Lesson Learned from the G20 Indonesia

The journey of Indonesia’s G20 Presidency finally ends with the Leaders’ Declaration announced in Bali consensually agreed upon by all parties. The euphoria of Indonesia’s leadership in the past year through working and side meetings was closed with a substantial output that was often doubted. With this, at least the most fundamental and principal legacy of Indonesia’s G20 Chairmanship is the continued trust towards multilateralism and global cooperation that is very much reflected through the theme, process, and final deliverable of our leadership at the G20 level. 

Apart from the desire to drive significant economic transformation and to raise its international profile, since the beginning the pessimistic narratives of this largest economic forum have been brought up to the table, adding to the growing geopolitical friction that boosts the possibility of a systemic failure. However, apparently, all G20 countries were represented in person and without any major turbulence, signaling the political will of all G20 leaders to sit together in the midst of a challenging environment, to find the best solutions for our future economy. 

Responding to the long-sounded criticisms of the G20 forum, the leaders were committed to transforming the G20 to be better in delivering tangible, precise, swift, and necessary actions. A multilateral platform like the G20 provides us with an understanding of equality at the negotiation table, that all countries no matter the size and political influence, have the same rights to voice out their solutions. 

The key strength of Indonesia’s leadership is the ability to vocally represent the interest and aspirations of those outside the forum, a great move that should be kept up. Indonesia’s capacity to represent the voices of developing nations and emerging economies outside of the G20 was expected to drive a change, and apparently, many of the consensus points were also able to reflect the inclusivity of G20 with more emphasis on the relevance and involvement of developing nations, least-developed, and even island nations. These efforts were made to show how multilateralism required continuous refinement.

Although in reality, some major powers have more significant role to play. The presence of China and the United States at the summit brought consequential impacts in making the G20 Indonesia successful. The vibe of positive environment given to the bilateral meeting between Chinese President Xi Jinping and the U.S. President Joe Biden was resonated to the G20 forum. China was committed to having no intention to challenge or displace the United States in existing international order, and expect to manage the differences and disagreements for the sake of shared responsibility to solve global challenges. 

As the result, stable cooperation among both was able to provide a strategic advantage for Indonesia to engage all countries, to reach the consensus. Now, the big question is Russia. The previous G20 Ministerial Meetings were failed to produce a joint consensus, due to the distinct views in addressing the war in Ukraine. It is then becoming a challenge for the summit to find the common ground. 

Eventually, emphasizing that G20 is not a political forum, the G20 Summit Declaration in Bali was able to promote an essential foundation on how to respond the geopolitical tensions made by the Ukraine-Russia war. Underlining the adverse impact of Ukraine crisis to the global economy, Indonesia’s leadership has been able to accommodate the different views towards the war by driving the forum to focus on the consequences: inflation, disrupting supply chains, energy and food insecurity and financial stability risks. Fortunately, the summit was not dragged into an arena of political battle. 

More importantly, the Declaration was not only resulted in the policy outputs and commitments to lay a foundation for strong, sustainable, balanced and inclusive growth. The G20 Indonesia brought several concrete legacies including through Just Energy Transition Partnership (JTEP) accounts for $20 billion, Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment (PGII), and many other bilateral investment and development partnerships. Some recall to multilateral financing commitments to support green transition and climate change mitigation were also there. 

Some commitments might sound too ambitious and overpromised, but at least leaders have committed to strengthening their efforts to achieve a stronger recovery. Other clauses supported this agenda including several mechanisms: phasing-out inefficient fossil fuel subsidies, limiting volatility in energy prices, developing regional energy interconnectivity, promoting investment in sustainable infrastructure and industry, and producing a wide range of fiscal, market, and regulatory mechanisms to support clean energy transitions. All of these commitments were also aligned with the work of UNFCCC, the Paris Agreement, and other relevant outcomes of COP 27 recently. 

These results will not be visible without the spirit of cooperation that has been consistently driven by Indonesia’s leadership. The initiatives of President Joko Widodo and the Foreign Ministry through a series of consultation and dialogues with all G20 countries including with the conflicting parties within the G20 has successfully made a positive impact on all of us. The persistent interaction with G20 countries in the past year boosts the understanding of how strategic Indonesia’s Chairmanship is this year, and thus will not tolerate failure. 

One last observation is that our world is showing its changing landscape of geopolitical influence on Asia. Indo-Pacific nations have become more influential than a decade ago, considering the latest G20, APEC, and ASEAN Summit in the region. This has to be seen as an opportunity to bring more strategic benefits that are suited to the circumstances of our region. On many occasions, particularly in multilateral settings, somehow certain countries’ economic voices and agendas were not put as priorities, and this often results in a lack of synergy and implementation. The rising “power” of Asian countries in this decade will certainly add to the dynamics of global order. 

The Asian century is not merely a jargon, we all witness more economic opportunities in our region, in the digital, energy, and health sector. Our dynamic and fast-growing society is the capital for us to keep contributing to the process of global economic transformation. The region has always been strategic for global and multilateral economic and trade partnerships which are often influenced by great power competition, we can mention RCEP, CPTPP, BRI, and the US Indo-Pacific Economic Framework (IPEF). The question is how to navigate them. The G20 leadership of India is expected to bring more consequential efforts to reshape our global economy. It is interesting to see how India can do this despite its own way of navigating global geopolitics and geoeconomics.

[Photo by the White House]

*Noto Suoneto is the Senior Manager of B20 Indonesia and former Director for Special Projects and Institutional Relations of Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI) based in Jakarta. He is also the Secretary of China Policy Group and one of the Indonesia-Korea Young Leaders 2019. He was the Secretary of Asian Scholars and Experts Delegation to North Korea in 2018 and currently in charge of East Asian Program and Corporate Policy Brief Program under the FPCI institutional partnership department. 

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