Established in 1999 after a series of major international debt crises, the Group of 20 aims to unite world leaders around shared economic, political and health challenges. Here is a look at what the group is and does.

In addition to the United States, its members are Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, the European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, South Korea and Turkey. The African Union is also poised to join after an invitation on Saturday from Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India.

Collectively, the group’s members represent more than 80 percent of the world’s economic output.

It is a creation of the more select Group of 7, an informal bloc of industrialized democracies. Supporters argue that as national economies grow ever more globalized, it is essential that political and finance leaders work closely together.

The G20 meeting brings together finance ministers and heads of state representing the members. It bills itself as the “premier forum for international economic cooperation.”

The heads of state first convened officially in November 2008 as the global financial crisis began to unfold. The summit meeting is hosted by the nation that holds the rotating presidency; this year, it’s India.

The two-day summit usually focuses on several core issues around which its leaders hope to reach a consensus for collective action.

The goal is to conclude the gathering by issuing a joint statement committing its members to action, although the declaration is not legally binding. But one-on-one meetings between leaders on the sidelines often overshadow official business.


Author: Michael Crowley