Patricia A. O'Malley
Social Policy & Programs Consulting    ~    Community Matters
P.O. Box 97803    ~    Pittsburgh, PA  15227   ~    412-310-4886    ~
Copyright Patricia A. O'Malley    ~    All rights reserved
Established 1993

Patricia A. O'Malley

Social Policy & Programs Consulting

Training and Services for agencies working toward social and economic justice

What is the G-20 and Why is it Coming to Pittsburgh?
​​July 18, 2009



On May 28, the White House announced that the next meeting of the G-20 will take place in Pittsburgh on September 24 – 25, 2009.  That announcement surprised many, including most of Pittsburgh.

So far, the local media have spent most of their time describing the Pittsburgh and Allegheny County efforts to make the city look good on global TV.  That’s fine, but it leaves a large gap in public knowledge.  Most of the public is unfamiliar with the background and purpose of the “Gs”.

There are several groups of world leaders, in various configurations, which meet occasionally to discuss common issues.  They identify themselves with the letter G, for “group”.  The number indicates the number of nations that belong to the particular group.  The G-7, formed in 1976, includes Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, The United Kingdom, and the United States.

According to the G-20 Web Site, The G-7 established the G-20 in 1999 “ . . .to bring together major industrialized and developing economies to discuss key issues in the global economy.”  The members are the finance ministers and central bank governors of 19 countries:

JapanMexicoRussiaSaudi ArabiaSouth Africa
South KoreaTurkeyUnited KingdomUnited StatesEuropean Union

Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner and Federal Reserve Board Chair Ben Bernanke will lead the U.S. delegation.

President Obama suggested Pittsburgh for two reasons.  First, many of those attending will be in New York for UN events around the same time.  The second is Pittsburgh’s reputation for climbing out of the 1980s recession caused by the steel industry collapse.  Apparently, we’re being honored for surviving economic disaster. 

During the 80s, I worked for Hunger Action Coalition, a nonprofit agency that supplied direct services, training, organizing, and advocacy to combat hunger in Allegheny County.  We did a lot of work with United Steelworkers Union locals and officials.  I know very well how strong and resilient Western Pennsylvanians can be.  I also know that Pittsburgh didn’t “come back” from the steel collapse so much as we all adjusted to a lower standard of living.  A lot of people were missed in that particular renaissance.

Nevertheless, thousands of global government officials, media personnel, and protesters will soon join us.  City and county leaders have established the Pittsburgh G-20 Partnership to plan and prepare.  Public works crews are cleaning, fixing, painting, and planting to make Pittsburgh look good for the world stage.  It’s interesting that our fearless leaders think that the visitors deserve clean streets more than the residents do. 

This is the first of a four or five-part series on the G-20 summit.  I’ll discuss the agenda, the protests and demonstrations, and the aftermath.  I hope you’ll enjoy the package.  Meanwhile, if you’re interested, you can volunteer to help the preparations.  Go to the Partnership Web Site for details.

This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.

– Theodore Roosevelt –

For more information:
This connects you to the site for the next G-20, in November 2020.

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