The Sherpa process occupies a high very place in the Russian presidency’s scheme of things. Source: AP
The second Sherpa meeting of the G20 summit, to be held in St. Petersburg on September 5-6, 2013, is currently underway in Moscow. The high-level Indian delegation attending this important meeting (March 3-4) is led by Planning Commission Deputy Chairman Montek Singh Ahluwalia. Russia's Sherpa and representative of the Russian President on the issues of the Group of major industrial economies and liaisons with representatives of G20 leaders is Ksenia Yudayeva, Head of the Presidential Experts' Directorate.
Russia took over the presidency of G20 for the first time on December 1, 2012. The first Sherpa meeting was held in Moscow on December 12, 2012 while the third one is scheduled for March 2013.
The Sherpa Track
A Sherpa is a personal representative of a G20 member head of state or government and is involved in scheduling and negotiations throughout the preparatory process. They work on coordinating the agenda and seeking a consensus at the top political level. They are engaged in the drafting of declarations and other relevant documents for the G20 leaders.
Apart from discussing the preparatory process for the St. Petersburg summit, the second Sherpa meeting’s main objective is to discuss the main outcomes of the first Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors' Meeting, which was held on February 15-16, 2013. At this structured meeting, the Sherpas are scheduled to consider such issues as implementation of the Framework for Strong, Sustainable and Balanced Growth; financing for investment; reform of international financial architecture; financial regulation; and impact of structural reforms on growth.
Besides, the Sherpas will also be presented reports on the results of the working groups' meetings held recently - Energy Sustainability Working Group (ESWG), Task Force on Employment (ETF), Anti-Corruption Working Group (ACWG) and Development Working Group (DWG). The Sherpas will be also addressed by the representatives of Business 20, Civil 20, and Youth 20 who will elaborate on the working programme of their respective outreach formats in 2013.
A senior Indian official involved in the Sherpa track for the G20 summit 2013 told this writer that the single biggest priority conveyed to the Sherpas by the Russian presidency is to develop a set of measures aimed at boosting sustainable, inclusive and balanced growth and jobs creation around the world. Everything else is secondary to this most important template set out by the Russians for the St. Petersburg summit.
Russia intends to broaden the G20 discourse and impart a deep focus on boosting economic growth and job creation by introducing two new topics: financing for investment and government borrowing and public debt sustainability.
From the Russian presidency’s perspective, all outreach events leading up to the September 2013 summit are aimed at starting a new cycle of economic growth. The Russian strategy is to achieve this objective through a trident of overarching priorities: growth through quality jobs and investment; growth through trust and transparency; and growth through effective regulation.
The broad G20 agenda for the 2013 summit is sub-divided into the following eight major areas: framework for strong, sustainable and balanced growth; jobs and employment; international financial architecture reform; strengthening financial regulation; energy sustainability; development for all; enhancing multilateral trade; fighting corruption.
Russia Attaches High Importance to Sherpa Process
The Sherpa process occupies a high very place in the Russian presidency’s scheme of things. Russia wants to strengthen and streamline the working formats and meetings along the two central tracks - Sherpas and Finance Ministries and relevant working groups. To inject a result-oriented approach, Russia has come up with a novel idea: a joint meeting of finance and labour ministers. The Sherpa track is an important part of the Russian strategy.
Besides, in the run up to the G20 leaders’ summit, the Russian Presidency plans to hold extensive outreach consultations with all interested parties, including non-G20 countries, international organizations, private sector, trade unions, civil society, youth, think tanks and academia. The idea is to boost legitimacy, transparency and efficiency of the G20 and enhance cross-sectoral synergy through active interaction among all these groups - another innovation of the Russian presidency.
The Russian presidency unveiled its innovative strategy by holding a meeting of the Think 20 wherein world's leading think tanks participated in a brainstorming session on December 11, 2012, a day before the first Sherpa meeting took place in Moscow.
The Sherpas’ meeting was also attended by the representatives of international organizations engaged in the G20 working process, including the World Bank, the IMF, the UN, the WTO, the OECD, the International Labour Organization and the Financial Stability Board.
The writer is a New Delhi-based journalist-author and a strategic affairs analyst.
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