Mike Callaghan is Director of the Lowy Institute's G20 Studies Centre.
On 1 December 2012 Australia joined the leadership team of the G 20, the 'troika' of past (Mexico), present (Russia) and future (Australia) G20 chairs. As Michael Gaskin has rightly pointed out, it is the start of a period when Australia can 'stamp its mark' on the G20, particularly when it takes the chair in 2014.
I started as Program Director of the Lowy Institute's G20 Studies Centre on the same day Australia joined the troika, fortuitous since our aim is to deliver analytical support towards the building of a stronger and more effective G20. The Centre is supported by a grant from the Australian Government.
Should Australia care about the G20? Absolutely. It is more than a case of national pride that we have a seat at the 'big table', the forum of the systemically important economies. The G20 matters, for its success or otherwise will influence the future of the Australian economy and the welfare of all Australians. If the global financial crisis demonstrated anything, it is that we live in an integrated world and we need better economic cooperation, particularly between the advanced and the emerging markets. It was in response to this need that the G20 Leaders process was established in 2008.
And given the vulnerabilities that continue to confront the global economy, we need the G20 to be a success. As the IMF noted in its recent World Economic Outlook, 'the prospects (for the global economy) are for sluggish and bumpy growth', with a significant risk that 'global activity could deteriorate very sharply'. In such an environment, we need a concerted international effort to address the complex vulnerabilities confronting the global economy. This is the challenge confronting the G20.
But we always have to remember that it is not the G20 that will deliver a stronger and more sustainable global economy. It can certainly help, but ultimately responsibility lies with policy makers in each national economy.
How will the G20 Studies Centre contribute to helping Australia 'stamp its mark' on the G20? By doing what the Lowy Institute does best: contributing high quality analysis and ideas, encouraging discussion and debate, and raising awareness. The G20 Studies Centre will produce research and policy papers, host workshops, seminars and conferences, encourage a network of Australian and regional researchers on G20 issues, and regularly produce the G20 Monitor, which will contain an update and analysis of G20 issues.
The G20 Studies Centre is a member of Think 20, a network of think tanks from G20 countries. This is an initiative to help strengthen the G20 by harvesting the contributions of a wide range of think tanks and academics. I'm in Moscow with Lowy Institute Executive Director Dr Michael Fullilove for a Think 20 meeting beginning tomorrow. As a member of the troika, I will co-chair this meeting with my colleagues from Russia and Mexico.
We are keen to deepen the activities of Think 20 and channel the combined efforts of the think tank community into analysing and providing policy input into the key economic issues confronting the global economy. In 2014 the G20 Studies Centre will host Think 20 and this provides another opportunity for Australia to make its mark on the G20.
Photo by Flickr user mutovkin.