Looking back on the Turkish G20 Presidency: The Role of Think Tanks
German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV)
On 9 December 2015 the Economic Policy Research Foundation of Turkey (TEPAV) and the German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE) convened a panel discussion in the Turkish Embassy in Berlin on the role of think tanks during the Turkish G20 Presidency.
The participants from the Federal Chancellery, Federal Ministries, embassies, political foundations, civil society organizations and academia were welcomed by Mr Ufuk Gezer (Minister Plenipotentiary, Turkish Embassy) who underlined the priority the Turkish G20 presidency has given to inclusiveness including the outreach to the several engagement groups such as the Think 20 (T20). Mr Güven Sak (Managing Director of TEPAV) focused his keynote on TEPAV’s approach as coordinator of the T20 activities in 2015. He highlighted the potential role of think tanks in building bridges between at times divided actors both within and between societies and countries. With the T20 process only in its 4th year TEPAV as a “think and do tank” had tried not only to bring closer together think tanks from the G20 and beyond but also to link them to other engagement groups like Business 20 or Civil 20. By facilitating dialogues the T20 had been able to discuss issues the G20 cannot agree on yet. He underlined that the Turkish inclusiveness-agenda fitted nicely with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs, 2030 Agenda) and that this topic would hold the potential to strengthen the Sherpa track vis-à-vis the Finance track. He closed by emphasizing that there is still a huge need to break free of traditional discourses prevalent in G20 and that T20 should introduce new actors beyond the North-Atlantic milieu and new topics like innovation and ICT.
During the ensuing panel discussion Peter Wolff from DIE, a T20 member, took up the innovation issue and linked the lack of it to the problems of low growth in many places. He also commented on the recently published Chinese G20 agenda paper asking how think tanks could best and critically contribute to issues like cross-country infrastructure, value chains or indicators for sustainable development. Some issues like fossil fuel subsidies would require rather politico-economic then technical answers. Adolf Kloke-Lesch from SDSN Germany, a network of twelve German think tanks, pointed to the increasing role of international think tank networks in providing policy advice to global governance processes in a collective mode. He further stressed the huge importance of the G20 for the implementation of the SDGs. This universal agenda could not be achieved globally if not implemented within the G20 countries domestically nor in the low- and middle-income countries if not supported by the G20 in a transformative way. Think tanks should actively support the development of the announced G20 action plan to align the G20 work with the 2030 Agenda.
During the discussion participants from the audience called for civil society involvement throughout the whole G20 process comparable to business involvement, and for reconciling the different G20 and UN processes on financing sustainable development. Other comments addressed questions of continuity within the T20 process, how to develop a T20 identity, and how to organize itself effectively.
In closing, Peter Wolff informed about the upcoming T20 China Kickoff Meeting in Bejing on December 14-15 and the T20 Conference in Berlin on May 12-13 organized jointly by the Shanghai Institutes for International Studies (SIIS), DIE, and Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES). He thanked Güven Sak for coming to Berlin to share his insights and invited all participants to stay in contact and engage in the upcoming T20 debates.
In closing, Peter Wolff drew the attention to the upcoming T20 China Kickoff Meeting in Beijing on December 14-15. He also informed about two upcoming events co-organised by DIE that are part of the official Chinese T20 calendar: on April 13-14 2016 DIE together with the Brookings Institution and SIIS are organizing an event during the Spring Meeting of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund focused on the G0 and the SDGs. With the same topical focus the SIIS, DIE, and Friedrich-Ebert-Foundation (FES) jointly organize a T20 conference in Berlin on May 12-13. Peter Wolff thanked Güven Sak for coming to Berlin to share his insights and invited all participants to stay in contact and engage in the upcoming T20 debates.
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© German Development Institute / Deutsches Institut für Entwicklungspolitik (DIE)
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