A video image of giraffes bounding across the African savannah and a dramatic interpretation of the “Mad as Hell” monologue from the 1976 film “Network” greeted delegates and businessmen at the start of the Group of 20 summit in Mexico.
While much of the summit in the beach resort of Los Cabos will be dominated by the outcome of elections in Greece, host Mexico is encouraging participants to expand their minds and rethink global priorities.
“We do want to shake things up, we do want to do things differently,” Mary Robinson, the former president of Ireland, said in speech at an event today to kick off the summit, called “Rethinking the G-20.” The day-long conference of presentations by politicians, artists and academics was capped by a panel discussion led by host Felipe Calderon, the outgoing president of Mexico.
G-20 leaders from Germany’s Angela Merkel to China’s Hu Jintao begin arriving tomorrow to the beach resort of Los Cabos for two days of meetings that will dominated by Europe’s debt crisis. The June 18-19 meeting takes place amid the weakest international economy since the 2009 recession and a day after parliamentary elections in Greece.
A victory for Syriza, an anti-austerity party, may lead Greece to reneging on the terms of its bailout and become the first nation to leave the euro currency union.
Calderon told reporters earlier in the day that G-20 members must strengthen institutions to prevent spillover from Greece bringing down otherwise financially-sound nations like Spain and Italy.
He said he expects G-20 leader to agree to boost the $430 billion firewall announced in April for the International Monetary Fund so that the Washington-based lender can better shield the global economy from Europe’s debt woes.
While this is the fourth consecutive meeting at which Europe’s strains have topped the agenda, at today’s event sponsored by the Mexican government the issues ranged from transforming education and sustainable development to boosting protection for the environment.
“If we think about all of the crises the world is facing,” climate change “is certainly one of them,” Samantha Smith, the leader of WWF Global’s Climate and Energy Initiative, said in her speech. “It frightens me more than what’s going on in the euro zone.”
The conference opened with a video that lasted several minutes and featured an audio clip from the 1976 film “Network.” In it, actor Peter Finch, playing an evening news anchor, launches into an on-air tirade against everything from rising inflation to unemployment, imploring viewers to shout “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore.”
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