Munk School of Global Affairs and Public Policy

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Trinity College in the University of Toronto

Working Together for G8-G20 Partnership:
The Muskoka-Toronto Twin Summits, June 2010

John Kirton
Director, G8 Research Group
Co-director, G20 Research Group

Paper prepared for an international conference on "Partnership for Progress: From the 2010 Muskoka-Toronto Summits to the Seoul Summit," International Organizations Research Institute, State University – Higher School of Economics, Moscow, Russia, October 27-28, 2010. Version of November 6, 2010.


The Group of Eight's (G8) 36th summit in Muskoka, Canada on June 25-26, 2010, and the Group of Twenty's (G20) fourth summit in nearby Toronto on June 26-27 were each surrounded by unusually deep doubts. Many felt that with the arrival of the G20 summit, the G8 was destined to disappear, dwindle to become only a caucus group within the G20 or desperately search for a role in the diminishing development and security agenda it was assigned in an ad hoc division of labour with an expanding G20. The G20 itself also attracted skepticism that it could live up to the standout successes of its three predecessor summits in Washington, London and Pittsburgh, and transition from a crisis committee to a steering committee now that the galvanizing force of great global economic disaster on the doorstep in 2008–09 was gone. Taken together, the two summits were often treated as the global governance equivalent of the final Olympic ice hockey game, where only one team could win the single gold medal at stake. Some even regarded the twin summits as akin to a Roman gladiator fight, where one had to slay the other in an ultimate zero-sum game. Certainly the local Canadian citizens had their doubts about whether the summits were worth it, as they watched the combined costs soar to an estimated $1.2 billion, saw a few of their cherished police cars, coffee shops and storefront windows in downtown Toronto smashed and witnessed what the press proclaimed to be the largest mass arrests in Canadian history.

In the end, the doubters were disappointed. Each summit succeeded in its own right, and above all together, as the twins worked in synergistic tandem to produce more than the sum of their parts. Muskoka's G8 delivered its two signature initiatives on maternal, newborn and child health (MNCH) and the Muskoka Accountability Report, while combating the classic nuclear security threat from Iran and the human security threats from terrorism and from transcontinental drug trafficking across the Atlantic north and south. Toronto's G20 summit contained the new euro crisis that had erupted in Greece, sustained the still fragile economic recovery and helped control crises to come with a clear, credible message of stimulus now, exit soon and fiscal consolidation in the medium term, the latter backed up by specific targets and timetables for the leading G8 states. The two summits together showed at a minimum that Canada, in relative capability a low-ranked G8 member and a mid-ranked G20 one, could physically mount two successful summits in one weekend, arrange a division of labour that highlighted the acknowledged and applauded achievements of each and partner as co-chair with Korea, which could be counted on at its standalone summit in Seoul a few months later to fill many of the gaps that the June twins had left.

This hat trick of successes — from the G8, the G20 and the two together — was primarily the result of the global demand for both to work together and of the skill of their chairs in finding the formula to supply that demand. The informal, free-flowing, flexible opening lunch discussion of economics at the G8 helped forge the consensus that fuelled the large, more divided G20 to produce the macroeconomic message that quelled the European-turned-global crisis at hand. Conversely, the shortcomings arose where supplying the solution could safely be left to the G20 summit a few months later, where the co-chairs had contradictory commitments and support coalitions or where participation in the two short summits was not done in the optimum way. The disappointing results on climate change and the environment at both scenic Muskoka and steamy Toronto were left to the G20's Seoul Summit in November and the United Nations Cancun conference in December. The G8 could treat an already nuclear-armed North Korea more patiently than a soon-to-be nuclear Iran. The G20 could leave the already long process of reforming the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and building better banking regulations to the Seoul Summit, and leave reforming the UN Security Council from its 1945 formula to France in 2011 or perhaps forever, as far as the real material world was concerned.

To examine how and why Canada's twin 2010 summits worked well separately and together, and how the future G8-G20 partnership can be improved to the benefit of both, this paper first systematically compares the performance of Muskoka G8 and Toronto G20 summits, identifying the synergistic convergence that was often hidden from public view. It next explores the causes of the successes and shortcomings of each alone and both together applying the closely related but distant concert equality model of G8 governance and the systemic club model of G20 governance as analytical guides. It concludes with suggestions, on the basis of this analysis for strengthening G8-G20 partnership, to the benefit of both and the broader world, in the years ahead.

Comparing the Summits: Competition, Convergence and Combination

The most obvious points of comparison between the two June 2010 summits were their physical characteristics, notably their costs, security presence, violent protests and economic benefits for the community and country in which they were held.

The two summits were estimated to cost a combined sum of over $1 billion. This sum the host government announced as an estimate before the summits took place, in order to secure appropriate budgetary approval for the maximum possible amount. Only several months after the summit was the actual total, closer to $857 million, released. The initial sum of a headline-grabbing billion-dollar-plus attracted considerable attention, comment and criticism before, during and after the summits took place. Most of this expenditure was for the Toronto G20, as it involved many more leaders and was held in a downtown location in Canada's largest city, a venue that was more expensive to secure than the smaller, more remote G8 summit site. The Muskoka G8 was not the most expensive summit in G8 history, as that distinction lay with the 2000 Okinawa Summit and its estimated $750 million cost. The Toronto G20 was the most expensive G20 summit held, only if the event-dedicated rather than routine, built-in costs to government budgets are compared. But each summit was less expensive by being mounted together than the combined total would have been had they been held apart. Moreover, the parliamentary opposition, media commentators and mass public treated the two together, rarely noting that the combined sum was for two rather than one summit or dividing the costs in a designated portion between the two. Thus by being held together, each summit was less expensive in reality but more expensive in the appearance of the twin single event.

With regards to security, accounting for $675 million of the actual $857 million total costs known by early November 2010, both summits proved to be completely secure events, as leaders were almost completely free to conduct their business without distraction from any threats from outside on the remote streets. Here the Muskoka G8 had a perfect record, while the Toronto G20 required the leaders to pay a little attention to the violent protests outside. There were no such violent protests at Muskoka, and only one day's worth at Toronto that produced limited property damage and no serious personal physical harm. Muskoka was a completely peaceful G8 summit, unlike many in the past two decades, notably to Genoa in 2001 where a protestor attacking security forces was killed by them. The Toronto G20 demonstrations were also far more peaceful than the second G20 summit in London, where property was also damaged and an innocent civilian was killed. While the G8 won the 2010 competition in this category, the public image of property destruction and police reaction in downtown Toronto contaminated the media and public images of both events to a large degree among locals and to a very limited degree among those abroad.

In regard to the economic benefits, both summits probably performed well. This is especially the case as much of the international exposure comes into the lead-up to and long after the summit, before and after any violence at the event itself is known, visually available for broadcasting or worthy of repetition as news. Here Muskoka won again, as it was a small, relatively unknown location similar to Gleneagles in 2005 or Sea Island in 2004, was not marred by violence and had two named, normatively attractive summit successes — the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health and the Muskoka Accountability Report — to carry its name around the world indefinitely, much like the 1988 G7 summit's "Toronto Terms” on debt relief. For the 2010 G20, there were no such Toronto terms, although the favourable references to the summit's signature achievement on medium-term fiscal consolidation remained substantial several months after the event.

On the six standard dimensions for assessing the summit's policy performance, there arise the same pattern of separate and combined net success.

In regard to domestic political management, Muskoka maintained the G8's 36-year long perfect attendance record, as all of the members saw it in their domestic interest to come despite or because of political distractions at home. This included the politically hard-pressed Japanese prime minister Naoto Kan. In sharp contrast, at only its fourth summit, the G8 lost its perfect attendance record, as the leaders of Brazil and Australia chose not to come to Toronto. However as 18 of the 20 members' leaders did, maintaining an equal balance between advanced and emerging members at the event, the two no-shows did not affect the balance of the summit nor the outcomes it produced.

For host Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper, the Muskoka Summit probably provided some political benefit at home. The polls showed his public overwhelmingly approved of his central Muskoka Initiative. Support for the fiscal austerity he featured at Toronto was less strong beyond his electoral base. Taking the two summits together, by late October 2010, public approval ratings for Harper's Conservative government positioned him to win a third consecutive minority government should an election be held.

On the indicator of communiqué compliments, however, the G20 won. At the G8 Canada received none of the eight country-specific compliments issued in Muskoka's concluding communiqués. At the G20 it was one of five countries complimented, along with the United States, Japan, Turkey and Mexico, complimented. In Canada's case, it was for hosting a successful summit.

With respect to deliberation, both summits performed substantially, if at lower levels than their predecessors. The G8's written conclusions contained 7,161 words in two documents, the main declaration and a separate statement on terrorism. The G20 issued 10,683 words in two documents — the main declaration and a statement on "Principles for Innovative Financial Inclusion.” The separate statements suggested that the twins faithfully followed their prearranged division of labour, whereby the G8 would do security and development while the G20 would do economics and finance.

However, the most striking feature of the two communiqués was their synergistic overlap, with both summits dealing with the same issue areas and doing so in a mutually supportive way. This was the case for trade and investment, climate change, development, the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), corruption and even terrorism (with the G20's component being terrorist finance). Beyond the written record, the G8 devoted its opening luncheon session to a flexible and frank discussion of finance and economics, in response to the recent euro crisis, helping advance the G20's decisive public action two days later.

In regard to direction setting, each summit focused on affirming principles flowing from its respective mission. The G8 took up open democracy, individual liberty and, above all, social advance, the latter in its signature initiative on MNCH. The G20 focused on its first mission of financial stability, while extending a little to its second "Montreal Consensus” mission of making globalization work for the benefit of all. Yet both summits endorsed democratic principles — central to the G8's primary mission — with the 12 affirmations at the Toronto G20 equalling the number that the first G20 summit in Washington had produced. The G20 similarly supported the G8's mission of social advance. The dominant result was thus mutual mission reinforcement, rather than a separation of global governance purposes.

With regard to decision making, the G8 produced 73 commitments and the G20 produced 61. In both cases these were fewer than their respective predecessors. The combined total, while respectable, was also less than recent stand-alone G8 summits had produced.

Regarding delivery, Stephen Harper had boldly declared that accountability would be the "defining feature” of both summits. It was for the G8, where the Muskoka Accountability report was one of the two named signature initiatives the summit produced. It was not in the case for the G20. This was despite the need for the compliance scores of the previous two G20 summits, at +0.23 and +0.24 (on a scale of –1.00 to +1.00), were lower than those of the G8. Moreover, within the G20 compliance was higher from the G8 members than from the other ones. Where an advance on accountability was needed most, it was produced the least in June. Without such a serious internal accountability mechanism, it was likely that G20 members' compliance with their Toronto commitments by the time of the next G20 summit in Seoul in November would continue to lag that of the G8.

In regard to the development of global governance, each of the June summits made explicit reference, in a supportive, complementary fashion, to the work of the other group. More broadly, the large overlapping agenda aroused no criticism or even comment from the participants and media about its apparent contradiction of the pre-defined division of labour between the two. Most importantly, the G8's private action on finance and economics aroused no resentment on the part of G20-only members, in part because the G8 host and members kept the media focused on Muskoka's central communiqué-encoded achievements in the development and security domains. This proved that the twin, tandem summits could work well together, despite earlier arguments from the Russians that they should be separated by a decent interval in time, and from several Asian members that the G20 summit should take place before the G8 one.

In all, convergence and co-operation rather than competition prevailed between the two summits in June. Above all, the G8's informal, flexible action on finance and economics helped pave the way to the central achievement of the G20 Toronto Summit on a credible, crisis-calming macroeconomic message, with its new element of precise targets and timetables for fiscal consolidation in the medium term.

Causes of Summit Successes, Shortcomings and Synergies

The causes of this particular pattern of performance and partnership show the strengths and shortcomings of the concert equality model for explaining G8 governance, and of the closely related but distinctive systemic club model for explaining G20 governance.

The first cause, shared by both models, consists of successive shocks that show all members their equal vulnerability to old state and new non-state threats, especially by exposing the most powerful members the most vulnerable ones as well. Here the Greek-catalyzed euro crisis, coming so soon after the American and Atlantic financial crises of 2008–09, galvanized the major macroeconomic achievement of Toronto and the important opening luncheon contribution of the G8. Terrorist attacks against New York City and Detroit in the six months leading up to the summits also propelled the G8's actions on terrorism. However, the shock of the deadly attack on the Korean frigate Cheonan did not generate full G8 unity against North Korea, while the absence of a new shock from Iran or nuclear proliferation did not prevent the G8 from unifying to impose anew round of sanctions against Iran. Above all, there were no issue-specific shocks that drove Muskoka's signature achievements on MNCH and accountability. The central shock of the euro crisis did not cause such outcomes in any traceable way.

The old, state-centred economic and security shocks were significant, for inspiring both summits to act and to do so in a synergistic way. But they were by no means sufficient to explain most of the major results of the G8. Shocks were necessary and highly salient for getting the newer, larger, more diverse G20 group to act. But they were not needed for the older, smaller, more similar and like-mined G8 club's achievements in June. Their causes came from forces lower down the list.

The second cause, also shared by both models, is the failure of the old multilateral organizations from the 1940s to adequately respond to the shocks, in a world where unilateral action by a hegemon or major power had long lost its potency as well. In the case of the G20, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) did not predict or prevent the Greek-catalyzed crisis and its global contagion. Nor did the IMF have the resources to the deliver the global lifeline from Washington that the Europeans asked for in the end. Only the G20 could deliver the credible macroeconomic message — containing medium-term fiscal consolidation — that would address the root cause of the crisis and calm market as a result. For the G20, the systemic club model adds the component of G7/8 failure as a cause of G20 success. However, in June, it was G8 success, not failure, on finance and economics at Muskoka that propelled G20 success in Toronto over the next two days.

In the case of the G8, the failure of the United Nations' MDGs and the World Health Organization (WHO) in regard to the former's three health goals (4, 5, 6) caused the G8 to address and achieve the Muskoka Initiative (on MDGs 4 and 5) as its centrepiece. But here the G8 worked less as a competitor than as a partner with the relevant UN bodies such as the United Nations Children's Emergency Fund (UNICEF) before and after, as Muskoka helped drive the UN to greater achievements on MNCH at its long scheduled special summit in September in New York. Similarly the UN Security Council (UNSC) failure on Iran caused the G8 to act effectively on this issue at Muskoka, but in ways that added not only G8 and Permanent Five member Russia to the consensus but also the P5-only China to produce the legally binding, non-vetoed UNSC resolution in the end.

The third cause, again shared between the two models, is predominant, equalizing capability. It worked very well in the case of the G20, as the collectively committed financial resources of a rising, less crisis-scarred Asia and G20-only coalition were necessary to credibly rescue a crisis-afflicted Europe and a still struggling America, either through the IMF or through a smaller group. In the case of the G8 on MNCH, relatively well-off Canada took the lead in giving, with the U.S., Japan and others contributing, but less than their traditional proportional burden-sharing part, while contributions also came from Russia and other countries, such as Korea, the Netherlands and Norway, and civil society actors outside.

The fourth cause, somewhat shared between the two models, are the embedded common principles among the member states. For the G20's established and emerging economies, this is primarily the status quo principle of financial stability, which is precisely what the Toronto Summit most produced. For the G8's established powers including Russia, they are open democracy and individual liberty. These principles (unlike social advance in third place) had little direct relationship to MNCH. These primary G8 principles did, however, drive the achievement on accountability and arguably on Iran, whose leader had been condemned by G8 leaders at their previous summit for his denial of the Holocaust. More broadly, the G20's focus on financial stability was to some degree driven by a common desire to preserve, in turn, the assumed causal consequences of social stability, political stability and thus democracy in the newly democratic post–Cold War polities.

The fifth cause, still somewhat shared by the models, is political control, capital, continuity and competence. Here the political control and capital of G20 leaders was larger than the G8 only ones. The continuity in the two was more equal, especially with the absence at the G20 of the leaders of Australia and Brazil. But the big difference came on competence, where host Stephen Harper, a G8 and G20 veteran with experience and expertise in economics, guided both the G8's opening lunch and the G20 summit to their achievements in the macroeconomic field. Because many of the veteran sherpas, including the Canadian host sherpa Len Edwards, served their leaders at both the G8 and G20 summits, co-ordination and synergy between the two groups was enhanced.

The sixth cause, somewhat less shared by the two models, is constricted, controlled, participation in a G8 club and a G20 hub of a global network where cross-cutting combinations of established and emerging systemically significant countries belong. With a 36-year history, only ten members, five invited participants, no international organizations, and no ministers of finance or other ministries attending, the Muskoka G8 operated as a leaders-only club cherished by its members. Its informal, remote, rural, resort setting enhanced the informality and the sense of equality and cohesiveness of the club. One result was the leaders discussion of the G8's future and role now that the G20 summit has become a permanent part of global governance life. All members enthusiastically endorsed the continuing value of their club, save for U.S. president Barack Obama, who nonetheless seemed moved by the consensus of his colleagues to continue coming and indeed to host the G8 when America's turn arrived in 2012.

At the G20 there was much less constriction, as the 18 member leaders (without Australia and Brazil) were joined by the finance ministers of all members, five invited guests and heads of several multilateral organizations. In contrast to the free-flowing interactive discussions at Muskoka, the G20 consisted largely of leaders reading or offering set piece speeches in turn. Here the absence of the unusually direct Brazil's Lula da Silva and Australia's Kevin Rudd was felt as well. To be sure, the Toronto intervention were more focused, relevant and shorter than at previous G20 summits. Moreover, the heads of the international organizations could intervene only on the topics where their expertise was relevant; still the format allowed for little spontaneity, interchange and frankness. After four summits in two years, the 20 had become a group, but not yet a club in a social-psychological sense.

At the same time the G20 served as the hub a global network of transoceanic, plurilateral summit and ministerial institutions, where established and emerging power combinations of G20 members operated, along with many others in the global community as a whole. Such external expansiveness was accompanied at Toronto by the reduction of any internal caucuses or blocs, as the absence of Lula meant that no summit of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRICs) was held on the G20's eve. The external established-emerging equality was institutionalized for the first time in the leadership of the Toronto Summit, for which the leaders of Canada and Korea served politically if not physically as co-chairs. The two leaders had much in common, notably a commitment to open trade, as both summits' solid but hardly spectacular work on trade liberalization showed.

Taken together, these configurations of causes suggest that the G8 is a cohesive club that needs not an outside crisis but only an internal sense of collective responsibility and equality to succeed. In contrast, the G20 remains a diverse group that needed the standard financial-economic euro crisis, in the classic 1997–99 form of sovereign debt, to generate the singular success it had in the directly matched macroeconomic domain.

These causes are consistent with and may help account for some of the specific results obtained, with implications for how the summits will and should unfold in future years.

The co-chairs' differing personal commitments took a toll. Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper had declared accountability to be a "defining feature” of both the G8 and G20 summits. He succeeded where he chaired alone and was backed by most G8 members at Muskoka. But he failed at Toronto where he politically co-chaired with a less committed Korean president Lee Myung-bak, who was supported by the even less committed G20-only members. Adequate advances on accountability will thus likely not come from inside the G20 at the summits in November. They will have to be done from the outside starting now and in 2011 from a French G8 and G20 host that has rationally recognized the need at both summits it will hold.

Conversely, Lee Myung-bak has long been the green growth leader within the G20. He has been taking important action at home to curb carbon emissions, even though his country is not part of the long advanced, industrialized, heavily polluting group. In the case of Stephen Harper, who has long loved economics but has less expertise, experience and personal interest in the environment, the macroeconomic and climate change outcomes at Muskoka and Toronto were consistent with his persona, his procedural leadership as chair and the lack of enthusiasm of the most powerful members — the United States, China and India — to prioritize climate change control.

The particular choice of participants in each summit also could have had a cost. Had President Lee, already coming to Toronto for the G20 summit, been invited to Muskoka as well, he could have made a more convincing case than the only other Asian representative, Japan, about who sank the Korean Cheonan frigate and what a united G8 could have usefully done in response. At the G20 Seoul Summit on the still divided Korean peninsula in November, President Lee will be in the lead, but the G8 will not be in its prearranged summit forum. But all of its leaders will be — available for a more spontaneous gathering to discuss proximate nuclear matters, in ways reminiscent of how at the G20 Pittsburgh Summit in September 2009 U.S. president Barack Obama assembled a few G8 colleagues, excluding Russia and Canada, to send a public message to Iran.

A second apparent anomaly in participation concerns the UN Security General Ban Ki-moon. He appeared at the G20, which under the advertised division of labour, focused on finance and economics, subjects where Ban's UN-based in New York was not regarded as having the comparative advantage among multilateral organizations in the world. He was not invited to the Muskoka G8, despite its assigned and accepted responsibility for security and development, and the UN's widely acknowledged charter-based lead in these subjects, including the MDGs 4 and 5.

One cost came on climate change control, where the G8 had first pioneered effective global governance at its summit in 1979. When Ban had come to Canada just before the June 2010 summits, to meet privately with Prime Minister Harper and publicly with the Canadian people, he put climate change control as his number-one request of both groups. At Muskoka, he was unable by his absence to make such a private pitch, not just to the prime minister but also to a more empathetic group of G8 leaders as a whole. At Toronto he again spoke out forcefully on the subject. But in the larger group of 20 leaders, with heads of multilateral organizations confined to a supporting role, and too little time to deal with a long list of pressing subjects, Ban's pitch was squeezed in at the end of the summit at the end of a long lunch discussion largely devoted to trade. It was thus easily dismissed as a subject where serious G20 consensus and action were not possible at that time.

Similar observations can be made about Ban's absence at Muskoka regarding the security domain. At the 2006 St. Petersburg Summit, where Ban's predecessor Kofi Annan was present, Annan was more easily able to take the new G8 consensus on the Middle East, catalyzed by Prime Minister Harper himself, and convert it into a unanimously approved UNSC resolution within a matter of days. With Ban present at Muskoka, post-summit progress was slower and more slender on the North Korean, and even the Iranian, files.

A further consequence of the missing UN at Muskoka could come on the G8's signature initiative on MNCH, focused entirely on MDGs 4 and 5. While the UN's special summit in September did build on Muskoka's advertised $7.3 billion to reach more than $10 billion in new money mobilized, raising it to a headline-friendly $40 billion. However the actual delivery and effective use of the money to reach the goal could have benefited from having the UN there at the G8 summit start. The G8's experience at Okinawa and Genoa in giving birth to the Global Fund on HIV/AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria suggests this is the case. In Okinawa in 2000 the key figure was Gro Harlem Brundtland of the WHO — a key body in meeting MDGs 4, 5 and 6 and on chronic and noncommunicable diseases (CNCDs). The UN high-level meeting in September 2011 will be devoted to CNCDs and not the MDGs. The G8 deals overwhelmingly with infectious diseases, rather than CNCDs. The G20 at Toronto and earlier had already put healthcare costs on its agenda. CNCDs are the leading or rapidly rising health and economic burden in most G20 members, advanced, emerging and developing countries alike, confirmed by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development. This enormous economic burden will likely make it very difficult for the G20's advanced members to comply with their Toronto commitments on deficit and debt reduction by 2013 and 2016 respectively — unless the G20 acts soon to control healthcare costs. Russia, which made health comprehensively a planned presidential priority for the first G8 it hosted in 2006, plays a special role and responsibility in this regard. The G20 can start meeting this responsibility in November in Seoul and carry it subsequently to the first G20 summit it will soon host.


It is too soon to convert these observations into confident, action-oriented policy conclusions until more is known about just what Muskoka and Toronto did and did not accomplish and why they succeeded and why they fell short where they did. But at the moment, several suggestive conclusions can be drawn.

First, crisis alone is not enough for G8, G20 and G8/G20 success. To be sure, crisis — especially in the form of second and successive shocks — is the proven great galvanizer of G8 and G20 summit performance. Once again, the spring 2010 euro crisis coming so soon after the 2007–09 American-Atlantic shocks, propelled Toronto on its core function and agenda, and Muskoka at its opening lunch, to their observed and acknowledged success. But there were no such shocks on MNCH or accountability to produce these named, signature achievements of the 2010 G8. Here other factors and actors were important: a smart, responsible civil society with expertise and capacity and a smart, strategic host willing to use its prerogative of host and chair and work well with multilateral organizations, most directly with the IMF in the domain of finance.

Second, both summits need to work together at the same time and throughout the year. Together the two summits in June brought two configurations of leaders together in close proximity for just over two days. Together their achievements made the costs well worthwhile and were adequate to meet the global demand for global governance at the time. They can and should similarly work together in Seoul in mid November 2010, in France in June 2011 and in future years, should the global need arise.

Third, both summits need to work together, on the same things if need be. Since its ministerial and summit starts, the G20 has dealt regularly with development, including the MDGs and official development assistance, and with security in the hard form of fighting the financing of 9/11-like terrorism and once softer human security forms of corruption, starting with money laundering and tax havens. The Muskoka G8 dealt privately with finance and economics and publicly in its communiqués with trade and investment. Both dealt publicly with the MDGs, development more broadly, food security, Haiti, climate, corruption, health in different forms and other pressing shared concerns.

Fourth, both summits need to work together on the same things for as long as needed and as often as needed — either once a year per the G8 norm, twice a year per the initial G20 norm or even more often should the global demand arise. Because of the long scheduled G8 in Muskoka, there was also a G20 summit in nearby Toronto in late June — both needed to contain the euro crisis. This crisis was unpredicted at the start of 2010, or even before when the tandem schedule was struck, but each summit added value and worked together to shared success in quick financial crisis response.

Fifth, even two G-summits working well together are not enough to meet the great and growing demands for global governance in today's intensely globalized world. They need to work more closely with at least the major multilateral organizations and supportive civil society in several ways. One way is to invite the UN Secretary General to the G8 and G20 summit alike. Another is to catalyze signature successes, as shown by the contribution of child-centred nongovernmental organizations in the Muskoka Initiative on Maternal, Newborn and Child Health shows. On the second Muskoka initiative, on accountability, there are good grounds to conclude that a greater well-designed role for the multilateral organizations and civil society organizations in both the G8 and G20 can help convert their often impressive commitments into compliance by their members, effective solutions in the real world and the legitimacy that will flow from such extended success.

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