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Lumsa University’s discussion on the priorities of the Italian G20 Presidency

April 23rd, 2021

Lumsa University’s discussion on the priorities of the Italian G20 Presidency

On April 12th, 2021, a conference was held with the students of the Faculty of Political and International Sciences of the LUMSA University in Rome, with the participation of the Embassy Counsellor Fausto Panebianco, Coordinator of the G7 and G20 Sherpa Office at the Presidency of the Council of Ministers.

The meeting aimed at reflecting on the priorities of the Italian Presidency of the G20, and is part of the cycle of seminars “Politics and Policy LUMSA Colloquia”, an initiative of the Roman University supporting the launch of the new master’s degree course in “Policies, Administration and Innovation”, which aims to provide training of excellence for responsibility tasks within institutions, associations and organizations, in order to tackle the current socio-political and intergenerational challenges.

The “fil rouge” of these meetings is to reflect on current socio-political transformations, analyzing the different paths of political choices and decision-making processes related to current economic and social dynamics.

In this perspective, the debate on the priorities of the Italian G20 Presidency, with the presence of the Counsellor Panebianco, has contributed to this ambitious attempt.

The Italian Presidency of G20 has set great ambitions at the basis of its action programme, starting from the three pillars it takes on: People, Planet and Prosperity, while the theme of Health/Healthcare remains, for obvious reasons, central and transversal to the various areas of work.

“No model of economic growth can disregard the reference to the value of the person, the protection of the planet and the fight against climate change”: this is how Mr. Panebianco introduced the elements that make up the three pillars and the main issues that the representatives of the G20 countries will be dealing with.

In particular, People reflects the fight against poverty and inequalities, not only within our societies (considering the fact that women, young people and precarious workers are among the hardest hit by the current crisis), but also in relation to the most vulnerable countries (there will be a particular focus on Africa and on the use of the International Monetary Fund’s “special drawing rights”). Planet’s main aim is to provide the necessary elements for the development of “open minded” societies, able to recognize the climate-environmental challenge as an existential challenge. Panebianco, referring to the increasing use of renewable energies, mentioned biodiversity: what is of utmost importance is to think about how to strengthen biodiversity, not only on how to protect it.

The fight against inequality direct links People and Prosperity, upstream of digitalization and of the precariousness that it has also produced in our societies (universal access to internet is, for this reason, one of the issues that our presidency wants to pursue).

Equality concerns people but also businesses: small and medium-sized enterprises often have problems accessing global value chains and the financial mechanisms that facilitate market access.

The first intervention raised in the debate was linked to the issue of private companies, and addressed the issue of international taxation. The second was aimed at discussing how complex reaching compromise solutions could be in international discussions.

In replying to these queries, Panebianco was diplomatic and optimistic, confident on both the Italian Presidency’s choice to pursue its goals and keep the topics of discussion high on the G20 agenda, and the consolidated experience matured by Italy’s national Authorities in facing barriers that may appear insurmountable and reaching agreements favorable to the parties.

The participation of social actors in the process behind the G20 decision-making was also discussed during the meeting. This year’s Italian Presidency is even more interesting when seen in the European context. Social dialogue is, indeed, a cultural pillar in Europe, among others, where political institutions consistently engage with in debates with social actors. In light of these reflections, the question arose as to whether it would be conceivable to involve the social players more deeply within the G20 decision-making processes or whether social dialogue would be relegated to a marginal area of debate. Mr. Panebianco’s encouraging response was that the ability of the Presidency and of governments to engage with social partners depends on how much effort is put into building a concrete dialogue on a day-to-day basis.

“With this initiative, as a university, we stand ready to collaborate with the “Think 20” engagement group, which will have to continue beyond the experience of the Italian Presidency. Our aim is to build, in specific university courses, spaces dedicated to deepening the implications of Civil Society’s Organizations and their involvement into “global governance”, through consultation or direct participation in the scenarios of International Institutions”- concluded Prof. Giuseppe Iuliano, moderator of the conference, in agreement with the Coordinator of G20 Sherpa Office, stressing the important role that Research Centers must play in the future in defining the strategies and decisions of the G20 Summits”.