Seeking a Post-Covid-19 Reset for the World
Think tanks and key leaders from around the world will meet in a massive online event this week to search for ways to reset history in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic.
On Friday 20 November, ASPI will take part in the ‘Global Town Hall’, a set of moderated discussions on foreign and security policy matters with a strong focus on the Indo-Pacific region.
It will take in the pandemic, the implications of climate change and cooperative measures that might head off disaster, and the impact of nationalism and populism, and examine the likely role of the United States under Joe Biden and in the fallout from Donald Trump’s reign.
ASPI’s executive director, Peter Jennings, spoke with Dr Dino Patti Djalal, a veteran Indonesian diplomat and the founding director of the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia think tank, which initiated the discussions.
Jennings observes that out of the Covid catastrophe has come opportunities for such discussions and it has proven easier to get key people together online than it was before the pandemic when speakers flew around the world to conferences.
‘I think it’s a great idea and in particular I’m intrigued with the idea of tracing the clock of the globe as we go around the world with different think tanks handing over to counterpart think tanks’, says Jennings.
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo will make the scene-setting keynote address.
Australian participants include Foreign Minister Marise Payne and former prime minister Kevin Rudd. The foreign ministers of Indonesia, China and Russia will speak.
Djalal says the world is facing one of the greatest crises in modern history and notes hopefully that crises usually lead to change.
‘We want to examine how we guide and work for that change to ensure that we don’t return to the world as it was but that we have a stronger and better world’, he says.
Djalal will open proceedings with a session examining how 2020 has been so different to previous years and anticipating what will happen in the next year or two.
This opportunity for a ‘great social reset’ will be discussed by Payne, former East Timorese president José Ramos-Horta, Malaysian MP Nurul Izzah Anwar and the Reverend Kyoichi Sugino, deputy secretary general of Religions for Peace, an international coalition of religions seeking an end to violence.
India’s External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar will be keynote speaker in a session on ‘The Indo-Pacific and the Covid-19 crisis: What are the next steps?’
Jennings will be a panellist with former permanent secretary in Singapore’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs Bilahari Kausikan; Professor Richard Heydarian, a non-resident fellow at Stratbase ADR Institute; and Dr Ruan Zongze, executive vice president and senior fellow at the China Institute of International Studies.
Rudd will be a panellist in a session titled ‘Geopolitical reset: Is a world of more cooperation, less rivalry possible?’ The keynote speaker for the session will be Indonesia’s Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi.
Other panellists will be former Indonesian foreign minister Marty Natalegawa and Professor Kishore Mahbubani, distinguished fellow at the National University of Singapore’s Asia Research Institute.
They’ll search for ways to build a just, equitable and harmonious global society. ‘And if there is going to be a geopolitical reset, what will it look like?’, asks Djalal. ‘What impact will Biden have as US president?’ And what happens to nationalism and populism during the time of Covid as leaders come under pressure to deliver rather than being able to play the demagogue?
Another session will examine the need to provide the people of the world with equal access to Covid-19 vaccines when they become available and, asks Djalal, ‘is that realistic, or utopia?’
The likely consequences of climate change will figure strongly. ‘I do believe that as we aim for economic rebound, it should not just be about achieving normal growth but it should be about achieving a decarbonised economy’, Djalal says.
The final session will be on ‘Welcome back, America’ with, says Djalal, ‘a big question mark’.
‘We are yet to see how President-elect Joe Biden will return America to activism and leadership, which we all hope, of course.’
For more information and to register for the Global Town Hall, click here.