Indonesia kicks G20 presidency into high gear in January


President Joko Widodo accepts the G20 presidency from Italian PM Draghi at the Group of 20 (G20) Summit in Rome in October 2021. - JP

JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network): Indonesia kicks its presidency of the Group of 20 (G20) into high gear this month with a flurry of activities and events including forums for CEOs of companies from member countries where they will discuss issues from sustainable development to women’s empowerment.

The Office of the Coordinating Economic Minister, which is responsible for the scheduling and substance of Indonesia's G20 presidency, said that on Jan 27 representatives of companies from the 20 member countries and another 40 from non-member countries would begin what it called an inception meeting for Business 20 (B20).

More than 1,200 representatives from various firms are expected to join the virtual meeting that will kick off a year-long series of meetings for the business community under the aegis of the G20.

Former British prime minister Tony Blair and Singaporean geopolitical consultant Kishore Mahbubani are expected to speak at the event, as well as executives from companies like Alibaba and Microsoft.

The Indonesian government expects to hold the B20 summit alongside the G20 summit in Bali in October this year and expects marquee names like former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and SpaceX and Tesla founder Elon Musk to speak at the event.

Preceding the B20 meeting, on Jan 24 Indonesia has organised a forum for CEOs where they will discuss efforts to increase the leadership capacity of women in the business world.

Indonesia will also use its G20 presidency to showcase its development progress by launching the country's investment map on Jan 20, a side event organised by the Investment Coordinating Board (BKPM)/Investment Ministry.

Coordinating Economic Minister Airlangga Hartarto said the business-centered events would allow Indonesia to bring home concrete results from what had traditionally been tedious and drawn-out summitry.

"President Jokowi has always wanted to bring in something concrete from Indonesia's [G20] presidency, something that's real and tangible for the people and we want the meetings to focus on that," Airlangga told a press briefing late on Friday.

Airlangga also said Indonesia, learning from past experiences, would only steer G20 toward solving concrete problems like equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines and economic recovery post-pandemic.

"G20 was born out of crisis, first the 1997 Asian economic crisis and then the 2008 financial meltdown. We now have the Covid-19 crisis and in the third year we expect that we can find a common solution to turn this pandemic into an endemic situation," Airlangga said.

The senior minister said the G20 leadership would also mark significant progress for Indonesia on the global stage and that the presidency could be a stepping-stone for the country to have a more prominent role in the region, including the leadership of Asean.

"All this time we've been busy dealing with domestic affairs. Now, we're back in the limelight. Another presidency for Indonesia will only come again in 2042, so this is a rare opportunity," he said.

In his speech to kick off the G20 presidency in December, President Jokowi said the country sought to strengthen global solidarity in addressing climate change and sustainable development and to get developed countries to raise their commitments to assist developing countries.

He said the presidency would be used to strive for the aspirations and interests of developing countries in an attempt to create “a more just world order”. Specifically, the 2022 programme will primarily focus on inclusive health care, digital-based transformation and the transition to sustainable energy.

Separately, Yose Rizal Damuri, head of the economics department at the Jakarta-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS), said Indonesia ought to make Covid-19 vaccines, the digital transformation and energy transition as priorities for this year’s G20 presidency on top of the priority agendas in the finance track.

Yose said member countries needed to talk about the production and distribution of Covid-19 vaccines, which remained unequal.

For the digital transformation, the countries need to talk about data protection in the digital economy that involves cross-border interaction.

“These have reflected a very diverse interest of [not only] G20 members, [but also] other countries, including the less-developed countries that are not part of the G20,” Yose told The Jakarta Post in a phone interview on Friday.

“They are the ones that get hit significantly from the [unequal] vaccine distribution.”

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