Global Governance in Transition

How can the G20 help overcome regional fragmentation?

12 May 2016
Event location
DGAP, Berlin, Germany
Invitation type
Invitation only


The Group of Twenty (G20) has become a central forum for international cooperation. This year, China holds the G20 presidency, and Germany is set to take the helm 2017. Both countries aim to strengthen the G20's role in the global governance structure, but both countries must also confront the problem of increasing regional fragmentation. Experts from think tanks in Turkey (which held the G20 presidency in 2015), China, and Germany came together to discuss steps that need to be taken.


Bozkurt Aran
Director of the Center for Multilateral Trade Studies from the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV)

Prof. Dr. CHEN Dongxiao
President of the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies

Prof. Dr. Dirk Messner
Director of the German Development Institute 

Chair: Dr. Sylke Tempel

As the world becomes increasingly fragmented, how can the informal Group of 20 (G20) help encourage global coordination and cooperation? What issues should come under its purview? Bozkurt Aran emphasized that the G20 had a legitimacy problem and that the G20 must therefore put inclusiveness at the center of its agenda. Dirk Messner stressed that the 2030 agenda – Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris climate agreement – were issues that the G20 process needed to pick up as well, and that it is important to bring continuity to the G20 and to make the process as transparent as possible.

Professor Messner stressed that the framework of the G20 could help to bring a dynamic of trust into a joint way of thinking. There were several mechanisms for how the G20 could create trust, chief among them identifying joint problems and looking at joint solutions. The G20, moreover, brings a global perspective to issues, producing a shift of perspective from the national to the global level. 

Chen Dongxiao explained China's goals for the G20, namely its desire to promote the G20 as the primary forum for global governance. China wants to be first and foremost a bridge-builder between members and non-members and address existing differences between them. Second, China wants to be a facilitator to help push G20 member states to collective action in implementation. Third, China wants to be a catalyst for structural reforms. 

What are the G20's real options for solving global problems? Dirk Messner stressed that the G20 has been working on coordination and collective action for a some time already but that the G20 is still not accepting legally-binding agreements and there is still no shared sovereignty. The G20 could create a joint knowledge system, however, and cultivate common norms. Doing so, Messner said, could help speed up the learning curve. 

In the subsequent discussion, the question was raised of whether the G20 could discuss climate change and sustainable development goals. Participants emphasized that the UN must continue to play a central role, as the G20 is an informal group and is not mandated to address these issues in a concrete way. The G20 cannot therefore be the key platform for this area. However, the G20 economies could be mobilized to take collective action and lead by example. As such, the G20 could work to facilitate implementation. 

Other issues that were discussed included: the G20's urgent need to coordinate the end of quantitative easing (QE) as a means of securing global financial stability; the G20's continued legitimacy problem; and the necessity for the G20 to promote inclusive growth in order to fight populism, which is on the rise in many countries.


Program Event