The world will be watching the G20 leaders in Brisbane this weekend (November 15-16) to see if they can address the world’s slow economic growth, the problem of anonymous companies and global inequality. As the host country, Australia has had the strongest voice in setting the G20 agenda, as well as in facilitating the relationships of the G20 with the business community, organized labor and civil society.
The G20 has a long history of working with the business and labor communities, and so it is appropriate that it now recognizes the importance of strengthening dialogue with civil society. The Australian government, as the president of the G20 in 2014, appointed a civil society steering committee, or “C20,” and provided limited financial support for its secretariat. This was seen as a positive move by civil society actors. Unfortunately, the Australian government delayed approving NGO access to the G20 media center until just three weeks before the summit, and then allowed only a few days for the civil society representatives to register. This process prevented many NGOs from taking part, and soured what has otherwise been a good working relationship.