As seen below, the findings, produced from the preparatory meetings and reports, outline some of the issues that must be considered when creating an L20.
Appropriate Global Issue?
The choice of an appropriate issue for a Leaders Forum agenda will be critically linked to the contemporary global political situation. As such, a set of criteria has been developed against which to measure the appropriateness of an L20 topic:
- The issue must require a value-added initiative which is not likely to be achieved through existing forums or organizations (e.g., G-8, UN or Bretton Woods agencies).
- The problem must cut across the traditional "vertical" bureaucratic silos of government.
- There must be the possibility for a workable solution, i.e. a forward-looking focused suite of immediate deliverables, actions and promises that offer outcomes in which every participant comes out a winner.
- A solution must be realistic, and verifiable, with substantial broad-based benefits. It must have acceptable financing mechanisms.
- The issue must require legitimacy through adequate endorsement, particularly by the United States and the major developing countries.
The Project successfully narrowed the scope of potential Leaders Forum topics that would be relevant today. Among the many topics explored, four issues emerged as highly suited to discussion within a Leaders Forum in the immediate future: Infectious Diseases and Public Health (particularly Avian Flu); Energy Security; Climate Change; and Nuclear Proliferation.
A clearer picture of an L20 that can capitalize on the unique role of leaders has emerged. Some believe that a meeting of twenty leaders may be too large of a group for effective dialogue and for rapport to build among leaders. Some argue that the most appropriate countries for one issue might be the wrong group for another. The L20 notion has evolved to the concept of a "Leaders Forum" of the G8 countries + 5 (USA, France, Japan, Germany, UK, Russia, USA, Canada and Italy, + Brazil, China, India, Mexico, South Africa). There is also a strong case for an Islamic country - Egypt, Turkey or Indonesia, in the core group. In the variable geometry approach, additional countries may be invited to the table, depending on the agenda topic to be discussed. It should be noted, however, that this variable geometry approach may hinder the growth of collegiality among leaders, and further study is warranted before this technique is endorsed.
With very few exceptions, stakeholders involved in the project agree that the L20 approach, one that brings together a representative group of world leaders to deal directly with key global problems, is a valid idea that should be pursued. Today, an informal international network of researchers (totaling 400 individuals) now exists and is dedicated to finding sustainable solutions for today's complex global challenges.
Furthermore, the L20 Project participants have noted an increased urgency to break intransigent global deadlocks through a Leaders Forum approach. Since the L20 Project began in 2003, the international situation has worsened. In 2006 we faced the possible collapse of the Doha Trade Round, the spread of avian flu, the threat of global financial imbalances triggering a global recession, and the difficult situations involving Iraq and Iran.
The Centre for Global Studies is now doing the homework necessary to make a representative group of leaders a reality. The "Breaking Global Deadlocks" project has emerged as a tangible "proof of concept" for a Leaders Forum. The aim of this project is to demonstrate the merits and feasibility of a Leaders Forum approach to those who have the power to catalyze the first Leaders Forum meeting. The project aims to translate the L20 idea from a theory into a credible technique which can be usefully applied to solve the shifting, complex challenges of global governance in the twenty-first century.