Related Articles Commentary Paper SIIS Report
May 22 2017
G20 Development Agenda and 2030 Agenda: The Contribution of China Hangzhou Summit
By Zhang Haibing

Although the development agenda has usually been one of the G20 major agendas, it has not become the core agenda in the past ten summits. Since the beginning of the G20 summit, its core task mainly focused on two major aspects: the stability of global financial market; crisis response. Despite a common knowledge of the inherent connection between development and growth, it has not been an easy job to persuade the G20 members to shift their focus from responding to imminent short-term crisis to long-term sustainable development issue.

The 2016 G20 Summit becomes an important turning point, with the development agenda being treated with unprecedented attention. There is a direct connection with China’s goals as a host country. On one hand, as a major developing country, China keeps close watch on development issue and also wants to showcase achievements made through China’s economic development. On the other hand, making development issue becoming one of the G20 core issues in Hangzhou Summit reflected universal demand of the developing countries, which also shows China’s coordination capability and leadership in global economic governance. As the hosting country of 2016 G20 Summit, China has been working on the drafting of the collective action plan in implementing the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda. Even before the Hangzhou Summit China had made a high-profile statement on the goal of making two “first-time” cases in the G20 history in relation to development issue: putting development issue for the first time at an outstanding position in the global macro policy framework; and for the first time making an action plan for the implementation of 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.  In this vein, this report mainly explores the contribution of the G20 Hangzhou Summit from the perspective of implementation of UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

It’s been a win-win solution for the G20 Hangzhou Summit to select the implementation of 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda as one of its core issues. For the G20, focusing on 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda will increase momentum to its transformation from the primier forum in coordinating global economic affairs to a more comprehensive global governance forum for long-term sustainable development. For the United Nations, the year of 2016 has been the first year in the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, which means it’s an important window of opportunity. It’s been a great timing for the G20 to present its collective action plan in support of the UN work, which also constitutes a symbolic first step toward the global process of implementation.

The G20 mainly takes a “complementary” role in the implementation of the 2030 Sustainable Agenda, with the UN taking the central role in implementation. Yet this ‘complementary’ role of the G20 is not just a role out of convenience, but a ‘guiding’ role having the power of examples. The G20 has some unique advantages in the implementation of 2030 Agenda: flexibility, comprehensiveness, and connectivity.

The report presents three aspects of contribution by the G20 Hangzhou Summit in advancing the implementation of 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda: first, enhancing the mainstreaming of development issue, with it being included into the core agenda of macroeconomic policy coordination framework and becoming the third pillar of the G20 parallel with financial stability and crisis management; second, drafting a collective action plan for the implementation of 2030 Agenda, which needs periodic updates to have the sustained focus by the following members assume G20 presidency, as well as the combined effects of compliance assessment mechanism and national implementation plans. In this way, the G20 has begun to take a guiding role in the implementation of the 2030 Agenda. Third, infrastructure building has become one priority area for promoting global development, with the setup of the Infrastructure and Connectivity Alliance to promote global cooperation in infrastructure building. The 11 MDBs around the world have also been prompted to provide more financing commitments.