leaders of 19 nations and the European Union, known as the Group of 20,
are gathering at the Mexican beach resort Los Cabos for a two-day
summit, to be held Monday and Tuesday, with worries about economic
crises in several European countries overshadowing most other issues.
Officials from G20 working groups say the drive to help needy countries
remains a major focus of the summit.
Mariachi musicians greeted delegations from around the world as they
arrived at one of Mexico's most luxurious beach resort areas. But,
although much of their work in the next two days will take place in
hotels and conference halls within view of the beaches, the leaders
attending this summit will be spending much of their time talking about
the debt problems facing Greece, Spain and Italy.
The G20 host, Mexican President Felipe Calderon, says participants in
the summit should firm up their pledges to the International Monetary
Fund of more money to deal with the debt crisis. G20 nations promised to
provide more than $400 billion in new loans in April, but several have
yet to follow up on that pledge.
Representatives from some non-governmental organizations are worried
that the G20 focus on the problems of relatively rich nations in Europe
might detract from efforts to help poor, non-industrialized countries
where most of the world's neediest people reside.
"The last two summits have been dominated by the Eurozone crisis, by
Greece, and that means that there is very little agenda time for other
issues," said Christina Weller, lead economic analyst for London-based
Catholic Agency for Overseas Development.
Weller argues that G20 leaders would be helping their own countries by
doing more to help the millions of people in developing nations who
cannot participate in the global economy. She says poverty is more than
a moral blight.
"It is also an economic problem. It lowers demand. That is where the
growth should be is in those markets and if you tackle poverty,
everybody benefits," said Weller.
Barack Obama talks with Chief of Staff Jack Lew at the Esperanza Resort
in San Jose Del Cabo, Mexico, before the start of a bilateral meeting
with President Vladimir Putin of Russia, June 18, 2012. (Official White
House Photo by Pete Souza)
But, although the world leaders who meet here for two days may have
little time to discuss much beyond the debt crisis in Europe, officials
from those nations continue to advance their work on previously approved
agendas such as economic development and poverty reduction.
The director of Mexico's Agency for International Development, Rogelio
Granguillhome, who co-chairs the G20 Development Working Group, told
reporters that this effort has advanced steadily, in the past few years.
He says this group, which met here in Los Cabos in May, is presenting
leaders with concrete and precise recommendations on such issues as
infrastructure development, food security and green growth. This group
also worked in concert with representatives of the business sector, who
are holding a concurrent meeting, called the B20, at a nearby beach
The director of policy and business practices for the International
Chamber of Commerce, Stefano Bertasi, says corporate leaders from around
the world take part in these forums in an effort to be partners with
governments in promoting economic development.
"We want this to be an enduring, ongoing process of collaboration and
discussion that takes place before summits, during summits and after
summits," he said.
Bertasi says that, although there are areas of concern for businesses,
like the rise of protectionism and higher taxes, there are many areas of
mutual interest such as the promotion of green energy. He says the way
business leaders often work out differences on various issues can serve
as a model for government leaders as they struggle to find agreement.
"If we bring consensus views and ideas, brought by business to
government, hopefully, that will help governments themselves come to
consensus on some of these issues," said Bertasi.
Groups that might want to express disagreement with any of the actions
taken at either the G20 or the B20 meetings are quite restricted in what
they can do and where they can stage a protest. The meetings are being
held under tight security in an area along the tip of the Baja peninsula
where all access roads are patrolled by heavily armed Mexican federal
police and soldiers. Helicopters swoop overhead on a regular basis and
Mexican Coast Guard and Navy ships are anchored just offshore, in plain
sight of the summit participants and the thousands of tourists staying
at beachfront hotels.