(Text by G-8 Research Group - University of Toronto, http://www.g20.utoronto.ca/g20whatisit.html)
The G20 is an informal group of 19 countries and the European Union, with representatives of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. The finance ministers and central bank governors began meeting in 1999, at the suggestion of the G7 finance ministers in response to the global financial crisis of 1997-99. Since then, there has been a finance ministerial meeting every fall. On November 14-15, 2008, U.S. President George W. Bush invited the leaders of the G20 countries - creating the first ever G20 summit - to Washington DC to coordinate the global response to the aftermath of the financial crisis that had started in the United States. At that meeting, the leaders agreed to meet again. Thus, British prime minister Gordon Brown hosted the second G20 summit in London on April 1-2, 2009. This was followed by the third G20 summit hosted by U.S. president Barack Obama in Pittsburgh on September 24-25, 2009, with a fourth summit to be co-chaired by Canadian prime minister Stephen Harper and Korean president Lee Myung-bak in Toronto on June 26-27, 2010. In January 2010, at a meeting of the G20 leaders' personal representatives (sherpas) in Mexico, it was decided that after the sixth summit - scheduled for November 11-12, 2010, and hosted by Korea - the G20 leaders would begin meeting once annually, in the fall, beginning in France in 2011. Mexico will chair the G20 in 2012. To help prepare these summits, the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors continue to meet on their own, on the occasion of the spring and sometimes also the fall meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, and again in the final weeks before the summit.

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