The business community can be a vital driving force behind implementing positive, lasting change – and Business 20 Italy 2021 has provided a roadmap to lay the foundation for such actions
As an official G20 engagement group, Business 20 Italy 2021 has pursued common values and goals through the work of over 2,000 representatives, including all major international corporations, representing a community of more than 6.5 million businesses.
More than 1,000 delegates and 2,000 participants have worked in nine task forces chaired by Italian chief executive officers and co-chaired by some 50 prominent CEOs from the other 19 G20 members. Each task force agreed by consensus to produce one policy paper on a specific topic. Our priority clusters, carried over from previous B20 cycles, were trade and investment, energy and resource efficiency, integrity and compliance, digital transformation, finance and infrastructure, employment, and education. We have added two more: health and life sciences, and sustainability and global emergencies. We also dedicated a special initiative to women’s empowerment. An Advisory Board and a Business International Caucus composed respectively of first-in-class Italian and international CEOs fed the high-level vision and helped advocate our recommendations.
Include, share, act
The B20 final declaration, which I presented to Italy’s Prime Minister Mario Draghi on 8 October, is based on these policy papers and contains ambitious and insightful policy recommendations. Our theme is “Reshape the future: include, share, act”. By “include” we mean that nobody must be left behind: people, businesses and countries will achieve truly sustainable growth only by combining diversity and inclusion, and also by leveraging digital technologies. By “share” we think of the benefits of a level playing field and of open trade in goods and services, competencies, technologies and resources. We look forward to vaccination campaigns conducted worldwide as extensively as in advanced economies, and we call on investing in sustainable financial and infrastructure ecosystems. By “act”, we strive for global resilience that is not just about weathering the storm, but also about being ready for whatever comes next, by enhancing internationally coordinated readiness actions and contingency plans. Furthermore, we think of acting strongly on accelerating the race to net zero, and of all members taking up their own responsibilities for reforming the World Trade Organization.
A new direction
The world has changed drastically over the past 20 months, with all countries dealing with one of the major crises in modern times and its profound social and economic consequences. Extreme poverty has risen for the first time in the last two decades, disparities and inequalities across individuals and countries have been further amplified, and thousands of businesses are still challenged by threats to their survival. Some countries are successfully leveraging vaccination programmes and are at the forefront of a step change. However, the persistently uneven distribution of vaccines and access to them seriously affects the rebound of global prosperity.
But there are also encouraging signals: the global economy is projected to grow by 6% this year and by 4.9% in 2022. Global trade volumes could expand by 9.7% in 2021, and by 7% in 2022. Cooperation and collaboration are now clearly perceived as the only way to address common threats, and the G20 is facing them convincingly. Businesses and governments must accomplish together the mission of navigating the complexities and prepare for challenges lying ahead. As B20 chair, I am strongly convinced that business can make the difference, and will deliver actionable recommendations to the G20 Rome Summit.
We are at a turning point for the multilateral economic order. Our mission is to be very pragmatic, and to suggest ambitious but operational and measurable actions. Thus, we made an extra effort this year compared with previous cycles. All our policy papers contain three to four leading key performance indicators. Each provides measurable indicators over time in connection with one or more Sustainable Development Goals and to the G20 Italian presidency’s ‘3Ps’ of ‘People, Planet, Prosperity’, and is being monitored along a three-year timeline, calling on the next three G20 and B20 presidencies to commit on their achievements.