On December 1, 2023, Brazil assumed the presidency of the G-20, a year in a very challenging international political and economic environment. Just as the world was recovering from the pandemic, Russia's invasion of Ukraine in February 2022 exacerbated the global food security crisis and led to calls from countries in the Global South to reform multilateral institutions. The escalating Israel-Hamas conflict in the Middle East will further exacerbate these trends. In this context, the Brazilian government has a unique opportunity to use its role within the G20 to promote some of its interests and other common demands from the Global South. Such prospects are closely linked to US interests, especially considering that the US will assume the G20 presidency in 2026.
The influence of the Global South in the G-20 is increasing
The G-20 was established as an informal group at the G-7 Finance Ministers meeting in September 1999. Although closely linked to the Asian financial crisis of the late 1990s, the move also reflected the growing impotence of the G-7/8 system. In order to solve the specific problems of global financial governance, the so-called emerging economies highlighted the need to engage in such processes. After its creation, the G-20 should focus only on financial issues; The finance ministers met annually for nearly 10 years. However, in 2008, in response to the new US economic crisis, the G-20 existed And strongly restructured These include annual summits of heads of state in addition to the annual meeting of finance ministers.
As the international economy stabilizes, the G-20 is subject to significant innovation that underscores the growing influence of the Global South on the international stage.
The G-20 has broadened its agenda. It goes beyond traditional topics such as financial stabilization, economic recovery and reform of the international financial framework to cover issues of significant relevance to states of the Global South. Over the past decade, the agenda has expanded to include food security, climate change and green growth, infrastructure investment, corruption, gender equality, global health, new technologies and security-related issues.
Using this opportunity, BRICS (a group of emerging economies originally formed by Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) began to push their own agenda. It began engaging the G-20, reiterating its members' various policy positions and demands for changes in the global governance structure, particularly focusing on reforming the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Also, in 2014, the Foreign Ministers of the BRICS countries issued a joint statement Possible exclusion of Russia From the 2014 G-20 Brisbane Summit, following Russia's annexation of Crimea. Other emerging economies such as Mexico also supported the report. when 2022 G-20 Summit in IndonesiaAlthough Russian President Vladimir Putin did not attend the event, Russia received support from other BRICS members and was spared. Severe condemnation Invasion of Ukraine in Final Summit Declaration.
Similarly, the succession of G-20 leaders run by emerging middle powers also contributed to the consolidation of the „Global South agenda” in the G-20. Following Indonesia's presidency in 2022, three founding members of BRICS and IBSA (India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue Forum) make up the current G-20 triad: India (2023), Brazil (2024) and South Africa (2025).
Brazil's G-20 Agenda in 2024
In September 2023, Brazil declared Its theme for the 2024 G-20 – “Building a just world and a sustainable planet” – and its Three priorities: combating inequality, promoting social inclusion and fighting hunger; combating climate change, promoting energy transition and sustainable development; and reforming global governance institutions.
The G-20 negotiating body Contains Sherpa and financial tracks. The Sherpa Track is a preparatory process leading up to the annual G-20 summit. It involves a series of meetings and talks between the Sherpas, the foreign ministers of the G-20 countries. In the fiscal path created by finance ministers, Brazil's priorities include financing the fight against climate change, providing debt relief to poor countries (today mostly including China as a creditor), promoting a fairer international tax system (seeking to go beyond that. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development and the G-20 agreed in previous summits discussed), and reforming international financial institutions and strengthening the role of multilateral development banks.
Brazilian policymakers often emphasize that the G-20 is not an event, but part of a process. This is because it wants to cement its place as a key player in addressing environmental issues in a series of international events, such as the Conference of the Parties (COP) 30 to be held in Brazil in 2025, and the BRICS summit. year. In doing so, Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva wants to assert his country's leadership in the Global South, amid competition with India to host the G-20 in 2023.
Actually, both countries Competing It uses multilateral policy spaces, including the G-20, for a leading role in representing the aspirations and demands of the Global South. Last year, when Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi chaired the G-20, Modi emerged as a key leader in the absence of Chinese President Xi Jinping. Entry into the African Union In the group. In parallel, Lula da Silva participated in the last three events related to the Global South: the BRICS Summit in South Africa, the G-20 Summit in India and the G-77 Summit in Cuba.
In contrast to India's strategy, the Brazilian government has focused on creating a „participatory G-20,” a hallmark of the Brazilian presidency under Lula da Silva, who has made democracy and social rights his priorities. The central government's aim is to promote all G-20 countries Engagement groups Be inclusive and open to international community participation.
T-20An engagement group of think tanks and research centers from G-20 member states opened and developed an unprecedented consultation process with national and international academic and civil society organizations. Advisory Council With gender balanced representation and regular meetings.
The government also called for „Social G-20It aims to bring together various civil society organizations with all 13 engagement groups ahead of the November 2024 Summit of Heads of State in Rio de Janeiro. The success of this initiative is unprecedented in the history of the G-20. Mobilization of Brazilian civil society, which should assume the role of hosts and its counterparts abroad to make the process transparent and democratic.
Although the G-20 is a broader organization than the G-7, it is a smaller club that, despite promoting multilateralism, has achieved few concrete achievements in areas such as climate change mitigation, social policies, and gender and health issues. While summits in Toronto (2009), Hamburg (2017) and Buenos Aires (2018) have been followed by protests outside the venue where heads of government meet, discussions are ongoing in Brazil about holding a “people's summit”. Action by social movements and civil society organizations. It differs from the „community G-20” because it maintains autonomy from governments and, therefore, can include debates and actors not represented in official spaces, while maintaining dialogue with official engagement groups and government leaders. For new agendas.
An opportunity for the US to promote diplomatic cooperation
Next The G-20 Troika Includes the US presidency in 2026, Brazil (2024) and South Africa (2025). Although the outcome of the 2024 US presidential election is uncertain, the troika is an opportunity for the Biden administration to seize the G-20's moment in Brazil and engage with Brazil, South Africa and other countries in the Global South.
The Biden administration seems to understand this and has developed a new approach to the Global South, with China and Russia increasingly challenging US interests in the geopolitical arena. Some of the new forms of this engagement include new ones India-Middle East-Europe Economic Corridor and intention to scale the G-7 Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment. Notably, India is emerging as a major economy Security partner America in Asia. President Joe Biden also supported the African Union's bid for permanent membership in the G-20.
Nevertheless, to succeed, the US approach must include support for reform of global governance institutions. Such support should be linked to the demands of the countries of the Global South and should focus on the reform of the United Nations Security Council and international financial institutions, especially the IMF and the World Bank. America should also support Global public investment agenda to meet the South's development needs and deliver on its climate finance commitments.
The legitimacy of the liberal international order has been severely challenged in recent years. More than ever, the United States faces an important dilemma about its stance toward this order—whether to support reform or preserve the status quo. In this context, the G-20 appears to be a forum for establishing communication and cooperation especially with the countries of the Global South, as well as partnering with them to strengthen their drive for reform of global governance.
For its part, Brazil, as an important developing country, looks forward to promoting the G-20 as part of a larger process to advance the interests of the countries of the Global South. Its presidency could be a decisive step in Brazil's return to the international stage as a relevant player after tragic years under the Temer and Bolsonaro governments (2016-2022). Therefore, the next two years will be crucial for both Brazil and the United States. In Brazil's conclusion, it will be about how the country will handle the G-20 presidency, COP 30 and the BRICS summit. For the US, its actions will show what role it wants to play in the future of the international order and how successful it has been in its efforts to engage with the Global South. Therefore, the 2024 G-20 summit will be a pivotal moment for both countries' foreign policy strategies.
Ana García is Associate Professor at the Federal Rural University of Rio de Janeiro.o; Leonardo Ramos is Associate Professor at the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, Brazil.
Thanks to Ad Darnell for great insights and suggestions on earlier versions of this article.
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