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The G20: what did it achieve?

by Donald Geddes — last modified Nov 26, 2014 02:26 PM
The G20 or group of twenty countries with the richest economies meets annually to discuss mainly economic issues which transcend national boundaries. Its meetings in Brisbane were hailed as a great success — but what exactly did it achieve?

Barack Obama Tony Abbott and Shinzo AbeThe G20 economies account for around 85% of the gross world product (GWP), 80% of world trade (or if excluding EU intra-trade: 75%), and two-thirds of the world population. So the gathering of G20 leaders is a powerful body.

Because the G20 attracts world-wide media attention, it always presents an irresistible stage for protestors who crave attention. The protestors in Brisbane represented a variety of causes including anti-Capitalism, poverty, environment, climate change, gay-rights, indigenous issues and political causes.

Did you know the Mouldy Lovers Band pulled out of the Cultural presentation because they felt this was an attempt to distract people from thinking critically about G20 and its agenda?

We may smile at this bit of news but it raises the question “Should we think critically about the G20?” Certainly many ask the question, “Was the huge cost of over $400 million for staging this event and the necessary security really worthwhile?” What benefit will come from this talk-fest? Is it right that only 19 nations plus the EU participate leaving 173 nations out in the cold? Norway is one of these nations who have been particularly critical of their omission.

In the past the G20 was not able to avert the Global Financial Crisis or stop the trend of an increasing gap between rich and poor.

Does the G20 represent increasing globalisation where large international corporations can override national governments simply because of their economic size?

This year’s meeting agreed to establishing an aim to boost the Global economy by 2% by improving infrastructure, reducing trade barriers, promoting competition and reducing unemployment. Issues such as modernising taxation, eliminating corruption and protecting the global economy against future crisis were also included.

All this sounds good except that the countries in greatest need are not included. Many feel that G20 is a rich and powerful club looking after their own interests to the exclusion of others.

If this is true, Christians should be concerned. The Bible is full of exhortations to look after the poor and needy. Psalm 82:3: Defend the weak and the fatherless; uphold the cause of the poor and the oppressed. God’s concern is for the poor:“Because the poor are plundered and the needy groan, I will now arise,” says the Lord. “I will protect them from those who malign them. – Psalm 12:5. The reason we should not neglect the poor is made clear in Proverbs 14:31: Whoever oppresses the poor shows contempt for their Maker, but whoever is kind to the needy honours God.

We have to ask the question, “Could the $400 million spent on staging the G20 have been put to better use? How much poverty and homelessness would that sum alleviate? Have the protestors like the Aboriginal delegation got a legitimate point?

Claiming that the G20 will bring a benefit of $100m to the Queensland economy is not a good enough reason to justify the huge expense and disruption to Brisbane.

So, let us watch with keen interest to see what long term benefits come out of this G20 and if there is a real concern for the have-nots of this world.