How do the most powerful economies in the world balance competition with cooperation? What structures are in place to facilitate this work? 

The Group of 20, or G20 for short, is an international grouping that brings together the biggest players on the global stage, including the world's largest economies and the most populous nations. But does a meeting of the world's most powerful political leaders always result in friendship, unity and coordinated action for the greater good? Let's find out!

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Table of contents

    G20 meaning

    The countries of the G20 represent about two-thirds of the world's population and about half of the world's land area.

    International refers to something that involves nations from around the world, while intergovernmental means something that brings together the governments of different countries and territories.

    The G20 Summit is formally known as the "Summit on Financial Markets and the World Economy".

    G20 G20 Reunion in 2019 StudySmarterFig. 1 – G20 Summit in 2019.

    The G20 members

    The G20 is named for its twenty members - nineteen countries and the European Union. The G20 members account for over 80% of global GDP, 75% of world trade and 60% of the world's population3—statistics show just how influential this group is.

    GDP stands for Gross Domestic Product and is an economic indicator that measures the wealth of a country.

    The EU is a group of 27 European countries that have entered into a political and economic union, with common sets of laws and common policy goals, including foreign policy.

    Importantly, the G20 brings together countries that are often in competition with each other - economically or politically - and provides a forum for meetings between countries of the smaller G7 grouping of (mostly) Western nations. For example, the Russian Federation was suspended from what was then the G8 in 2014, formally leaving in 2017. However, Russia remains a member of the broader G20 grouping. Below is a list of all the current members of the G20:

    • The EU

    • Germany

    • Japan

    • Italy

    • The United Kingdom

    • France

    • The United States of America

    • Canada

    • Argentina

    • Brazil

    • Russia

    • China

    • Mexico

    • Australia

    • India

    • Saudi Arabia

    • Indonesia

    • Turkey

    • South Korea

    • South Africa

    The Group can also include other countries in G20 meetings by inviting them as guests. Guests may be re-invited, making them semi-permanent members of the G20. Spain is not a member of the G20 but is permanently invited to participate in summits.

    The G20 Summit

    Officials of the G20 members meet year-round at the ministerial level. The outcome of these meetings is handled in the annual G20 Summit, where leaders deliberate and negotiate solutions to global economic problems.

    The G20 created the Leader's Summit in 2008. The last one occurred in Italy in October 2021, when the members released the Rome Declaration.

    The 2009 G20 Summit took place in the United Kingdom 2009 and was chaired by the then-Prime Minister, Gordon Brown. The London Summit dealt with the fallout of the 2008 global recession. Members agreed to strengthen the financial system and committed to giving an additional 1.1 trillion dollars to support jobs and growth across the planet.

    Some experts emphasise the G20's flexibility compared with other multilateral groups or institutions. For example, Stewart M. Patrick, an analyst for the Council of Foreign Relations (CFR), states that the G20 could "help shake up a sometimes rigid geopolitical order"1.

    This flexibility allows heads of state to hold informal meetings during the Summit in order to discuss particular bilateral concerns or other issues which aren't on the formal agenda of the Summit.

    Individual leaders of the G20 sometimes meet on the side lines of the G20 Summit, and these meetings often grab headlines on international media. For example, at the Hamburg G20 Summit in 2017, Donald Trump met Russian leader Vladimir Putin for the first time, holding bi-lateral meetings that raised many concerns among America's allies around the world.

    Leaders of the G20

    The G20 leaders refer to the heads of government of the member countries, as well as the President of the European Council and the President of the European Commission - the two leaders who together represent the EU. Here's a list of the current leaders of the G20.





    Alberto Fernandez



    Anthony Albanese

    Prime Minister


    Jair Bolsonaro



    Justin Trudeau

    Prime Minister


    Xi Jinping



    Emmanuel Macron



    Olaf Scholz



    Narenda Nodi

    Prime Minister


    Joko Widodo



    Mario Draghi

    Prime Minister


    Fumio Kishida

    Prime Minister

    South Korea

    Yoon Suk-Yeol



    Andres Lopez Obrador



    Vladimir Putin


    Saudi Arabia

    Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud


    South Africa

    Cyril Ramaphosa



    Reccep Tayyip Erdogan


    United Kingdom

    Boris Johnson

    Prime Minister

    United States of America

    Joe Biden


    European Union

    Ursula Von Der Leyen

    President of the European Commission

    European Union

    Charles Michel

    President of the European Council

    Table 1 – Leaders of the G20.

    G20 G20 Distribution Map StudySmarterFig. 2 – G20 map distribution.

    The G20 presidency

    The G20 presidency rotates among the members every year. Indonesia currently holds the presidency, which will host the next Leaders Summit that will take place in November 2022 in Bali.

    The slogan of the Indonesian presidency was "recover together, recover stronger" 2 and the focus of the last conference was on the following issues:

    • Global Health Architecture

    • Digital Transformation

    • Suitable Energy Transition

    "Through these pillars, Indonesia will continue to take the lead on ensuring equitable access to COVID-19 vaccines, promoting sustainable and inclusive economic development through MSMEs participation and digital economy" 3 - Priority Issues Section on the G20 website.

    MSMEs is an acronym for micro, small and medium enterprises.

    The Indonesian G20 Presidency has had to address a series of challenges and economic issues, such as the post-pandemic recovery, climate change and the effect of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

    As it temporarily holds the organisation's presidency, Indonesia will host the next G20 Summit in Bali, one of the most prominent cities on Java Island. Other functions of the presidency account for coordinating the country members and their finance ministers.

    The G20 Troika

    The Group's continuity is in the hands of the "Troika", a title created to name the temporary presidency member, its predecessor, and its successor. The Troika exists in order to ensure continuity in the G20's agenda. Many of the policies or priorities set out by the G20 can only be addressed over several years and the Troika ensures that the group's focus on particular issues is sustained,

    The current Troika countries in the G20 are Italy, Indonesia, and India, which will hold this position for the year.

    The G20 Troika is the name given to the three countries that currently hold the presidency, previously held the presidency and will hold the next presidency. They are in charge of ensuring the continuity of the G20.

    The Troika, as previously said, are members who have held the presidency—but how is this presidency gained? Well, it is in no way democratic but has already been laid out since the Group's formation.

    At the start of the G20's existence, the founders agreed on a rota-like system, with the members listed in order, so they could all take turns holding the Group's presidency. For example, looking at the current Troika, Italy was before Indonesia in the order, and India will come after them both.

    Looking at the current Troika of the Group, Italy came before Indonesia, and India followed Indonesia, who will next take up the presidency, and so on.

    G20 - Key takeaways

    • The Group of Twenty, G20, is an international and intergovernmental group of heads of state, finance ministers and ministers of central banks from around the world.
    • The G20 presidency rotates among the members every year. The presidency is currently held by Indonesia, which will host the 2022 Summit in Bali. The slogan of the Indonesian presidency is "recover together, recover stronger".
    • Officials of the G20 members meet year-round at the ministerial level. The outcome of these meetings is handled in the annual G-20 Summit, where the prominent leaders of the planet deliberate and negotiate about the significant economic problems and issues on the international stage.
    • The G20 comprises a series of heads of state and government of the country members, who are the organisation's leaders.
    • The Members of the G20 are The EU, Germany, Japan, Italy, The United Kingdom, France, The United States of America, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, Russia, China, Mexico, Australia, India, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia, Turkey, South Korea, South Africa.


    1. What Does the G20 Do?
    2. G20 Presidency of Indonesia – G20 Presidency of Indonesia
    3. G20 Presidency of Indonesia – G20 Presidency of Indonesia
    4. Fig. 1 – Equipe de Jair Bolsonaro e de Lee Hsien-Loong na 14.ª reunião de cúpula do G20 (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/a/a9/Equipe_de_Jair_Bolsonaro_e_de_Lee_Hsien-Loong_na_14.%C2%AA_reuni%C3%A3o_de_c%C3%BApula_do_G20.jpg) by Alan Santos (https://www.flickr.com/photos/palaciodoplanalto/48149896372/in/photostream/ licensed by CC-BY-2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en).
    5. Table 1 – Leaders of the G20.
    6. Fig. 2 – G20 (https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/e/e7/G20.svg) by BlankMapWorld (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:BlankMap-World.svg) licensed by PD-self (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Category:PD-self).
    Frequently Asked Questions about G20

    What is a G20 summit?

    The G20 Summit is an annual meeting between world leaders and finance ministers where they discuss the major economic issues in the planet.

    What is the G20?

    The G20 is an international and intergovernmental group of heads of state, finance ministers and ministers of central banks from around the world.

    What does the G20 stand for?

    The G20 focuses on increasing coordination among powers in order to tackle major global economic challenges, such as climate change, inflation and digital transformation.

    Who are in the G20?

    The G20 comprises 19 countries, such as the United States, China, the United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, South Africa and Brazil. It also includes the European Union.

    Who are the G20 leaders?

    The G20 leaders are the heads of State and government who meet on the G20 annual Summit to talk about global economic challenges.

    Test your knowledge with multiple choice flashcards

    Which is the G-20 share of the global GDP?

    How many countries are there in the G-20?

    Where will the next G-20 Summit take place?


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