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explainer

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen gives a news conference ahead of the G20 Summit and the COP26 UN Climate Change Conference, in Brussels on Oct. 28.JOHANNA GERON/Reuters

International leaders descend on Rome this weekend for a summit of the Group of 20 – a forum that gathers together the world’s biggest rich and emerging economies, plus a handful of major institutions.

Here is an explanation of what the Group of 20 is, and a look at some of the issues surrounding the Oct. 30-31 meeting.

Who does the G20 represent?

The group accounts for more than 80 per cent of world GDP, 75 per cent of global trade and 60 per cent of the population of the planet. Its members also spew out an estimated 80% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

What are the G20 member nations?

Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Britain, Canada, China, France, Germany, Japan, India, Indonesia, Italy, Mexico, Russia, South Africa, Saudi Arabia, South Korea, Turkey, the United States, and the European Union. Spain is also invited as a permanent guest. In addition the heads of major international organizations, such as the United Nations and International Monetary Fund (IMF), are invited.

When was it created?

It was initially founded in 1999 after the Asian financial crisis and intended to be a forum for the major finance ministers and central bank governors. Leaders were added to the mix in the midst of the 2008 financial crisis.

Annual summits drawing together heads of state and government have been held since 2010, with the host country changing yearly.

What has Italy done?

The Italian presidency has organized 175 events, 20 ministerial meetings and three leaders’ meetings – two held virtually on the COVID-19 crisis and Afghanistan, and one in person in Rome this coming weekend.

What are the main themes at this G20 summit?

The meeting will be dominated by climate change ahead of the COP26 conference. The leaders will also discuss the economic recovery after the COVID-19 pandemic, the global vaccination campaign, sustainable development and ways of bolstering multilateral co-operation in the front of world crises.

What’s happening at the Italy G20 meeting?

G20 finance ministers will hold an in-person meeting on Friday, with health ministers joining via video, to prepare the way for the leaders summit.

The leaders will get together on Saturday morning with the first roundtable session due to start at 11.45 a.m. local (0930 GMT). They will attend a gala dinner hosted by the Italian president in the evening and have a walk through Rome’s historic city center on Sunday morning before resuming talks at 11.05 a.m. local. The event ends with a news conference by Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi set for 4.15 p.m.

Besides the main leaders, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands is due to address a side event on Saturday and Britain’s Prince Charles speaks at a gathering on Sunday morning.

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