Photo by IISD/ENB | Kiara Worth
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The UN General Assembly (UNGA) held an informal briefing on preparations for the Summit of the Group of 20 (G20) under the German presidency.

The G20's agenda in 2017 focuses on building resilience, improving sustainability and assuming responsibility.

Germany said the G20 will hold a conference on Africa to propose the ‘G20 African Partnership Initiative,’ which will aim to spur private investment in infrastructure and employment.

6 February 2017: In a briefing to UN Member States, Permanent Representative of Germany Harald Braun outlined the key priorities of its presidency for the Group of 20 (G20) in 2017, including implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, climate and energy policies, and an intensified partnership with Africa. During the informal briefing on preparations for the 2017 Summit, many welcomed the “depth and breadth” of the German presidency’s agenda.

UN General Assembly (UNGA) President Peter Thomson underscored the role of such events in building trust and breaking down institutional silos. Thomson also highlighted the G20 Action Plan on the 2030 Agenda and the Group’s further alignment with efforts to eradicate poverty, leave no one behind and build an inclusive, sustainable future for all.

The German G20 presidency’s agenda is based on three pillars: building resilience, improving sustainability and assuming responsibility.

G20 Sherpa and Chief Economic Advisor to the German Chancellor Lars-Hendrik Röller observed that the G20 has evolved from primarily focusing on finance and economics to also addressing issues like climate, development, women, health and refugees and migration. He said the German presidency’s agenda is based on three pillars: building resilience, improving sustainability and assuming responsibility. The agenda also emphasizes collective action to address these challenges through inclusive and sustainable growth at all levels. Röller also presented the presidency’s aims on: trade, including an examination of who does and does not benefit from trade; financial market regulation, including green financing; the 2030 Agenda; Africa; climate change and energy; digitalization; employment, jobs and supply chains, including the launch of an e-skills for girls initiative; health, with a focus on managing pandemics and tackling anti-microbial resistance (AMR); displacement; anti-corruption; and terrorism. Röller said Germany released a paper in December 2016 that outlines and elaborates on these priorities.

On financing and financial markets, Röller said the German presidency is considering proposing a discussion of insurance schemes to leverage private financing. On Africa, he said the G20 will hold a conference on Africa to propose the ‘G20 African Partnership Initiative’ to spur private investment in infrastructure and employment. The conference will take place in Berlin, Germany, from 12-13 June 2017.

On climate change and energy, Röller said the presidency wants to link climate and energy policy more closely, and will put forward a G20 energy action plan to address de-carbonization. He also said the German presidency plans to raise the issue of carbon pricing.

On the 2030 Agenda, Röller stressed that the German presidency plans to support implementation and further develop the G20 Action Plan, including with inputs to the UN High-level Political Forum on Sustainable Development (HLPF). He said the G20 agricultural ministers have discussed water management, and the German presidency may work to further address the issue of water in the 2030 Agenda.

On structure, Röller said the presidency has created seven streams of civil society groups and asked them to discuss and develop policy proposals for presentation at a final conference. The groups are: Business 20; Labor 20; Civil society and NGO 20; Youth 20; Think 20, composed of think tanks; Science 20, composed of national academies; and Women 20. He also informed that six ministerial groups are preparing the main summit.

Lenni Montiel, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (DESA) and UN Sherpa to the G20, expressed the UN’s full support for the G20 agenda, and welcomed the efforts of Germany, and past presidencies of Turkey and China, to align the G20 work program with the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement on climate change, and to engage with other groups like the Group of 77 and China (G-77/China).

In an interactive session, many (including Ecuador for the G-77/China, Singapore, Kenya, and Nigeria) supported the German presidency’s focus and welcomed its outreach to and inclusion of the G-77 and other non-members of the G20. Ecuador for the G-77/China welcomed the G20’s emphasis on implementing the 2030 Agenda.

Several delegates expressed concern about the future of international support for multilateralism, with Singapore calling on the G20 to strongly support the work of the UN and to fight protectionism. In this context, Colombia expressed concern on financing for development (FfD). Kenya hoped that current global discord on issues of trade, politics, democracy and social impact will not affect implementation of the 2030 Agenda.

Delegates also drew attention to challenges related to illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing and marine litter, illicit financial flows and tax evasion, and the importance of investment in infrastructure.

The G20 is comprised of 19 countries plus the EU. The countries are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Turkey, the UK and the US. [Briefing Webcast] [UNGA President’s Statement] [UNGA President’s Letter] [G20 Website] [Germany Paper: Priorities of the 2017 G20 Summit]


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