This year marks the 10th anniversary of the G20’s elevation to a leaders’ forum. Since its first meeting, held against the backdrop of a financial crisis that shook the world’s economy to its foundations, the forum has gained in stature as an efficient mechanism to handle the financial and economic challenges we face. The G20 was instrumental in stabilising the world economy. Since then, its agenda has expanded to cover issues ranging from trade to climate and energy. Today, the G20 stands strong as a forum for international cooperation within the architecture of global governance. G20 host Argentine president Mauricio Macri’s invitation to the Buenos Aires Summit provides an opportunity to strengthen that role. And that is exactly what we must do, because the case for global cooperation and a multilateral approach has perhaps never been more urgent.
Today’s world is more prosperous and developed than it has ever been, but that progress is at risk. We share a responsibility to create sustainable economic growth that benefits everyone. We share a responsibility to combat climate change by implementing the Paris Agreement, especially with the 24th Conference of the Parties in December fast approaching. We share a responsibility to promote innovation and the dissemination of knowledge and digital skills in the face of rapid technological advances. And we share a responsibility to enhance security by combatting terrorism. No country can solve these problems alone. So these challenges demand a common approach – at a time when international cooperation is under pressure.
Over the years, the Netherlands has been actively involved in the G20, and we are honoured to be present in Buenos Aires. Since we are one of the world’s most globalised and internationally oriented countries, the G20 is of great interest to us. We are eager to share our experience as an open economy and a relatively equal society, and to share our world-class expertise in areas such as financial inclusion, climate adaptation and innovation in agriculture.
We live in times of disruption and change. Today’s technological progress is extraordinary in its pervasiveness and speed. While some people see robotisation, globalisation and innovation as opportunities, others fear for their jobs and feel a growing discomfort and alienation. For many, it is hard to keep up with the pace of change. To me, this is one of the main risks for the short-term future. Social divisions can turn into social tensions. If too many people are left behind, society will suffer. So now is the time to renew our commitments, with the broader goal of leaving no one behind. President Macri’s theme for the summit, “Building consensus for fair and sustainable development”, will help ensure that we stay focused on this goal.
The Netherlands is a strong proponent of active trade and investment policies aimed at economic growth and prosperity for all. We will stand up for a global economy that is open and fair, sustainable, inclusive and governed by clear rules. Trade is an engine of growth, but fair trade is an engine of development. Protectionist measures are not the solution to the challenges we face. Protectionism involves trying to hold on to what we had, while we should be looking ahead to what we want. G20 members, like all the other countries of the world, need well-functioning multilateral structures to promote and defend the interests of their people.
We believe the G20 should lead by example. Through dialogue and the search for consensus, this forum can build confidence and help guide other international political processes. And it can assume even greater legitimacy if it includes non-state actors and civil society. I therefore applaud Argentina for enriching G20 policymaking by involving groups of young people, women, non-governmental organisations and the academic community.
The bottom line is that we all share a responsibility to defend the achievements of multilateralism, and to continually improve the institutions and mechanisms we have developed over the years. Let us not withdraw to some imaginary island that offers the illusion of security. Let us not avoid change by shutting out the world. History has shown that progress comes through change and movement, not stagnation. The Netherlands stands ready to work with others and make the G20 summit in Buenos Aires a success for the world.