Two Ways to Get People to Care About the G20

The annual summit on global economic policy doesn’t have to be such a bore.

Photo via Flickr user South Bend Voice

The G20 leaders are meeting in Brisbane, Australia, this week. I know your eyes are probably already glazing over. Please keep reading! Outside of corporate boardrooms, some graduate school seminars, and really boring parties, the G20 is not a major conversation starter. It should be.

Founded in 1999, the G20 (Group of 20) is a meeting of the most powerful economies in the world. The meetings help shape policies that keep our fast and complex global economy running. G20 confabs were a big deal in 2008 and 2009 when the world economy was spinning out of control. Six years later, the worst of the economic crisis may have been avoided.

But we are still living in a world filled with massive inequality, unemployment, and environmental degradation. People sense intuitively that the G20 and similar institutions aren’t addressing the full scale of these problems.

To get citizens to tune in to these discussions, which will be organized this year around themes of economic growth and resilience, the G20 head honchos should take a look at some of the most exciting and hopeful trends in the social sector today. Here are two to consider.

First, it’s time for the world to seriously take notice of the cooperative economy. That’s right, it’s not just fancy food co-ops in Brooklyn and Community Supported Agriculture farms. Cooperatively owned enterprises, like the Evergreen Cooperative based in Cleveland, Ohio, employ lots of people and provide amazing social benefits. Author Gar Alperovitz argues that the growth of the cooperative economy will help create the next stage of economic evolution. Imagine the excitement and change G20 leaders could instigate if they encouraged cooperative economies.

Second, the G20 should take a look back at the People’s Climate March and #FloodWallStreet protests that took place this past September. Both actions featured critical masses of people demanding that the climate crisis be addressed fully and systemically. Many scholars already warn of the massive implications climate change could have on the global economy and the future of human civilization. That energy should fuel the G20 to seek real, durable solutions for global warming and its effects.

No doubt the G20 meeting will produce a few news headlines and maybe even some substantive policy actions. But in order for the G20 (and for that matter, other international bodies like it) to connect and build trust with the public, they need to look outside themselves for topics to discuss. Luckily for them, civil society is bursting with innovation.

Photo by Josh Couch on Unsplash

Christopher Columbus, Alexander Hamilton, William Shakespeare, and Sir Walter Scott are getting company. Statues of the famous men are scattered across Central Park in New York City, along with 19 others. But they'll finally be joined by a few women.

Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Sojourner Truth are the subjects of a new statue that will be on display along The Mall, a walkway that runs through the park from 66th to 72nd street. It will be dedicated in August of next year, which is fittingly the 100-year anniversary of the 19th Amendment that granted women the right to vote.

Currently, just 3% of statues in New York City are dedicated to women. Out of 150 statues of historical figures across the city, only five statues are of historical women, including Joan of Arc, Golda Meir, Gertrude Stein, Eleanor Roosevelt, and Harriet Tubman.

Keep Reading Show less

It's easy to become calloused to everyday headlines with messages like, "the world is ending" and "everything is going extinct." They're so prevalent, in fact, that the severity of these statements has completely diminished to the point that no one pays them any attention. This environmental negativity (coined "eco-phobia") has led us to believe that all hope is lost for wildlife. But luckily, that isn't the case.

Historically, we have waited until something is near the complete point of collapse, then fought and clawed to bring the species numbers back up. But oftentimes we wait so long that it's too late. Creatures vanish from the Earth altogether. They go extinct. And even though I don't think for a single second that we should downplay the severity of extinction, if we can flip this on its head and show that every once in a while a species we have given up on is actually still out there, hanging on by a thread against all odds, that is a story that deserves to be told. A tragic story of loss becomes one about an animal that deserves a shot at preservation and a message of hope the world deserves to hear.

As a wildlife biologist and tracker who has dedicated his life to the pursuit of animals I believe have been wrongfully deemed extinct, I spend most of my time in super remote corners of the Earth, hoping to find some shred of evidence that these incredible creatures are still out there. And to be frank, I'm pretty damn good at it!

Keep Reading Show less
The Planet

For more than 20 years. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has served the citizens of Maine in the U.S. Senate. For most of that time, she has enjoyed a hard-fought reputation as a moderate Republican who methodically builds bridges and consensus in an era of political polarization. To millions of political observers, she exemplified the best of post-partisan leadership, finding a "third way" through the static of ideological tribalism.

However, all of that has changed since the election of Donald Trump in 2016. Voters in Maine, particularly those who lean left, have run out of patience with Collins and her seeming refusal to stand up to Trump. That frustration peaked with the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Keep Reading Show less
NHM Vienna/Hans Reschreiter

Wealth inequality has been a hot topic of discussion as of late, but it's something that's occurred all throughout history. Class structure is a complicated issue, especially when you consider that haves and have nots have been in existence for over 4,000 years.

A study published in Science took a look at over 100 late Neolithic and early Bronze Age skeletons found in a burial site in southern Germany. The study "shed light on the complexity of social status, inheritance rules, and mobility during the Bronze Age." Partly by looking at their teeth and the artifacts they were buried with, researchers were able to discover that wealth inequality existed almost 4,000 years ago. "Our results reveal that individual households lasting several generations consisted of a high-status core family and unrelated low-status individuals, a social organization accompanied by patrilocality and female exogamy, and the stability of this system over 700 years," the study said.

Keep Reading Show less
via / Flickr and Dimitri Rodriguez / Flickr

Bernie Sanders' presidential campaign looks to be getting a huge big shot in the arm after it's faced some difficulties over the past few weeks.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a leading voice in the Democratic parties progressive, Democratic Socialist wing, is expected to endorse Sanders' campaign at the "Bernie's Back" rally in Queens, New York this Saturday.

Fellow member of "the Squad," Ilhan Omar, endorsed him on Wednesday.

Keep Reading Show less