G20 must continue efforts to calm economic downturn

G20 in Bali is an important global episode. Amidst the cloud of wars, the economy slowing down ahead, and intermittent tribulations around the world, the leaders who convened in Bali have shown their willingness to tackle many problems on their respected table.

President Joko Widodo as the chair of G20 in the 2022 has successfully infused the aura of optimism among the leaders with the tagline "Recover Together, Recover Stronger".

It is evident in Bali where its people are badly hit by the pandemic, but they never give up. With extraordinary resiliency, they spread the good feeling vibe to the world. We are not okay, but we move ahead and keep fighting.

We just got out from — or at least now almost seeing the end — the Covid-19 pandemic with a lot of wisdom. While everything gets settled down, we must move on and apply new approaches in both developing and conserving the planet.

We do have scratches from the long-two-year calamity but must move on anyway we can. The huge challenges in managing the pandemic have been burdening many governments.

Well, we graduated fine in that test. Federico Coccolini, Enrico Cicuttin, and Camilla Cremonini (2021) suggested 10 lessons of the pandemic in the prestigious World Journal of Emergency Surgery. Two are "to defend the integrity of science" and "to abolish rhetoric and adhere to truth".

These two principles were highly upheld by Jakarta Provincial Administration while navigating through the pandemic. Mankind's very survival in the pandemic depended so much on scientific approaches.

Vaccination and upholding health protocols among the public are crucial measures. In health versus economy dichotomy, we learned that human life is precious, even more precious than economic growth.

In the rhetoric versus truth dichotomy, we believed that people deserve the truth from the authorities.

Politics sometimes make government and public policy look ridiculous in the name of popular favour, yet politicians should know the moral and ethical responsibility attached to their power.

Global community must be ready for the next pandemic situation. All governments do understand the risk of being ignorant when the pandemic strikes.

We must stay alert and take no chances in handling massive casualties. G20 has initiated the Pandemic Fund to empower fiscal capacity of many governments in dealing with pandemics in the future.

The Pandemic Fund is intended to strengthen the capacity of low- and middle-income countries to mitigate the risks of future global health threats.

The fund provides a dedicated stream of long-term financing for PPR (prevention, preparedness, and response) and address critical gaps through investments and technical support at the national, regional, and global levels.

This is perhaps the most tangible result from the top-level meetings, although some say it is not enough. Governments should perceive pandemic from the public health perspective.

It means, all countries must apply the universal health coverage (UHC) system. This, however, must precede with preventive mindset among the public in healthcare.

As such, we perceive that hospitals and health clinics are for healthy people, too. People come to the health facility for vaccination, medical check-up, nutrition advisory, and mental health consultation. This way, governments can allocate public funding more efficiently and responsibly.

Another strategic issue in G20 that emerged from the event is climate change. It was good that the issue was discussed as a side event B-20 among the world-class business people.

We encourage governments to take bold steps in reducing carbon emissions. Implementation of quick and sound public policy is possible in the climate change issue.

Jakarta can be a good lesson, because this city has been able to reduce the carbon emissions faster than the initial government plan through shifting the policy from car-oriented development to transit-oriented development.

We educate the residents to walk or use bicycles and utilize non-fossil fuel vehicles. Since then, the ridership on public transportation jumped to more than a million a day.

We employ more electric buses to reduce air pollution in the city. In January 2022, Kelly Sims Gallagher wrote in the Foreign Affairs that since the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, countries have released one and a half trillion metric tonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

The largest cumulative emissions have come from the United States, European countries, China, and Russia. Some of these countries are G20 members. Therefore, the world needs to see their commitment in solving the climate change problems.

Lessons are there to be learned. G20 may be the most capable nations on this planet to derive wisdom and to overcome global-level problems. India as the next G20 presidency will take over the leadership for dealing with potential pandemic hits and severe climate change impacts.

While the challenges are imminent, G20's mission to save humanity must never fade away. Although the club is about economy, G20 members must be aware that economy cannot grow in a vacuum.

Economy grows in a room full of complex challenges and opportunities. G20 must maintain its course of improving welfare, reducing poverty, increasing prosperity, providing health services, and tinkering with best public policies to calm the economic downturn.

From Indonesia to India, we do hope that G20 will be able to create breakthroughs in a collaborative way and take the lead to progress.

The writer is Co-Chair of C-40 (a network of mayors of nearly 100 world-leading cities) and Jakarta governor from 2017 to 2022

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