The Pencil Guy: Hourann's illogical blog

World leaders, partying in Pittsburgh

Wednesday 30 September 2009 at 10:47 pm

Briefly — for I am spending more time in airports this week than I should — I wanted to comment on the curious instance last week of the Group of 20 industrialised nations meeting in Pittsburgh.

Not that long ago, the G20 seemed like an irrelevant organisation, and Pittsburgh an equally unimportant city (though I know people who’d say it still is!). But even if last Friday’s announcement was made up of “unenforceable vague standards”, in the words of one US Senator, it’s remarkable because at least there are standards being drawn up. Merely five or ten years ago, it’d have been extraordinary to see twenty nations agree to even try to harmonise policy in this way. But thanks to its right-place-right-time luck in the last 12 months, the G20 has managed to earn some cred, and all eyes seem to be on it.

And thus, in comparison to things like the freak-show last week at the UN General Assembly, the G20’s future suddenly looks filled with promise.

Obama’s stated aim of showing how the country’s “rust belt” is being transformed worked to the extent that plenty of articles were published, and there seems to be a media consensus that something significant happened in Pittsburgh (a changing of the guard, as it were, between the G7/8 and the G20). These stories are all obviously a bit contrived — but I can’t help but feel that maybe they’re onto something.