To include stakeholders beyond just national governments and international institutions and to increase broader participation in G20 decision-making processes, several G20 engagement groups were established over the years which bring together international social actors from varying backgrounds. Currently, there are eight such formal engagement groups:
All of these engagement groups support the policy deliberations of the G20 with their relevant expertise and attempt to ensure that voices from civil society and academia are considered in G20 discussions. Most of these engagement groups advocate or campaign around specific issues or ideas.
An exception to the rule is the Think20 (T20) engagement group. This engagement group has a much broader mandate in supporting G20 policy processes across all its topical dimensions. This engagement group was launched under the Mexican G20 presidency in 2012 and brings together leading international think tanks, research centers, and academia in an effort to support the G20’s policy development and implementation especially through evidence-based discourse (Stone 2015). Behind bringing in these voices from the academic realm into the G20 process was a view that think tanks would be able to ‘significantly contribute to the transparency, analysis and evaluation of public policy’ (G20 2012). In this capacity, the T20 serves as an ‘ideas bank’ of the G20; a source of accountability through monitoring on how well G20 governments deliver on their commitments; and a potential avenue to increase ‘buy-in’ to the G20 processes by way of explaining the importance of the G20 and its policies (Thirlwell 2012).
Reflecting its broad inputs across policy areas, the T20 is divided into eleven task forces with different issue foci ranging from “Global Health and Covid-19” (Taskforce 1) to “Social Cohesion and the Future of Welfare Systems” (TF6), “Multilateralism and Global Governance” (TF8), and “Reforming the T20” (TF11). Ahead of each year’s G20 leaders’ summit, each task force produces about ten different policy briefs on specific subjects. In these policy briefs world-leading researchers on the issue highlight a challenge requiring policy action by G20 member states, before they advise policymakers how to overcome said challenge, outlining concrete policy options. In this way, the group provides analytical depth to the G20 discussions and assists leaders in developing policy measures centered around the G20 priorities.
The leadership role of the T20 yearly is taken up by think tanks and academic institutes from the host country of the G20 summit. At this year’s summit in Italy, the T20 is headed and coordinated by the Italian Institute for International Political Studies (ISPI) and co-chaired by the Istituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) and the Bocconi University. Next year’s summit hosted by Indonesia will turn to Indonesian think tanks and academic institutes.