G20 performance on development
G20 Summit

G20 performance on development

The G20 can achieve higher compliance on its development commitments using a number of tools, from referencing the Sustainable Development Goals to including a focus on other, related subjects

India’s vision for its G20 presidency is one of unity and consensus, under the Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam theme of ‘the world is one family’. Between the 2022 G20 host, Indonesia, and the 2024 one, Brazil, India is pushing for progress on the Sustainable Development Goals at the midpoint of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.


From 2008 to 2022, the G20 gave an average of 25% of its communiqués to development at each summit. Peaks came in 2010 at Seoul with 58% (9,195 words), in 2022 at Riyadh with 48% (5,034 words) and in 2010 at Toronto with 35% (3,899 words). The 2008 Washington Summit dedicated 18% (651 words) to development. In 2009 London devoted 28% (1,726 words) and Pittsburgh 25% (2,292 words).

Cannes in 2011 again produced 18% (2,545 words) on development. This rose to 32% (4,021 words) at the 2012 Los Cabos Summit and 27% (7,847 words) at the 2013 St Petersburg Summit. At Brisbane in 2014, development fell to 22% (2,007 words), then 16% (2,226 words) at Antalya in 2015. It jumped in 2016 at Hangzhou to 25% (4,091), but plummeted to 17% for the next three years. The 2021 Rome Summit rose to 26% (2,491 words) and leapt to 48% (5,034 words) at the 2022 Bali Summit.


The 3,239 commitments made by G20 leaders include 343 (10%) on development – after macroeconomic policy and before financial regulation. They started with four (4%) commitments at Washington in 2008, increased to 15 (12%) at London in 2009, and decreased to nine (7%) at Pittsburgh in 2009 and eight (13%) at the 2010 Toronto Summit. The 2010 Seoul Summit made 22 (14%), followed by 17 (6%) at Cannes in 2011, 10 (6%) at Los Cabos in 2012 and 43 (15%) at St Petersburg in 2013. Brisbane in 2014 made 18 (8%) development commitments. Then came 33 (21%) at Antalya in 2015 and 18 (8%) in 2016 at Hangzhou. Hamburg in 2017 had an all-time high of 71 (13%), followed by an all-time low of four (3%) at Buenos Aires in 2018. They rose to 24 (17%) at Osaka in 2019, fell again to seven (7%) at the 2020 Riyadh Summit and rose again to 18 (8%) at the 2021 Rome Summit. The Bali Summit made 23 of its 223 commitments on development, matching the overall average of 10%.


Members’ compliance with the 56 development commitments assessed by the G20 Research Group averaged 67%, below the overall average of 71%.

Compliance started strong at 90% for Washington in 2008, plummeted to 58% for London and 63% for Pittsburgh in 2009, then rose to 68% for Toronto and 65% for Seoul in 2010, and 67% for Cannes in 2011. It jumped to 89% for Los Cabos in 2012, plunged to an all-time low of 52% for St Petersburg in 2013, rose to 64% each for Brisbane in 2014 and Antalya in 2015, soared to 93% for Hangzhou in 2016, and declined to 79% for Hamburg in 2017 and 73% for Buenos Aires in 2018. Osaka’s 2019 summit returned to 90%. The 2020 Riyadh Summit had 83% compliance. The all-time high came for the 2021 Rome Summit with 95% compliance. However, by April 2023, compliance with the 2022 Bali commitments was only 48%.

Compliance was led by the United Kingdom at 87%, Germany at 86% and the European Union at 84%. Indonesia sat at 55% while Brazil had 29%. India was slightly above average on development with 68%.

Causes and corrections

Summits with fewer development conclusions but more commitments correlate with higher compliance. The eight summits with the highest compliance (85%) averaged 23% of words and 12 commitments on development per summit. The eight summits with the lowest compliance (62%) averaged 26% of words and 29 commitments per summit on development.

Commitments that referenced the SDGs or the 2030 Agenda averaged 83% compliance, versus 66% for those that did not. Commitments referencing Africa averaged only 49% compliance, versus 70% for those that did not.

Commitments that included issues other than development had 71% compliance, compared to 64% for those focused only on development. Most of the synergistic commitments linked to macroeconomics or financial regulation averaged 68%.

To improve compliance, the G20 leaders at New Delhi can focus commitments on development and take a ‘more the merrier’ approach. Commitments should link with the SDGs or the 2030 Agenda, and with other subjects. Building on the G20 Development Working Group and development ministers’ meetings, India is on the right path for the 2023 New Delhi Summit.