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Think20: Ideas from Think Tanks for the G20 Leaders

First meeting of the engagement group which brings together the most relevant think tanks worldwide. Goal: offer ideas on how to rethink multilateralism in light of the G20 priorities.

February 12th, 2021

Think20: Ideas from Think Tanks for the G20 Leaders

The opening conference of Think20 (T20) – the engagement group of the Group of 20 (G20) which brings together experts of the most relevant think tanks worldwide to provide recommendations and proposals to Italy’s G20 Presidency – was held on 8 and 9 February 2021.

The conference – promoted by the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI), as National Coordinator and Chair, and the International Affairs Institute (IAI) as co- Chair of the T20 Italy – aimed primarily to offer ideas on how to rethink multilateralism in light of the priorities defined by the Italian Presidency of the G20: People, Planet, Prosperity.

During the first day, speakers focused on the role of the G20 role in dealing with the growing inequalities caused by the pandemic. How to protect the most vulnerable population groups must be a key point of discussion for the G20, as Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Marina Sereni remarked.

In the ‘People’ session, Tito Boeri, professor of Economics at Bocconi University and former President of the Italian National Institute for Social Security, underlined the importance of investing in education. This sector has been severely affected by the pandemic, restricting the right to study for over 500 million youngsters, due to school closures or difficulties in accessing distance learning. Emma Bonino, Italian Senator and Former Minister of Foreign Affairs, addressed the issue of migration, underlining the importance of governing this structural phenomenon through a multilateral approach.

In the ‘Planet’ session, the speakers mainly focused on energy and climate issues, but also addressed the impacts of soil erosion and the sustainability of the current food system. Alicia Bárcena, Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC), indicated seven priority areas that are key to fostering an inclusive and sustainable economy: the transition to renewable energy sources, the digital revolution, electric mobility, bioeconomy, circular economy, sustainable tourism, global health. Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Energy Agency (IEA), expressed confidence in the ongoing process and in the many countries investing in order to reduce emissions. However, as noted by Jeffrey Sachs, Director of the Center for Sustainable Development at Columbia University, sustainable land use and food systems conversion will also be essential to achieve climate-related goals, provided that all countries cooperate.

In the ‘Prosperity’ session, the watchword was ‘cooperation’ – as underlined by European Commissioner for the Economy Paolo Gentiloni. The post-pandemic scenario can also create opportunities for businesses, stressed Emma Marcegaglia, Chair of Business20, and 2021 could be the year of rebirth, but only if States cooperate and if the private sector makes the best use of the tools that innovation can offer, promoting environmental sustainability, and particularly supporting micro, small and medium enterprises.

During the second day of the conference, over 350 analysts took part in the kick-off meeting of the 11 Task Forces that will formulate policy proposals in the coming months on topics such as: Global health and Covid; Climate change, energy and sustainability; Trade, investment and growth; Digital transformation; 2030 agenda and development cooperation; Social cohesion and future of welfare systems; Infrastructure investments and financing; Multilateralism and global governance; International finance; Migrations; Reforming the T20.

In the closing session, representatives of international organizations, institutions and the G20 Sherpas of Saudi Arabia, Indonesia and the OECD discussed how the T20 and the G20 could have a real impact.

The leaders of the G20 are called to respond to the demanding global challenges facing us. An inclusive, effective and policy-oriented T20 can help the G20 achieve this ambitious goal.