Elliott Students Participate in Model G20 Summit

photo: five students stand in front of the Model G20 Summit Program logo
November 03, 2017

Photo credit: IDS students participating in the Model G20 Summit at American University. From left to right, Bereket Abera (MA candidate), Cecilia Franco ('MA candidate), Gracie Cook ('MA candidate), Astrid Ansah (MA candidate) and Rosemary Manu ('MA candidate).

A group of students from the Elliott School International Development Studies (IDS) program recently participated in the first-ever U.S-based intercollegiate Model G20 Summit that took place at American University’s School of International Service.

Designed to train future leaders to build a strong, sustainable, and inclusive global economy, the collegiate G20 event simulates meetings of the Group of Twenty (G20), the premier forum for international economic cooperation. According to the organizers, Model G20 helps students develop skills in multilateral negotiations, public speaking, team building strategy, and diplomacy.

For three days, student delegations researched and debated the most challenging issues of global affairs, honing their diplomatic skills. Delegates followed one of two tracks: the “Sherpa Track,” where they examined a range of political and policy issues, or the “Finance Track” where they grappled with global economic concerns.  The IDS group represented the South African delegation.

Elliott School MA candidate, Astrid Ansah, who participated in the finance track for the South African delegation, highlighted the importance of negotiation and relationship building. "Although research and speechwriting were key components of the summit, relationship building was key," Astrid says. " If you're not persistent, none of your priorities will be reflected. You have to think on your feet and think like a practitioner."

In terms of challenges, Gracie Cook (MA candidate), who took on the role of a Senior Advisor, noted the challenges that came with negotiations. "I learned that while teams may be on your side during negotiations, developing nations still have ways to go within the G20 dynamic before they will be considered as key players in final decision making, despite their importance," Gracie explained.

Following two days of workshops and meetings, delegates gathered for the culminating event: the Leaders’ Summit. At this three-hour joint session, students explored the most contentious issues. Capping the Leaders’ Summit was a simulated press conference at which each delegation shared accomplishments. The IDS group received accolades for their work in the finance track.

The model summit provided an opportunity for students to gain confidence and develop their knowledge on key areas such as climate change and international trade. "We all learned a considerable amount about the country we represented, as well as the dynamics of the G20 -- it was a rewarding experience."