INDONESIA’S G20 PRESIDENCY Between Hope and Reality

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G20 PRESIDENCY

Jakarta, IO – “Today, the world’s eye is on us. Will we manage to achieve success? Or will we add one more failure? For me, the G20 must be successful, it must not fail.” That’s the powerful remarks delivered by President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo in an opening speech of the G20 Summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Tuesday (15/11). 

Since receiving the G20 presidency baton from Italy last year, the Indonesian government has endeavored to ensure its success. Prior to the summit, a plethora of high-level meetings and dialogues were held, involving various working groups, experts and key stakeholders. 

Massive campaigns and promotions have been held throughout the country. The G20 logo and slogan is on display on public facilities and government buildings. The government also facilitated many side events, to attract visitors ahead of the summit, which includes not just government officials, but also business community, civil society, academics, think tanks, women’s groups, youth groups, labor unions, urban communities and even religious groups. 

Indonesia even adopted post-pandemic crisis recovery as the central theme of its chairmanship, encapsulated by the slogan “Recover Together, Recover Stronger” and a grand vision centered on three pillars: digital health architecture, digital transformation, and a sustainable energy transition. 

While there is great hope that significant progress can be made, there are also reasons to be skeptical. The G20 is a multilateral cooperation forum consisting of 19 major countries plus the European Union (EU). It represents more than 60 percent of the world’s population, 75 percent of global trade, and 80 percent of global GDP. Historically, it was established as a consensus-building forum among the most influential economies, to prevent the repeat of global crises like those of 1997 and 2008. 

Even though it is recognized as a premier meeting of world leaders and a forum for policy coordination especially among finance ministers and central bank governors, personal representatives of heads of state/ government (sherpas), as well as other groups, the G20 in fact has a weak institutional basis to realize the resolutions. 

Without a secretariat or implementing agencies, there is no guarantee that the agreements reached can be implemented effectively. It can even be said that there is small chance that they can be eventually realized, unless major powers, especially the United States and China, take the leadership initiative. 

This appeared to be confirmed by Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi’s statement that what Indonesia hopes to achieve from G20 summit is that major powers in the group, in particular the U.S. and China, can do more for other countries, especially developing countries. 

Indonesia seeks to use the forum to bridge developed and developing countries, especially to overcome global crises through a collaborative approach. The problem is, even though it has very noble goals, this year’s G20 summit is facing daunting challenges. 

The Russia-Ukraine war has drawn an international spotlight in the past year, compounded by heightened U.S.-China political and economic tensions, and the failure of several countries to rein in rising inflation. The question is, what are the chances that a multilateral cooperation to realize these noble goals can materialize? Will Indonesia be able to achieve the desired results?