The Think 20 forms the bedrock of much G20 policy, where ideas become proposals that are inclusive, diverse and closer to people
The past two years have been difficult for the global community: COVID-19 hitting hard on health systems, the world economy in need for a quick reignition, widening poverty and inequalities worldwide, worsening climate change.
This is the context in which both the Italian G20 and the Think 20 – which the Italian Institute for International Political Studies has the honour to chair – took place. The T20’s year-long journey has been exciting and rewarding, although playing the role of the ‘ideas bank’ of the G20 is anything but easy.
Throughout the year, we tried hard to keep faith in our mission: building a digital, inclusive and policy-oriented T20.
On being digital: we have done our best to turn a ‘necessary choice’ into the opportunity to go beyond the hundreds of think tanks and experts traditionally involved, and reach out to thousands of them worldwide.
When it comes to inclusiveness: we have striven to achieve gender and geographical balance and promoted events in close cooperation with a global community of more than 30 think tanks (half of them from the Global South). The T20 also heavily relied on 89 co-chairs of the 11 task forces (50% come from developing countries and 42% of them are women).
Last but not least: a policy-oriented T20. Our 125 policy briefs – summarised into a final communiqué – include dozens of concrete and actionable policy recommendations for the G20 leaders. Moreover, we released nine statements on the occasion of the G20 ministerial meetings.
Our key recommendations revolve around the three pillars of Italy’s G20 agenda: people, planet and prosperity:
On people: we acknowledged global health as the most urgent priority, and proposed that the G20 establish a global health equity observatory to collect cross-country data to address inequalities in the provision of healthcare. But caring about people also means dealing with poverty and unemployment and we proposed the introduction of a global citizens’ income. We also focused on enhancing job opportunities for disadvantaged groups, particularly women entrepreneurs and youth, and drew attention to the importance of regulating remote working. Finally, improving access to education is crucial to recover the ground lost during the pandemic, through better monitoring and evaluation of school programmes, and by filling the digital gap.
On planet: the G20 should make a renewed commitment to deploying budgetary instruments to encourage decarbonisation and to phase out fossil-fuel subsidies. Emerging countries should be provided with the appropriate funds to face the transition: this is why a common international taxonomy to facilitate green investments should be set. We also proposed establishing a commission to offer capacity building for workers adversely affected by the climate transformation and energy transition. And we placed a spotlight on agriculture to make our food systems more resilient and to empower small farmers.
And finally, on prosperity: economic recovery should be promoted by keeping monetary and fiscal policies expansionary for an extended period and by creating a global liquidity insurance mechanism to support developing economies. The G20 should also be wary of the risk of future financial crises: innovative ways to progressively deleverage debt stocks (which peaked at 100% of world gross domestic product) are needed by promoting transparency in global capital flows and fighting international corruption. Besides, coordination of tax policies is key to defuse unfair competition: the T20 welcomed the G20 commitment to establish a global minimum tax on multinational corporations. Levelling the playing field also applies to international trade: the World Trade Organization should be reformed and e-commerce should be better regulated. Also, the digital transformation needs to be tackled so that everyone benefits from its opportunities: this is why the G20 should invest more in women’s digital training and explore innovative financing mechanisms for digital inclusion.
Proposals into initiatives
We truly hope that the G20 leaders and world citizens can benefit from these recommendations. As the ideas bank of the G20, our value added is two-fold. On the one hand, we engage a global community of think tanks that goes well beyond the ‘narrow’ geographical boundaries of the G20 members, thus resulting in policy proposals that are inclusive, diverse and – as much as possible – closer to people. On the other hand, as an official engagement group we are allowed to access the G20 process. But let’s be realistic: it is difficult for our recommendations for a rekindled multilateral system to be heard in full by policymakers in the context of growing international tensions.
glass half empty or full
Nevertheless, we are glad to see that many of our key proposals from the current and previous T20s have turned into G20 initiatives: the agreement on a global minimum tax, the reaffirmation of the $100 billion annual pledge to support poorer countries against climate change, and the issuance of the $650 billion in special drawing rights by the International Monetary Fund. To be sure, other big challenges lie ahead of us: so we do not really know if and to what extent for the G20 the glass is half empty or full. What we do know is that at least the T20 has tried hard to paint a clearer picture of what it takes to fill it.