Volume 44, Number 175,
October-December 2013
The G20 in Los Cabos:
A Lost Opportunity for Much-Needed Change
Carlos Rozo and Aleida Azamar

In light of the fact that agricultural production in industrial countries must increase by between 50% and 70% in industrialized nations and 100% in developing countries, a commitment was taken on in Los Cabos to promote the growth of agricultural production and reduce the gaps among production units. The challenge in achieving this goal is that problems in the field are related not only to the quantities produced but also to the availability of resources and the need to invest in technology and innovation. In the current circumstances, agriculture consumes 70% of the world’s fresh water and uses 34.3% of available land surface, as calculate by the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture. To produce more food, products must undergo genetic improvements.

To meet these needs and achieve global food security, Mexican authorities proposed a “new paradigm” to produce food through a strategy of cooperation among small production units supported by large public-private investment projects that would help to broaden access to facilities for agricultural inputs and promote more efficient use of resources to improve the productivity of small producers, making them more competitive on the national and international stage. Another proposal was to increase investment in agricultural research and development.

This option, of achieving “food security” through sustainable agriculture among small producers, is certainly a surprising proposal from a government that has systematically dismantled small-scale agricultural production. Even more contradictory is the fact that the Mexican government has fostered the production of genetically modified foods while also proposing an international program for the sustainable modernization of traditional agriculture.

Nor is it understandable that a government so concerned with stability failed to take advantage of acting as chair of the G20 to put the issue of price speculation on raw materials, foods and agricultural reserves up for negotiation. India is perhaps the best example to emulate in terms of achieving food security. The nation is currently self-sufficient and an exporter of food, despite the fact that 40 years ago, it imported food. Its main challenge has been guaranteeing food to all of its inhabitants. Because 70% of its population lives in rural zones, the government has spent more than 20 billion dollars annually on programs to develop infrastructure in the field to achieve food security both on the country and family levels. The food produced will be able to reach everyone, because they have the means of delivery in place.

Undoubtedly, food production must be a priority for the G20, because a drought in Russia, Australia or Argentina would destabilize the entire world. The G20 must therefore strengthen its strategy to improve productivity and reduce price volatility through green growth.


The main way in which Mexican authorities contributed to the G20 is by creating space for cooperation with private initiatives and making these more relevant. According to then Secretary of the Economy Bruno Ferrari, introducing the business element was a new perspective for these meetings, by taking the economic issues outside of the political realm to approach it from a more "practical point of view, the way businessmen view it, for decision-making. This was important and was different from anything that had ever been done before." This approach emphasizes the style that permeates the entire final declaration regarding the central role of markets in resolving the problems that have yet to find a solution over the past five years. What they fail to highlight is the fact that the markets created the problems in the first place, while they have done little to contributing to a solution (Medialdea et al., 2012).

Businessmen gathered at the B20 (see: B2012, 2012) introduced recommendations on green growth, information technologies and innovation, food security, investment and trade, employment, fighting corruption and financing growth and development. But their main contribution, which the Mexican government considers to be their legacy of the G20, was to propose and form an "impact and follow-up group" whose objective is to: “ensure that the recommendations are spread to all countries, follow-up on their application and provide continuity to the work of each group and the topics discussed from one summit to the next.”


Despite efforts from Felipe Calderón’s government to leave its mark in solving the Great Recession, the final results were no more or less relevant than those of other summits since 2010. It could not accurately be said that Mexico lost its chance to redirect the objectives of the group towards greater benefits for developing countries, because this was simply never the purpose for which Mexico strived. Its objective was not to find a new normal, but rather to restore the old normal, the situation that brought the world to crisis, where peripheral countries continue to be subordinated to central economies. The National Intelligence Council intuits that this is no longer possible and that an inexorable change to geopolitics is needed.

To recover the initial relevance of the G20 following the Washington Summit in 2008, the work agenda must turn its focus to designing a new economic reality based on a more secure financial system oriented towards meeting the financial needs of the real sector and contributing to food security, with a logic of sustainable green growth that improves productivity and increases investment to create jobs. Green and sustainable growth will not happen without reversing the social inequalities so characteristic of the modern age in all countries. The gap between the rich and the poor in oecd countries is higher than it has been in three decades. According to the 2011 World Ultra Wealth Report, the ultra-wealthy, or those with more than 30 million dollars, account for nearly half of the global gdp, despite only making up 0.002% of the population.

The hunger of thousands of people will not be resolved by merely increasing resource efficiency and rationalizing energy use, although these objectives are also necessary. What the world needs now from the G20 is concerted action to create a more fair and solidary social fabric that contributes to reducing income and wealth inequality as the problem at the heart of development. An objective of this nature means transitioning to a new institutionality of the globalized economy rather than perpetuating greater globalization of the existing institutionality.

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PROBLEMAS DEL DESARROLLO. REVISTA LATINOAMERICANA DE ECONOMÍA, Volume 49, Number 195 October-December 2018 is a quarterly publication by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán, CP 04510, México, D.F. by Instituto de Investigaciones Económicas, Circuito Mario de la Cueva, Ciudad Universitaria, Coyoacán,
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