The 'Group of Seven' (G7) and the 'Group of Twenty' (G20) are informal fora for Heads of State and government. The annual rotating presidency decides which topics will be discussed at the summit and ministerial meetings. Political decision-makers get the opportunity to exchange informally. The G7 and G20 see themselves as a multilateral community of values.
As in almost all areas of life, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic had an impact on the work of the G7 and G20. In their joint , the G7 science and technology ministers committed themselves to an increased cooperation in the COVID-19 research, including: the research and development of therapeutics and vaccines, public access to research results and research data (Open Access), and the start of the Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI). At their meetings and in the joint statements during the and at the (regular) , the G20 emphasized their high appreciation for the international exchange in combating pandemics and stressed the importance of education continuity. In particular in the field of education, the effects of learning disruptions and physical absences can be attenuated via digital solutions. During the crisis, the international, sometimes ad-hoc exchanges via existing international, multilateral organisations were particularly emphasized.
The 'Group of Seven' (G7) and the 'Group of Twenty' (G20) are informal fora for Heads of States. The presidency, which rotates annually, is responsible for shaping the summit's agenda and for organising all other thematic ministerial meetings. As a troika, the incumbent presidency is supported by the previous and the succeeding presidency. Each presidency selects its own focus topics that are commonly discussed. Often, the presidency is given a specific motto. Decisions in both fora are made by consensus - nevertheless, they are not legally binding. Both fora do not have permanent headquarters, offices or staff.
The G7 and the G20 consider themselves a community of values for peace, security and a self-determined life worldwide. Freedom, human rights, democracy and the rule of law as well as prosperity and sustainable development are central principles.
Since their foundation, the heads of state and governments (of the G7 and G20) have usually met annually on the invitation of the respective presidency. These meetings in general offer the opportunity to exchange views in person. For each summit, a Leaders’ Declaration summarising the most important results and, if necessary, accompanying reports and work plans are issued. The themes and topics for the summit’s declaration are prepared by the Sherpas as well as the thematic ministers and secretaries. The Sherpas are personal delegates of the heads of state.
In the final summit declarations, the heads of states and governments agree on common goals, tasks and guidelines. The implementation of those common goals is primarily a national responsibility. In the case of Germany, the federal government informs the committees of the German Bundestag about the results after each summit. The Federal Governments’ reports of recent years on the G7 / G8 and G20 summits can be found under :
The summits are prepared and accompanied by meetings of respective group of ministers (e.g. ministers for climate and environment). Usually, they sign a topic-specific final declaration (e.g. Declaration of the G20 Education Ministers). Important aspects of these declarations are then incorporated into the Leaders’ Declaration.
In addition, there are multiple meetings in thematically-oriented working groups throughout the year in which representatives of ministries exchange ideas at working level and prepare the final declarations for the ministerial meetings.
The 'Group of 7' currently includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom and the USA. The European Commission has permanent observer status. This observer role has expanded over time. Since the Ottawa Summit in 1981, the EU Commission has regularly participated in all working meetings. However, as a supranational organisation, the EU Commission is not 'counted' as a country in the G7 and does not assume the rotating chair or presidency or is enabled to vote.
G7 countries © DLR
Each presidency has the liberty to invite further 'guest' countries or other international organisations and institutions (such as bodies of the UN).
After having violated Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity in 2014, Russia has until today been expelled from the G8. With this action the member states underlined that they are a community of values that does not accept the breach of international law without protest and without consequences.
In 1999, the G20 met for the first time at the level of finance ministers and central bank governors. In 2008, the G20 Heads of State met for the first time.
The forum consists of the following members: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, European Union, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Republic of Korea, Turkey, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. Unlike at the G7, the European Commission is a full member of the G20. Spain is a permanent guest country in the G20.
G20 countries © DLR
Next to the member states, other states and organisations participate in the work of the G20, if invited by the acting presidency. Regular participants within the G20 process are:
- The International Monetary Fund (IMF),
- the World Bank,
- the UN with its specialised agencies such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO),
- the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD),
- the World Trade Organization (WTO),
- the International Labor Organization (ILO),
- the Financial Stability Board (FSB)
- the presidential countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the African Union (AU) and the New Partnership for Africa's Development (NEPAD).
It is the task of the respective presidency to set priorities in terms of content, shape the agenda and organise and prepare the meetings.
Germany hosted the G7 / G8 in 1978, 1985, 1992, 1999, 2007 and 2015 and thus has held the chair six times so far. In 2022, Germany will take over the G7 presidency again.
Former and future G7 presidencies © DLR
The presidency rotates annually among the G20 members. For the rotation process, the countries are divided into 'regional' groups. The group internally determines who will take the chair in the relevant year.
In, 1999 and 2004, Germany hosted as president the G20 finance ministers' summits. The last German G20 presidency was in 2017. The summit took place on 7 and 8 July 2017 in Hamburg.
Italy currently has the G20 presidency; it will be followed by Indonesia in 2022.
Former and future G20 presidencies © DLR
It is the task of the respective presidential country to set priorities in terms of content. At the same time, references are often made to decisions and resolutions from earlier years, so that one can speak of a G7 agenda and G20 agenda.
At the annual G7 summit, the Heads of States and Governments meet to discuss themes and topics chosen by the respective presidency. In view of the economic challenges in the 1970s - the first oil crisis and the collapse of the system of fixed exchange rates (Bretton Woods) - the meeting originally served to develop approaches in international economic policy to counter the ongoing global financial crisis.
The G7 has expanded its agenda over the years so that it now covers a wide range of global issues and challenges. Some topics are regularly included in the agenda, such as world economy and trade, foreign and security policy, development policy and food security, climate and energy as well as labor and social affairs.
The main topics of the last G7 summits and ministerial meetings in the fields of education and science are listed below:
2020: USA Presidency
Extraordinary Meeting of the G7 Science and Technology Ministers | 28 May 20, (ad-hoc) virtual
- Joint G7-Science and Technology Ministers‘ Declaration on COVID-19
- Cooperation in joint COVID-19 research priorities
- Access to data: joint use of high-performance computers, Global Partnership on Articificial Intelligence (GPAI)
- Innovative approaches to combat the pandemic.
G7-Education Ministers‘ Meeting | 4 July, Paris
- Declaration concerns Early Childhood Education and the professionalisation of teacher training
- Communiqué regarding the combat of school bullying
G7-Education and Development Ministers‘ Meeting | 5 July, Paris
- Education for Girls
- Vocational Training in support of the social and professional integration
2018: Canada | no meeting of the education and science ministers
G7-Science Ministers‘ Meeting | 28-29 September, Turin
- Qualification of labor power for Research and Innovation
- The role research plays in promoting future technologies, innovations and their funding mechanisms
- Global research infrastructures and access to data.
There are currently four G7 working groups in the field of science and research that work on global challenges.
|Open Science||Japan, EU
|Future of the Seas and Oceans||United Kingdom
|GSO Global Research Infrastructures||currently China (together with the UK)||2013|
|Financing Science for Inclusive Growth||Canada, Italy||2017|
The G20 initially concentrated on reforms to regulate the financial markets and the international monetary system, as well as the macroeconomic cooperation between the G20 countries. In the meantime, however, the G20 agenda – like the G7 agenda – has been expanded and now includes a wide range of further topics.
Next to the focus topics economy and finance, the forum discusses Topics in the areas of:
- Finances and Consequences for the World Economy
- Global Health
- Climate Change and Environment
- Agriculture and Water
- Work and Labor
- Gender Equality
As a result of the first G20 Digital Ministers meeting in Germany in 2017, the topics of digitalisation and artificial intelligence have become increasingly important. Due to the thematic breadth of the G20, there is a large number of different working groups and their meetings.
For the first time in 2018, education was put on the G20 agenda by the Argentine presidency.
G20-Education Ministers Meeting on COVID-19 | 29 June, virtual
- As consequence of the pandemic: Exchange regarding the global disruption of education and potential solutions to attenuate negative impacts
- Equal access to education via more digitisation and more 'distance-learning'-concepts
- Changed forms of internationalisation in education
G20-Education Ministers‘ Meeting | 5 September, virtual
- Education continuity
- Early Childhood Education and technology
- Internationalisation in education
2019: Japan | no Ministerial Meeting on education and science
G20 Joint Education and Labor Ministers‘ Meeting | 5 September, Mendoza
- Skills for the future
- Financing education
- International cooperation in education
In preparation of the first G20 Education Ministers‘ Meeting, the G20 Education Working Group (EWG) was founded.
2017: Germany | no Ministerial Meeting regarding education and science
The heads of states and governments actively seek and support the dialogue with stakeholders from business, civil society, research and others. These groups make an important contribution to bringing the issues of the G7 and G20 into society in a participatory manner. In turn they make recommendations to the fora. The so-called 'engagement groups' agree on a position paper with recommendations for action and may exert influence in this way. Various non-governmental groups are present in this context:
- Business: B7 respectively B20,
- Civil: C7 respectively C20,
- Labour: L7 respectively L20,
- Science: S7 respectively S20,
- Think (tanks): T7 respectively T20,
- Universities: U7 Alliance,
- Women: W7 respectively W20,
- Youth: Y7 respectively Y20.
The groups consist of experts in the respective fields from all G7 / G20 countries. In the science 7 / science 20 engagement group for example, the National Academy of Sciences – the Leopoldina – represents German science and develops joint statements and recommendations in advance of relevant ministerial meetings.
The International Bureau supports the BMBF in its work to participate in the G7 and G20.