Critics of the Group of Eight (G-8) tend to focus on economic issues in challenging the format's continued relevance. Citing the decreasing share of the economic resources and clout at the group's disposal, commentators often advocate replacing it with a G-14, a G-20, or some other, more inclusive body.
Such a focus, however, neglects another important aspect of the work conducted by the G-8: Since the 1980s, the group's annual meetings have given rise to important international security initiatives, which have been sustained and further developed over time. The G-8 structure has also proven sufficiently flexible to incorporate additional partners on these and other projects on a case-by-case basis. Proposals to eliminate or transform the group need to explain how these important security functions will thrive in any alternative format.
The G-8's purpose is to promote cooperation among the world's most influential countries in response to the most important global challenges. The setting's lack of formal rules and procedures allows its members to address new issues and develop innovative policies and projects more easily than is possible in structured institutions with more complex decision-making processes.