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Millions of jobs, accelerating global economic growth and $2 trillion added to the global economy as a result? It sounds like a dream but these were the pledges of the last G-20 summit in November.
As global finance ministers and leaders from major economies meet again in Istanbul Monday, questions are being raised as to whether those lofty pledges have any chance of making progress.
Defending the lack of speed in achieving growth targets, Angel Gurria, secretary general of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) told CNBC Monday that the focus had to be on the implementation of structural reforms.
"I think the G-20 plays a critical coordination role and (the growth target) was made only a few months ago, and it involves literally dozens of decisions of each of the countries in each of these sensitive sectors – some of them have to do with education, some with innovation, some with more regulation or competition."
"We have a blueprint and we have a commitment and we have institutions like the OECD and IMF which are going to be following through and we're going to be reminding leaders today or tomorrow and throughout the process that they might be short (of their pledges) or not."
At the G-20's last summit in Brisbane in November, world leaders pledged to lift their combined economic growth by 2.1 percent – a measure the International Monetary Fund and OECD said would add more than $2 trillion and "millions of jobs" to the global economy. Despite those lofty goals, however, global growth forecasts have been revised down of late.
The IMF for one trimmed its global growth forecast for 2015-16 in January, cautioning that the boost from lower crude oil prices would be offset by dimmer economic prospects for China, Russia, the euro area, Japan and oil producers. Still, it projected the world economy would expand by 3.5 percent this year and 3.7 percent next year, picking up from 3.3 percent in 2014 but lower than its previous estimates.
Gurria said that the U.S. was the "best of the engines of growth" as the country continues a powerful run for job creation in the U.S. nonfarm payrolls. Over the past three months, job creation in the U.S. has averaged 336,000, with upward revisions for both November and December.
"It is the one that is growing faster and more substantially and the one very important one that is creating jobs – a million jobs in 3 months, that's absolutely awesome. That is obviously keeping up the rest of the world economy as it happens to be the single largest economy in the world."
Despite Gurria's confidence, criticism over the pace of reforms has come from the highest quarters. The managing director of the International Monetary Fund, Christine Lagarde, called for action over growth in a blog post Friday ahead of the G-20 meeting which started Monday and concludes on Tuesday.
"Without action, we could see the global economic supertanker continuing to be stuck in the shallow waters of sub-par growth and meager job creation," Lagarde warned on the IMF's online forum, saying that countries needed to focus on the three "I's": Implementation, Investment and Inclusive growth.
Timothy D. Adams, the president and chief executive of the Institute of International Finance, told CNBC that although the global economy was in a much better state than five years ago, new regulatory requirements to create a stronger financial system needed to be done in a "globally harmonious" way in order to galvanize investment.
"We do have better balance sheets, more capital, more liquidity and less leverage (but we just want the right calibration, we want to make sure implementation (of regulation) is done in a globally harmonious way, that we don't have fragmentation, and we want feedback in order to understand the impact of many of these regulations on markets and economic growth," he told CNBC on the sidelines on the G20 summit Monday, adding that "traditional" investors in infrastructure needed to return.
"We're focused on growth and we're ready to get back in the business of banking and back in the business of job creation and capital formation. There is something in the order of $60 trillion worth of infrastructure needs between now and 2030, let's get the insurance companies and the pension funds and the banks back in that business as soon as possible. "
CNBC's Jeff Cox and Ansuya Harjani contributed reporting to this report.