Joanne Yates. The G20 and the C20.

Jul 8, 2014

The G20 has become regarded as the premier forum for the promotion of economic cooperation.  It is comprised of 19 nations and the EU and together account for 85% of global GDP, 75% of global trade and two thirds of the global population.  As a consequence, its policy decisions have a significant impact on the well-being and life prospects of all citizens, but particularly on the poorest communities in the world, including those contained within G20 nations themselves.

The Australian C20 – one of five engagement groups of the G20 and representing a broad cross section of Australian civil society – is charged with the responsibility of bringing to the attention of the G20 leaders meeting in Brisbane in November 2014, the key and pressing concerns of those who comprise civil society in Australia, within G20 nations and other world civil society organisations.

There are two main elements to the Australian C20’s year-long focus – policy development and advocacy.  Under the leadership of Australian and international co-chairs, the C20’s policy papers were developed via a web-based crowdsourcing platform on four main policy themes (determined as priorities that international outreach and consideration of the G20’s agenda identified as most relevant) to positively influence the G20’s agenda to ensure outcomes address inequality and poverty alleviation.  The C20’s key themes include equity and participation, infrastructure, climate change and resource sustainability, and governance.

The Australian C20 welcomes the G20’s recognition of the importance of a civil society engagement in its processes and as a critical voice in its policy deliberations.  Civil society has an important and ongoing role to play in translating the G20’s language and architecture into a meaningful narrative to those most affected by its decisions.

Our C20 summit, attracting 350 Australian and international civil society leaders and representatives was held half way through the year to enhance our opportunities for engagement with key G20 officials at their joint sherpa and deputy finance ministers meeting.  We presented the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, with our communique the following day (Sunday 22 June), with its 18 recommendations across our four policy themes.  Significantly, there was overwhelming support in calling for climate change to be a stand-alone issue on the G20 agenda.  The C20 strongly believes that the G20 should use its leadership and authority to create the momentum necessary to achieve an ambitious global climate agreement at the UNFCCC 2015 meeting.  There simply cannot be sustainable economic growth without due attention being paid to addressing the urgent ramifications of climate change.

The C20 is conscious that change can only result from consistency and collaboration across the G20’s broad financial, economic and development agendas as well as deeper engagement from leaders and officials with all the engagement groups on an equal basis.  Where our policies align, we are pursuing outcomes with our colleagues across the other 20s, including business and labour.   This will add to the G20’s long term credibility and the legitimacy of its decisions.

Throughout the remainder of the year C20 policy leaders will continue to engage with Australian and international G20 officials and leaders about our recommendations to influence outcomes at the leaders summit in November.  We are confident leaders will welcome our interventions and that these will ultimately be reflected in the G20’s 2014 leaders declaration.  The chair of the G20 presents Australia with a unique opportunity to demonstrate its leadership on the world stage, as a nation willing to be ambitious about addressing some of the world’s difficult questions.  This at a time when Australia also sits in the chair of the Security Council, the world is set to determine its collective action on climate change and secure new goals about inclusive, sustainable development.  It is important that we use the chair wisely and with good intent.

The C20 communique and other information about our work can be found at our website, here.

Australian C20 members

The Australian C20 Steering Committee has drawn on the networks, talents, concerns and wisdom of the international as well as Australian civil society in developing its policy approaches and in drafting its recommendations.  Within the context of the G20’s agenda, it is concerned primarily with promoting inclusive and sustainable growth.

The Australian C20 Steering Committee is comprised of people with diverse backgrounds and experiences. The Australian Government appointed the Members of the Steering Committee in their own right due to their relevant and diverse experiences and talents, and/or because they also lead major Australian civil society organisations.

The Australian C20 Steering Committee is chaired by Tim Costello, World Vision Australia.

Other Australian C20 members include:


Cassandra Goldie Deputy Chair, Australian Council of Social Service
Kelvin Alley Salvation Army
Joseph Assaf Ethnic Business Awards
Frank Brennan Australian Catholic University
Jody Broun Aboriginal Advocate
Ian Callinan High Court, retired Justice
Tara Curlewis National Council of Churches of Australia
Julie McKay Australian National Committee for UN Women
Dermot O’Gorman WWF
Rob Moodie Melbourne University
Marc Purcell Australian Council for International Development
Bills Scales Swinburne University
Sally Sinclair National Employment Services Association
Rauf Soulio Australian Multicultural Council 
Helen Szoke Oxfam Australia
Greg Thompson Transparency International Australia
Joanne Yates Sherpa



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