The Los Cabos summit of G20 leaders which took place last week in Mexico’s plush Baja resort produced a 14-page communique that was long on words, but short on new action. With G20 governments still split between those arguing for growth and those still wedded to austerity, that was perhaps unsurprising, and it was a step forward that growth trumped austerity in the text, which started well with ”we are united in our resolve to promote growth and jobs.”
Unfortunately it then plunged into long paragraphs which belied the focus of that opening statement, and failed to match its urgency, despite a supplementary “Los Cabos Growth and Jobs Action Plan”, which merely summarises what countries are already doing. ITUC General Secretary Sharan Burrow said:
“Four years into the global financial crisis we are in a worse situation as regards employment and wages, than we were at the beginning at the crisis.”
Unlike the politicians, leaders of the business (B20) and union (L20) communities managed to agree a more focused action programme which they put to the G20. You can almost sense the impatience with the politicians coming from the social partners:
“Our expectation is that you will support our determination to scale up qualification-based apprenticeships and quality internships, address the challenge of developing policies to progressively draw the informal economy – present in all our nations – into the formal economy, and invest in infrastructure that helps to build sustainable economies and green jobs.”
Civil society generally also expressed disappointment over the absence of concrete commitments on development or climate (it’s not as if the Rio+20 summit immediately afterwards produced anything better). Director of Oxfam Mexico Carlos Zarco said “this collective failure of political will is shocking.”
We need to find better ways to influence world leaders than the now well-honed lobbying machine ahead of each summit (it is especially well-honed as far as unions are concerned, with meetings in Los Cabos with heads of government, leaders of international institutions and media stunts, this year on the issue of a Robin Hood Tax.)
So now the G20 moves on, with Russia taking up the Presidency on 1 December and the next G20 Leaders’ Summit pencilled in for St Petersburg in September 2013 (the Mexican G20 summit was early because of the forthcoming Presidential elections). Will anything have changed by then, or will there just be more of the same?