G20: Achieving financial resilience and the SDGs requires multilateral action

On July 7th-8th, world leaders gathered in Hamburg for the annual G20 summit. At ICAEW, we hosted a G20 policy roundtable in London, convening senior diplomats, business and industry leaders to discuss the highlights of the summit and challenges ahead.

The German presidency identified the key challenges and priorities for the year ahead as reforming the global financial system; implementing the SDGs to combat climate change and achieve fair economic development; and promoting the transition towards cleaner forms of energy.

However, this year's summit was also set against the backdrop of a politically challenging environment. For the first time since the G20’s establishment, we witnessed bilateral relations taking precedence over multilateral cooperation. I believe this trend can severely undermine progress in the aforementioned areas. More than ever, ICAEW believes that a world of strong economies can only be achieved through multilateral cooperation.

Global financial resilience – joint action is needed to achieve stable markets

At our event, the Head of Division of Economic and Global Affairs at the German Embassy talked about the importance of stable financial markets to achieve sustainable growth. ICAEW’s new vision of a world of strong economies supports this.

I believe ethical leadership is vital if we are to achieve such stability. Our members are leaders in every sector of the economy. They work in the public interest and hold themselves accountable to high standards. This resonates strongly with the G20’s work, but accountability mechanisms need to be improved to accurately measure their success.

Another important step towards achieving long term growth is encouraging G20 members to eliminate bad debts and ensure fair distribution of resources. At our roundtable, we agreed that protectionist policies should be combatted by deepening trade and investment relationships. The latter will only be attained by having an inclusive dialogue with business leaders, members of civil society and multilateral organisations about the challenges of globalisation and how its benefits can be more widely shared.

Implementing the SDGs agenda will require a sense of shared responsibility

The SDGs provide an ambitious framework to drive lasting economic and social change. But achieving their implementation will require a shared sense of responsibility. This means businesses of all sizes being sustainably minded, public institutions being held accountable for their actions and civil society working with both to ensure progress is made.

Green growth should be a top priority

To combat climate change and promote sustainable growth, the G20 should commit to increase investment in clean energy technologies and infrastructure. Energy security and efficiency measures should also be integrated into urban planning and development projects, to help minimise climate risks and increase investor certainty in the long-term. Greater collaboration in research, development and innovation will also play an important role in risk mitigation and green growth.