Improving space for civil society would be a "monumental achievement" for the G20 Summit, according to an essay by CIVICUS researcher Cathal Gilbert in Al Jazeera, It's Time for G20 Leaders to Embrace Civil Society. The G20 Summit, meeting in Hamburg, Germany, should be viewed as an opportunity to reverse the trend of closing civil society space globally, Gilbert asserts. Solving the problems at the top of the G20 agenda, such as the climate change accord, terrorist threats and the global economy, can only be done with support from nonprofits, NGOs, social movements and individual citizens, he notes.
Eight of the G20 member countries have been rated as "closed," "repressed," or "obstructed" by the CIVICUS Monitor, which rates the current state of civil society in every country in the world. Many G20 member countries "excel at attacking their critics and closing space for citizens to organise, take action and speak out on political, social, environmental and other issues," Gilbert explains. In four of the G20 countries - China, Russia, Saudi Arabia and Turkey - citizens who criticize authority or express opinions on political or social issues risk harassment, imprisonment or even death. Only meeting host Germany protects its civil society space well enough to earn an "open" ranking on the Monitor.