|NGOs meeting at Los Cabos to prepare for their first press conference.|
This year's G8 Summit took place at the secluded Camp David presidential retreat in the mountains of northern Maryland. The G20 Summit took place in Los Cabos, Mexico, the beach resort area at the southern tip of Baja California, where American tourists partied in clubs and frolicked on the beaches while 26 heads of state grappled with the world's most pressing problems.
Apart from the striking difference in venues, there was another huge contrast in the American and Mexican summits -- the level of transparency and the manner in which the two governments managed the process of consulting outside groups, including non-governmental organizations (NGOs), otherwise known as civil society. Guess which country had a very transparent and inclusive process, with multiple opportunities for civil society engagement, and which made used a dedicated website and a suite of social media tools, including Twitter, Facebook, You Tube and others, to share information.
If you guessed the United States, you'd be wrong. As a member of the G8/G20 Global Task Force, a group of international NGOs advocating for their issues in the two summits, I saw firsthand that the Obama Administration's management of the G8 process was none of that: