B20 Tokyo 2019
B20 Business Summit
Dieter Kempf
Prof. Dieter Kempf
BDI President
Ever since the first meeting of the G20 heads of states and governments in 2008, the forum has faced strong criticism regarding its effectiveness and legitimacy. The increasingly difficult negotiations within the G20 and the challenging consensus-finding processes during past Summits feed into such criticism. However, the last ten years have shown that the G20 is indispensable in shaping the process of globalization and thus contributed to economic growth and prosperity.

Without a doubt, consensus-building has become more difficult, as we witnessed during the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires. The Communiqué falls short of those of previous summits, including the G20 Summit in Hamburg in 2017. The Communiqué neither provides any concrete measures on how to implement the Paris Agreement nor sufficiently addresses the rising trade tensions; it furthermore does not offer a comprehensive digital strategy. Given the current geopolitical environment, however, it was a success in and of itself that the Leaders managed to decide on a joint Communiqué.

Only Together We Will Make “Society 5.0 for SDGs” a Success Story
The G20 is, moreover, so much more than merely the Summit. The many working groups allow for a continuous exchange on issues ranging from financial market regulation to trade, digitalization, health, and development to name just a few. They help to build relationships and trust. Another important component is the G20 Engagement Groups. The seven Engagement Groups represent different civil society stakeholders, including but not limited to the scientific community, the private sector and trade unions, women, and young people. Meeting in parallel to the G20 work streams, they not only provide indispensable expertise to the policy-makers, they also help to build a G20 community. In times of rising protectionism, anti globalization sentiments, and increasingly aggressive rhetoric, the Engagement Groups serve as important channels of communication and exchange.

The Japanese Business 20 (B20) cycle has once again demonstrated the importance of the business community in the G20. In just three and a half months, the Japanese B20 Presidency – with the help of 20 mandated business federations from the G20 countries – has elaborated on innovative recommendations under the motto “Society 5.0 for SDGs”. In its Communiqué, the B20 conducts a clear assessment of the current political environment: sustainable and inclusive development is put at risk by rising protectionism, as well as by the lack of governments to sufficiently address climate change and limited resources. TheB20 proposes several actions to the Leaders to advance Society 5.0 for SDGs. This includes ensuring a digital infrastructure, advancing international cybersecurity and creating a framework for privacy protection. Regarding international trade, the B20 calls to renounce protectionist and unilateral measures, to strengthen free and rules-based trade and to address the challenge of WTO reform. In the field of climate change, the Japanese B20 Presidency put a focus on realizing a low-carbon society.

These actionable B20 recommendations, as well as the overall work and efforts of the Engagement Groups, demonstrate the importance of civil society within the G20. B20 has made its contribution to this year’s G20 process; now it is the G20’s turn to find a strong and implementable consensus on the most urgent challenges in international politics. Because only together we will make “Society 5.0 for SDGs” a success story!

We thank Keidanren and the Japanese B20 Presidency for their exemplary and invaluable efforts in this year’s B20 process! We furthermore look forward to the coming G20 and B20 cycle under the Presidency of Saudi Arabia.