by Carol Ann Moccio, Americans for Informed Democracy

Preparations were under way last week at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre in Canada for a meeting of representatives from all over the world. However unlike earlier this year, these representatives are not athletes. Instead, they were world leaders representing the world’s 20 major economies at what is known as the G20 Summit.

Tracing its beginnings to an informal meeting of five finance officials at the White House in 1973, the G20 has grown into a summit set on confronting the global recession. In November of 2008 the G20 held its first summit hosted by President George W. Bush in Washington, D.C. The meeting was created as a response to the financial crisis of 2007-2010 and a growing recognition that important emerging countries were not adequately included in the core of global economic discussion and governance.

This most recent meeting was been given the theme, “Recovery and New Beginnings” and planned to cover a wide range of topics related to the economic recovery in the aftermath of the financial crisis including the restoration of financial stability, global financial regulations, and reform of international financial institutions.

So what’s the problem?

Although the topics brought to the table are surely important discussions to have in the face of a global recession, many are unhappy with the G20’s progress on other issues like climate change and poverty. Organizations such as Oxfam are calling for the countries of the G20 to follow through on promises made at past meetings to agree on a fair and sustainable solution to fight climate change and deliver more and better aid to end global hunger and improve maternal health care.

This isn’t the first time the G20 has faced criticism. In fact many accuse the G20 of only supporting economic policies beneficial for themselves. Protests and demonstrations are never absent during G20 summits, as was seen most recently in Toronto this week.

However the real question is if this summit will accomplish what it hopes – to find a ‘recovery and new beginning’ for this lagging world economy.