Hosting a G20 summit is a formidable challenge for any host nation, and a US economic expert says it will be no different for Australia in November.

Australia is being urged to stick to its core agenda when it hosts this year’s G20, and not allow the leaders’ summit to be distracted by global crises such as the unrest in Ukraine.

Matthew Goodman, a former White House adviser who helped US presidents prepare for the G20, says Australia faces a real challenge trying to steer the summit and regain the momentum it has lost in recent years.

Australia will for the first time host the leaders of the world’s 20 richest economies in Brisbane in November, which will be a big opportunity for the Abbott government to showcase its credentials to the world.

The government will run a tight agenda focused on two broad issues – promoting private sector-led growth and building global economic resilience to deal with future market shocks.

There is also hope a global agreement to end tax loopholes enjoyed by multinational companies could finally be reached.

Mr Goodman, a senior adviser at Washington think tank CSIS, said the US supported this agenda and had “great confidence” Australia could deliver a good outcome as host.

But it would be a challenge uniting the nations under a common goal like in 2008, when G20 leaders took “extraordinary” steps to save the global economy from collapse.

“That sort of sense of purpose has faded away, and it’s much harder to get that diverse group of countries to agree on big things,” Mr Goodman told AAP on Thursday.

The trick for hosts was to get world leaders to reaffirm their commitment to the core themes of the summit, then try to hammer out steps to promote those objectives, he said.

But crises have a habit of derailing the focus of these economic summits.

The 2013 G20 meeting in Russia was dominated by the Syrian civil war, and it’s likely Ukraine will still be a focus in November, especially if Russian President Vladimir Putin is barred from the summit.

Mr Goodman said it was crucial to stay on message and focus on mutual challenges, because there would be more to deal with in the future.

“We’re going to need an organisation like this when the next crisis happens,” he said.