What to know about this year’s G20 summit

The Group of Twenty, aka the G20, is a coalition of leaders of the world's largest economies.

What to know about this year’s G20 summit
A man stands on an escalator ahead of the G20 summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, November 13, 2022. REUTERS/Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana

The Group of Twenty, aka the G20, is a coalition of leaders of the world's largest economies. This bloc meets once a year to discuss important economic developments and issues. The G20 is a relatively new body, only formed in 1999. Its annual summit is even newer, with its first meeting held in 2008. In fact, one of its major accomplishments was its response to the 2008 financial crisis.

In recent years, though, the G20 has kind of declined in effectiveness. The bloc has been criticized for not responding very strongly to the pandemic. More generally, the group has continued to become divided as high and low-income countries have separate interests and views on major issues.

"If the group cannot come together and function at this time of real economic hardship for the advanced economies, emerging markets, low-income countries, then it calls fundamentally into question the effectiveness of the group. So, that's the challenge for the G20 to prove that it's still fit for purpose coming out of these meetings," said Josh Lipsky, senior director of the Atlantic Council's GeoEconomics Center.

So, as this year's G20 Summit gets going in Bali, Indonesia, what is the game plan?

Kicking off Tuesday, the summit is themed "recover together, recover stronger." Its official priorities this year are health, sustainable energy and digital transformation. Unfortunately, the summit may be dominated by the ongoing war in Ukraine and the economic chaos that's followed. Some reports have called the it "possibly the most stressful G20 ever." Putin isn't going to attend, but US President Biden is there and has already held productive talks with Chinese President Xi about US-China relations.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo is clearly trying to keep things together over the war. Widodo (also called Jokowi) is the first Asian leader to visit both Russia and Ukraine since the war began. "The G20 is not meant to be a political forum," he said. "It's meant to be about economics and development." But, he still invited President Zelenskiy to join the summit, even though Ukraine is not a member of G20. He's expected to join online.