Fun Fact Friday: The Fun is Relative


Today in Argentina the G20 is taking place!

The Group of Twenty, more commonly referred to as the G20, is a now annual gathering of 20 of the world’s major industrialized and emerging economies. The annual summit provides the world’s most important leaders the opportunity to discuss co-operation and the major problems facing world in an informal setting. The G20 was created in response to criticism that the Group of Seven (G7) was outdated and overly restrictive. Aside from Japan, no county from outside of North America and Europe is a member of the G7. As such, the G20 seeks to recognize the role of emerging economies in the leadership and further direction of global affairs.

The members of the G20 are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Turkey, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The European Union as a regional governmental body is the 20th member. Together these countries account for around three quarters of global gross domestic product (GDP). Data from the International Monetary Fund suggests that expansion of the G7 to the G20 will be evermore justifiable over time as the share of global GDP commanded by the non-G7 G20 countries continues to grow.

At present, The United States is the largest economy in the G20 in terms of GDP with 18.57 trillion U.S. dollars in 2016. The fact that South Africa, the smallest G20 economy, posted a GDP figure of 294 billion U.S. dollars in 2016 suggests that a seat at the informal table does not amount to equal persuasiveness in the discourse. Given the vast differences in the populations of G20 countries, it is not surprising that the largest economies don’t necessarily have the highest per capita GDP rates. While the United States remains at the top of the list, Australia and Canada round out the top three.

The expansion of the summit to the G20 saw diversity in developmental experiences in addition to cultural and geographic factors. While Canada received a score of 82 out of 100 in the most recent addition of the Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, Mexico and Russia scored 30 and 29 respectively. The demographics of origin are also highly varied among the G20 economies. Many of the highly industrialized economies including Australia, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Canada and the United States have a high international migrant stock as a proportion of total population. In the context of a global political discourse that is increasingly skeptical of globalization, questions about international openness may be directed from within the halls of power towards the likes of China.

Climate change is widely recognized as one of the world’s largest collective problems. Despite dismissive statements about the validity of global warming by recently elected President of the United States Donald Trump, climate issues looked set to play a prominent role at G20 Germany 2017. The United States is the largest CO2 emitter in the group by a significant margin, making the potential isolation of Trump from Merkel, Modi, Macron and Co. on climate issues a point of poignant discussion.

The presence of many of the actors that pull the strings of the global economy, as well as the international media that follows such a meeting, represents an ideal opportunity for those unhappy with the global state of affairs to protest. Unfortunately, it also brings with it a high security concern from potential terrorist activity. In response to these two factors, security at such events is generally very high. For the 2017 edition of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, an additional 15,000 police officers were allocated to the city from other German states. With 100,000 protestors expected to demonstrate against the G20 and its participants, 11 helicopters, 62 police horses and 153 police dogs were also deployed in the area.

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