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Harvard, ANU, and Berkeley Profs on Indonesia G20 Priority Issues

Left to right: Vice Chancellor for Research drg. Nurtami, Ph.D and Prof. Frank Jotzo of Australia National University

The theme conveyed in Indonesia’s 2022 G20 Presidency, “Recover Together, Recover Stronger“, carries an important message: collective and inclusive effort is needed to solve problems arisen due to Covid-19. One of the events held in the International Conference on G20 hosted by Universitas Indonesia (UI) in JW Marriot on the 15-16 of June, 2022, is a session titled “Recommendation to Indonesia G20 Priority Issues” chaired by Prof. Rifat Atun, Prof, Frank Jotzo, and Prof, Glenn A. Woroch to highlight global issues on health, energy, and digital economy. Discussions revolve around the quality of healthcare worldwide, the increasing scarcity of fossil fuels, and digital gap occurring in various countries around the world. These three topics correspond to three priority issues conveyed in Indonesia’s 2022 Presidency of G20: the strengthening of global healthcare architetcure, continuous energy transition, and digital and economical transformation. These three issues serve as keys towards sustainable recovery in various sectors. Results of discussion are expected to provide insight for researchers and the Government of Indonesia towards directing Indonesia successfully throughout its 2022 Presidency.

Prof. Rifat Atun

Prof. Rifat Atun, Professor of Global Health Systems at Harvard University, is of the opinion that Covid-19 has revealed the true state of global healthcare. Lack of effectiveness and efficacy, inequality, and inadequate responsiveness have plagued healthcare systems throughout the world. Prof. Rifat provided a sample case which illustrates deficiencies in healthcare systems even before the outbreak of Covid-19: the less-than-satisfactory handling of diabetes amidst a large number of patients of the disease. Research done by the Professor on 2019 revealed that among a sample of 19,453 participants in India having diabetes, “52.5% were ‘aware’ (i.e. reported having diabetes), 40.5% ‘treated’ (had sought treatment), and 24.8% ‘controlled’ (had sought treatment and had a RBG < 200 mg/dL).

Even so, Prof. Rifat saw a silver amidst the murky clouds. The pandemic has forced and pushed countries all over the world to establish responsive and resilient healthcare systems. Resilience, therefore, is the key towards adapting in high-pressure situations. Resilient healthcare systems are sustained on the basis of international resilience. International resilience, in turn, may be achieved after a shift of narrative from funding to investment; transition from manual healthcare systems towards digital healthcare systems; and the establishment of strategic partnership towards an ecosystem of innovation.

Prof. Frank Jotzo

On energy transition: Prof. Frank Jotzo, a scholar from the ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, Australia, sees a future in renewable energy. This transition is expected to not be an easy task for big producers and exporters of fossil fuels, such as Indonesia and Australia. A system ensuring fair and transparent global cooperation is therefore needed to provide investment opportunities for such countries and thus guarantee the productivity of the international economy for several decades to come.

Transparency of economic cooperation opportunities between Indonesia, Australia, and other member states of G20 will bring forth innovation, investment from private sectors, and will facilitate regulation and policy-making. What such countries must carry out in the future is mobilisation towards investment for renewable energy, modernised heavy industry, and renewable transport systems. It is hoped that transition towards carbonless sources of energy will be affordable in the future, and see considerable investment for long-term productivity from 2020 to 2030. Dependence in renewable forms of energy will open up commercial opportunities for environmental-friendly forms of energy.

Meanwhile, Prof. Woroch, an economist from the University of California at Berkeley (USA), shared his observations on issues related to digital and economic transformation. He brought our attention to digital gap in various countries, especially those with limitations on Internet availability. This gap has been brought upon largely by three factors, namely the lack of broadband providers in homes and business, the lack of providers offering connections that meet standards (e.g. the so-called ‘minimum accepted standard’ of100/20 Mbps), and the presence of “non-adopters” who, for various reasons, choose to not purchase broadband services even where available. Whereas digital connectivity is poised to contribute wide-ranging, long-term benefits in society, such as an increase in income and employment in the economy, health, and environment.

This potential in mind, broadband infrastructure is urgently required in order to connect communities, schools, governments, businesses, and whole countries with each other The availability of digital connectivity is a precondition for the fulfillment many objectives identified in T20, especially those included as part of Task Force 2–Meaningful Digital Connectivity, Cyber Security, Empowerment. Unfortunately, progress towards this goal is marred by inequality in the access and adoption of connectivity.

It is hoped that Indonesia’s presidency of 2020 will increase the effectiveness of digital connectivity in Indonesia and throughout the world by setting universal digital connectivity in G20 member states as a priority issue to be dealt with, one that is worth striving for due to the massive impact of digital connectivity towards various modern economy sectors. A definite policy is required to close in the digital gap. Some of the steps that would comprise such a policy are, in no particular order, subsidisation of broadband adoption in less accessible regions, subsidisation of broadband adoption in less accessible regions, the adoption of broadband in low-lying areas; allocation of funds earned through tax and fees to subsidise providers and consumers; public investment in facilities, hardware, and services; enhancement of broadband database and mapping; promotion of connection providers; and the easing of regulations which hinder the distribution of digital connectivity.

This post is also available in: Indonesian