St Petersburg G20 Summit: Australian C20 statement

Dr Cassandra Goldie, CEO, ACOSS and Tim Costello, CEO, World Vision Australia

At the close of this 2013 Summit, we celebrate the inaugural official Civil G20 process under the Russian presidency, which enabled the voice and ideas of civil society to be heard by key decision makers at critical points in the process.

The C20 Summit in June in Moscow gave us significant access to the Russian G20 Sherpa and President Vladimir Putin, where our concerns around more equitable growth that benefits the poorest people were clearly heard and inserted into the process early enough to help shape the outcome.

This fruits of this labour can be seen in the recognition of the G20 that strong, sustained, balanced growth on its own is not good enough, it must be inclusive as well. This means the G20 must ensure that economic growth is shared more equitably. At a time when inequality is increasing in all but four of the G20 countries, this is clearly a major global challenge that must be tackled, and with great expertise in this area, civil society stands ready to assist leaders in meeting this challenge.

We also welcome the leaders’ recognition that jobs creation, particularly for the vulnerable, should be a priority of growth stimulation. Leaders stated that job creation efforts must prioritise employment for disadvantaged groups, particularly women, youth, people with disabilities and those unemployed over the long term.

We know that one of the most effective ways that countries can build community resilience to shocks and better protect their most vulnerable people is through strong social protection systems. Leaders have recognised this and we welcome their commitment to establishing and strengthening these systems in their countries.

There has been good progress on anti-corruption, with an agreement to crack down on tax evasion through automatic exchange of tax information between countries. We also welcome the action Leaders have committed to take on tax base erosion and profit shifting, which is particularly important for developing countries who lose £160 billion a year through tax evasion and dodging, this is a very positive step.

The St Petersburg Development Outlook, the much-awaited successor to the Development Working Group’s (DWG) Multi-Year Action Plan from Korea in 2010, has sharpened the focus of the group’s action to five priorities. In doing so, it has expressed its intention to have a stronger emphasis on action and outcomes. Achieving these will rely on close collaboration with civil society organisations, who work with the poor and vulnerable communities that the DWG strives to reach, and intimately understand their needs.

The Australian C20 recognises the groundbreaking role the Russian Civil G20 played in formalising civil society engagement with the G20 for the first time. We will build on this by running the second such C20 process as part of the Australian Presidency. This will be an inclusive process of policy development and engagement with G20 officials aimed at providing influential policy input to G20 decision-makers as they tackle the challenge of ensuring inclusive growth. The C20 will be a critical voice in adding depth to sustainable growth policies.

The Australian C20 steering committee will meet next Friday, 13 September to begin this process. We welcome the responsibilities, but our work has just begun as we look to build upon the impressive precedent created by the Russian C20 process.

6 September 2013

Find out more about Australian Civil Society 20 here.