Expectations for the 2024 G20 Summit: Will Geopolitics Interfere with Progress?

March 5, 2024

Three months into the year and the international stage is sizzling. Following this year’s World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting in Davos, the Munich Security Conference and the first G7 meeting, the G20 kicked-off its first Ministerial amid geopolitical tension and an urgent agenda.

As the premier forum for international economic cooperation, the Group of 20 (G20) plays a vital role in shaping policies that impact economies worldwide. The forum stands as a critical assembly of the world’s major economies, representing approximately 80 percent of the global GDP and two-thirds of the global population, and addressing global economic issues, including financial stability, climate change and sustainable development.

Against a backdrop of heightened geopolitical tensions, particularly surrounding G20 member Russia’s actions in Ukraine, the 2024 G20 Summit faces a convoluted environment. The strained relations between major powers add an additional layer of complexity to discussions and outcomes. These geopolitical tensions are likely to influence dialogue and decision-making during the summit, highlighting the need for diplomatic efforts and constructive engagement among member countries.

The 2024 G20 Summit is set to take place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, marking a historic moment for the country. Brazil’s first-ever presidency aims to address these pressing challenges and foster cooperation among its members. With a focus on amplifying the voice of the Global South in international decision-making, Brazil is championing reforms in global governance and advocating for policies that prioritize sustainable development and poverty reduction.

As such, the first G20 in Rio de Janeiro saw discussions on international tensions and multilateral reforms. Western ministers condemned the war in Ukraine, calling for accountability from Russia, and addressed the Israel-Hamas conflict, largely calling for a cease-fire. Consensus was reached on the need for reforms in key global institutions including the United Nations and World Bank, with a focus on enhancing financing for impoverished nations and increasing representation for developing countries. At the helm of the G20, Brazilian President Lula, reinforcing his personal legacy of cash transfer programs during his first two mandates, proposed a Task Force for a Global Alliance Against Hunger and Poverty, an initiative open to that aims to mobilize resources, expertise, and political will to reduce hunger and poverty globally.

International tensions were also prevalent during the Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors Meeting in São Paulo. Roadblocks prevented consensus on a joint statement, underscoring the divergences over geopolitical issues that ultimately overshadowed economic discussions. For Brazil, this meant a failed mediation attempt on the impasse; the meeting ended without a final communiqué, a rare occurrence in the G20’s history but a sign of the times. While this could represent a setback for Brazil’s presidency—and possibly cast a shadow over its ability to balance interests and values—it could also indicate an opportunity for the country to demonstrate its vision in addressing global issues and fostering cooperation among the G20 members.

What’s Next?

While not legally binding, G20 commitments act as crucial policy signals and guideposts for international cooperation. They assist business leaders in navigating intricate challenges and capitalizing on growth opportunities in line with global trends. With the 2024 G20 meetings under way, here are three things that will continue to inform the process in the lead up to this year’s summit:

  1. Geopolitical Uncertainties: The work of the G20 takes place in a complex geopolitical environment, with tensions between major powers, particularly surrounding Russia’s actions in Ukraine. Leaders should closely monitor how these tensions influence discussions and outcomes during the summit, as they can have implications for international relations, trade and global economic stability.
  2. Climate Change and Sustainable Development: The G20 agenda for 2024 includes crucial topics related to climate change and sustainable development. With Brazil next year hosting the climate COP30 summit in the heart of the Amazonia, one should expect a doubleheader on sustainability issues. As businesses face increasing pressure to address environmental sustainability, they should pay attention to the outcomes and commitments made during the summit, as they may shape global policies and regulations related to sustainability initiatives.
  3. Global Governance Reforms: With Brazil’s presidency prioritizing global governance reforms, leaders should stay informed about discussions on enhancing representation for developing countries in key global institutions and addressing issues related to financial stability and economic cooperation. These reforms may have implications for businesses operating in an increasingly interconnected and interdependent global economy. Brazil has also brought back the issue of transparency and anti-corruption to the G20 agenda.

For more information about how to engage with the Brazilian G20 Presidency and its road to the climate COP30, reach out to APCO’s Latin America team: LatAm@apcoworldwide.com.

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