenda on the Sustainable Development Goals.
The two presidencies highly value the inclusiveness at the heart of the G20 process. Indonesia proudly presents “Recover Together, Recover Stronger” as the theme of the G20 presidency, and Germany makes “Stronger Together” the fifth priority agenda of the G7. Both share the conviction that their forums must deliver benefits for both members and non-members.
The war corrodes the synergy
The current crises of the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and slowing growth apparently have brought the G7 and G20 together to find the best strategies to support economic recovery. Unfortunately, the Russian-Ukrainian war has seriously undermined the recovery and derailed the good progress already made by the G7 presidency and the G20 presidency during their first months.
The atmosphere of collaboration among the G20 members has been eroding since this geopolitical tension emerged in February 2022. While G7 members tend to be unified in responding to the war, G20 members have been sharply divided, particularly in response to the question of Russia’s participation in G20 meetings.
Some G7 leaders demand the suspension of Russia’s membership in the G20 and have repeatedly presented their plans to boycott the G20 Bali Summit in November 2022 if President Vladimir Putin attends. In contrast, China has reinforced its clear position that the G20 must focus on its priority agenda and allow Russia to continue its participation.
Indonesia does not want the G20 to become the G19 or to fall apart under its presidency. Nor does Indonesia wish the G20 to fail in adopting a leaders’ declaration at the Bali Summit.
Indonesia thus allows Russian representatives to join G20 meetings and has decided not to cancel its invitation to the Russian president, which had already been dispatched prior to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February. Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has also invited Ukraine’s President Volodymyr Zelensky to attend the Bali Summit, along with all leaders of G20 members and other invited countries.
To respond to G7 leaders’ reservations about Russian participation, the Indonesian presidency allows G20 members to express their harsh condemnation of the Russian invasion during their interventions at the G20 meetings or to walk out when the Russian representative makes an intervention.
The Bali Summit matters
The G7 and G20 must work together to boost the success of both for the rest of this year. The G7 Elmau Summit and the G20 Bali Summit must lay a strong foundation for securing a better future. However, building a consensus in the G20 is obviously much more challenging than reaching agreement in the G7, due to the disunity among the G20 members.
The Bali Summit matters. It will conclude a series of negotiations between the developed and emerging economies throughout the year, hopefully with an agreed consensus on the collective efforts to strengthen the economic recovery as well as the renewal of the pledge for tackling climate change with more concrete measures.
The Bali Summit will also agree on workable solutions to address the deteriorating global economy caused by the war and to help the Ukrainian people rebuild their country better. In particular, the summit will provide room for negotiation among the G20 members to find the most strategic solution to the energy crisis, including by forcing Russia to accept a new consensus on energy trading. The consensus on energy is necessary to address the dependence on Russian energy. G20 members can also exert their influence directly on the peace process, including by pushing Russia to help rebuild Ukraine.
The G7 summit at Schloss Elmau will acquire a high added value if G7 leaders can boost a similar advance at the G20 Bali Summit. The Elmau Summit will encourage G7 members to work together with other developed and emerging economies in building consensus on the commitments to be declared at the Bali Summit. In the context of geopolitical and geo-economic uncertainties, the attendance of G7 leaders at the Bali Summit will maintain the G20’s confidence as an advocate of multilateralism.