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Building G20 outreach: The role of transnational policy networks in sustaining effective and legitimate summitry

Slaughter, Steven 2015, Building G20 outreach: The role of transnational policy networks in sustaining effective and legitimate summitry, Global summitry, vol. 1, no. 2, pp. 171-186, doi: 10.1093/global/guv009.

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Title Building G20 outreach: The role of transnational policy networks in sustaining effective and legitimate summitry
Author(s) Slaughter, StevenORCID iD for Slaughter, Steven orcid.org/0000-0003-4385-6151
Journal name Global summitry
Volume number 1
Issue number 2
Start page 171
End page 186
Total pages 16
Publisher Oxford University Press
Place of publication Oxford, Eng.
Publication date 2015
ISSN 2058-7430
2058-7449
Keyword(s) G20
Transnational policy
Summitry
Summary G20 outreach processes, in the form of the Think 20, Labour 20, Business 20, and Civil 20, Youth 20, and Women 20, are a formal attempt by G20 leaders to engage various social sectors with G20 policymaking. This essay contends that G20 outreach processes are best understood as transnational policy networks, which are involved in widening the field of policy communication and deliberation. The importance of these transnational policy networks rest upon their role in developing and disseminating G20 policy priorities and principles; and are an attempt to enhance the legitimacy and influence of the G20 and its policy proposals.

"We agree that, in order to strengthen its ability to build and sustain the political consensus needed to respond to challenges, the G20 must remain efficient, transparent and accountable. To achieve this, we decide to … pursue consistent and effective engagement with non-members, regional and international organisations, including the United Nations, and other actors, and we welcome their contribution to our work as appropriate. We also encourage engagement with civil society.G20 Cannes Summit Final Declaration 2011 (G20 2011)"

The difficulty in balancing the effectiveness and representativeness of the Group of Twenty (G20) has led to sustained questions about its legitimacy (Cooper 2010; Rudd 2011; Cooper and Pouliot 2015). Consequently, while leaders have long sought external advice about the agendas of Group of Seven (G7) summits since 1975, and about the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors’ meetings (G20 FM/CBG) since 1999, there has been intensification, elaboration, and institutionalization of transnational networks of policymakers with respect to the G20 in recent years. These networks are especially evident in the form of the G20 working groups and G20 outreach processes involved in the G20 FM/CBG and the G20 leaders’ forum created in 2008.

G20 working groups include transgovernmental groups of government officials and outside experts within a specific policy area who are charged with preparing material for G20 deliberations. G20 outreach processes are a recent and more formal attempt by G20 leaders to engage various social sectors with the policymaking activity of the G20 and were first considered by the G20 membership in 2010 with a more formal engagement with business interests. This led to the formal development of G20 outreach groups in 2013 in the form of the Think 20 (think tanks), Labour 20, Business 20, Civil 20 and Youth 20, which include representatives from these sectors. In 2015, a Women 20 outreach group was also added. These outreach processes are best understood as transnational policy networks which have been built to support the G20’s capacity to be effective and legitimate.

This essay focuses on G20 outreach processes and examines why and how the G20 has sought to augment its intergovernmental summitry and transgovernmental working groups with transnational policy networks, purposely involving a range of societal interests. Transnational policy networks demonstrate the existence of policymaking practices which include the policy influence of experts and advocates outside government. These networks also indicate the ways in which governments, International Governmental Organizations (IGOs) and summits like the G20 engage society, or where elements of society engage themselves with the policymaking process (Stone 2008). These networks intersect with the intergovernmental activities of leaders and key diplomats, and overlap with the transgovernmental relationships of various levels of government bureaucrats (Baker 2009). One of the principle features of transnational policy networks is the way they create and channel the communication of political ideas and priorities. However, it is important to keep in the mind the purpose and power of actors involved in the network and consider who has the discretion and motivation to create the network in the first instance. As the G20 members stated in 2012, the aspiration for outreach is founded upon an intent to strengthen the G20’s capacity “to build and sustain the political consensus”. Consequently, it is important to consider how the development of transnational policy networks in the form of G20 outreach processes are able to sustain the effectiveness and legitimacy of the G20.

This essay contends that G20 outreach processes are best understood as transnational policy networks. These networks have been built to widen the field of policy communication and deliberation. Furthermore, these outreach processes and networks are an attempt to enhance the legitimacy and influence of the G20 and its policy proposals. While there is no doubt that outreach practices are “ad hoc responses to the widespread charge that the G20 reproduces the politics of exclusion in global governance” (Cooper and Pouliot 2015, 347), these practices have the potential to improve both the effectiveness and legitimacy of the G20. The G20 possesses uncertain legitimacy and members of the G20 demonstrate an awareness of this and a corresponding willingness to actively develop various political practices to support the capacity and legitimacy of the G20.

However, G20 outreach also enables the G20 to place some limit upon the policy narratives and ideas that develop within these policy networks. The G20 is liable to be misunderstood without examining the activity of these transnational networks because the G20 is fundamentally a deliberative policy forum rather than a negotiating forum of binding regulations. Transnational policy networks have the potential to scrutinize and amplify relevant policy ideas and thereby enhance the legitimacy of the G20 and strengthen the capacity of the G20 to address an array of global economic and social problems. However, while some narrative control is important to amplify the G20 agenda, too much narrative control will undermine its legitimacy and capacity to develop broad-based responses to global problems. This essay explores the formation of these transnational policy networks by first outlining the evolution of the purpose and configuration of the G20, then it considers the ways G20 outreach processes constitute transnational policy networks and why they have been established, and lastly, analyses how these networks operate to enhance the legitimacy and effectiveness of the G20.
Language eng
DOI 10.1093/global/guv009
Field of Research 160607 International Relations
Socio Economic Objective 940303 International Organisations
HERDC Research category C1 Refereed article in a scholarly journal
Copyright notice ©2015, Oxford University Press
Persistent URL http://hdl.handle.net/10536/DRO/DU:30083159

Document type: Journal Article
Collection: Alfred Deakin Research Institute
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