G20 Executive Talk Series

B20 Executive Committee

Dr. Jürgen Heraeus

B20 Chairman

B20 Germany: Resilience, Responsibility and Responsiveness

Germany took over the G20 Presidency in challenging times. Current events from the UK Referendum to the US Elections have demonstrated three things: Nothing can be taken for granted. Polls and forecasts frequently fail. And the world is becoming more and more uncertain. At the same time policy-makers around the world face massive challenges such as climate change, high unemployment, and security concerns.

Together, G20 members generate around 85 percent of global gross domestic product. In addition, they account for more than three quarters of world trade. As a consequence, this cooperation offers the outstanding opportunity to shape global economic governance. Our global economy is changing rapidly. We are facing a multitude of risks: climate change, political conflicts, terrorism to name just a few.

The G20 can serve as an agenda setter. It has proven repeatedly that it can provide important impetus. It can build trust between our governments and ensures international cooperation.

Our job as B20 is to assist the head of states in setting the framework for future-oriented, sustainable economic growth. The B20 is member-driven. We agree on our positions by consensus. Over the months, hundreds of companies—big and small ones—and business associations worked together in taskforces and working groups on a wide range of issues. Representing all regions of the world and all business sectors. We are proud to say that we can provide the necessary expertise to find answers for today’s global economic challenges.

But the B20 recommendations are not limited to how to generate economic growth. The overall aim of the B20 is to lead the global economy towards a sustainable and future-oriented path. This is done through the consolidation, review, and thorough discussion of its members’ positions. The B20 strives to deliver concrete, actionable recommendations to the G20. In doing so it enables political decision-making based on actual needs and real world solutions.

B20 Germany has chosen its motto accordingly: Resilience, Responsibility and Responsiveness—Towards a Future-oriented, Sustainable World Economy. Resilience is not a term restricted to financial systems. Instead resilience in an economic sense must also be a holistic concept, including new frameworks for disruptive technologies brought about by digitalization and those suited for increased uncertainty around the world to ensure crisis-responsiveness. As a family entrepreneur myself, I call for responsible leaders who address challenges such as climate change and digitalization pro-actively. In the light of the recent rise of anti globalization movements, the motto of “responsiveness” seems timelier than ever. The G20 as an international forum facilitates participation of SMEs and developing countries in global value chains in order to ensure inclusive growth, while national policymakers have to develop retraining, life-long education and social policies that effectively respond to a rising feeling of being left-behind by globalization.

We have therefore continued working on many issues which have been dealt with before: trade and investment, financing growth and infrastructure, employment and education, as well as small medium enterprises. However, it was also high time that we deal with new issues. One of our top priorities is digitalization. The fourth industrial revolution does not only change the way we produce, trade and work, it changes the way we interact and communicate—in other words our daily lives. To fully harvest the fruits of digitalization, we need to adapt global rules, for example on digital trade. Another priority is climate change, energy, and resource efficiency. The earth’s resources are exploited in a manner never seen in history before. A practical solution to the planets resource problems is the circular economy. While many countries have already embraced this concept, we need to think globally, not just nationally or regionally.

Resilience, responsibility, responsiveness—if we want to ensure future-oriented, sustainable economic growth, business has an important role to play. We are ready to do so.


Dr. Jürgen Heraeus represents the global business community in the G20 process as B20 Chairman. He is Chairman of the Supervisory Board of Heraeus Holding GmbH and also serves as honorary Chairman of the German United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF.