G20 Policy Developments in 2017

By Bart Kolodziejczyk

This year’s Group of Twenty (G20) is hosted by Germany. The 2017 annual G20 Summit of the heads of state and government will be the twelfth meeting of the G20, and it will be held on 7–8 July 2017 in the city of Hamburg. However, the hosts prepared a myriad of events, workshops and policy forums throughout the year.

The G20 host focused their G20 presidency on healthcare issues. In addition to issues related to global economic growth and financial market regulation, health is also an important focus of the G20 Summit. For the first time, the science and research community is included in this dialogue as “Science20 Dialogue Forum”. Under the leadership of the German National Academy of Sciences Leopoldina, the science academies of the G20 countries have elaborated science-based recommendations on improving health globally.

At the Science20 Dialogue Forum on Improving Global Health held on 22 March 2017 in Halle (Saale), national and international experts discussed strategies and tools to combat communicable and non-communicable diseases. Moreover, the Science20 Statement was officially handed over to German Federal Chancellor Dr. Angela Merkel. The document provides a basis for the upcoming G20 Summit consultations.

Global health, specifically the management of infectious and non-infectious diseases, causes ongoing and unaddressed issues worldwide for individuals, health systems, and entire economies. The experts gathered at the Science20 Dialogue Forum called for strong short- and long-term data-based strategies to address these health issues. In a nutshell, the Science 20 Statement calls for (a) ensuring strong healthcare and public health systems, (b) apply existing knowledge to prevent diseases, (c) addressing the social, environmental, and economic determinants of health, (d) ensuring access to healthcare and related resources globally, and (e) improving and enhancing the extending strategies for surveillance and data sharing in health.

In addition to Science20, Think20 held another summit called “Global Solutions.” The Think20 or T20 is a network of think tanks and research institutes based in the G20 countries. The role of T20 is to provide evidence-based policy advice to the G20, facilitate interaction among its members and the policy community, and to communicate with the broader public about issues of global importance. This year, the Think20 Engagement Group has come up with a new initiative: the G20 Insights Platform. The policy briefs produced by Task Forces from the Think20 Group, as well as other sources, are clustered in several different policy areas and describe either recommendations or visions.

The number of high-quality contributions in the areas of 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Policy and Finance are of specific importance given the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement. It is very likely that the climate change and the U.S. position on it will be discussed at the Summit in July. The largest number of briefs contributions have been made in the area of Digitalization, which covers areas such as the opportunities and challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution, future of jobs, and blockchain technologies, among others.

Two of the briefs co-authored by the author; Consolidated G20 synthetic biology policies and their role in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Nanowaste: Need for Disposal and Recycling Standards have been presented at the Think20 Summit – Global Solutions in Berlin on 29-30 May 2017. While opportunities of both nanotechnology and synthetic biology are widely heralded, issues such as nanowaste and biohacking are often underestimatedss. The two above briefs urge G20 members to develop consolidated policy frameworks to regulate both fields.

All of the above events are only an introduction to the forthcoming G20 Summit where heads of state or heads of government of 20 major economies will work together and based on the outcomes of the above mentioned forums will develop new consolidated policy approaches and regulations to some of the most urging global issues.

The next G20 Summit and Science20 Dialogue Forum will be held under the G20 Presidency of Argentina in Buenos Aires in 2018.