By: Romain Segouin (SDGs and Human Rights Intern at INFID)
With just over three months to go before the G20 Summit in Bali, Indonesia on 15-16 November, the Civil Society Engagement Group (C20) held the C20 Policy Dialogue on 27-28 July to strengthen the role of C20 to deliver the peoples' voices inclusively. This annual event marks the transition between several months of intense work to adopt the policy briefs for each working group, and the C20 Summit in October during which the C20 Policy Pack and C20 Communiqué will be delivered.
The C20 is the leading platform for civil society organisations to engage with governments and leaders on the priority issues of concern on the G20 agenda. This CSO's involvement requires strong advocacy based on evidence-based policy recommendations for the adoption of innovative and relevant policies that reflect the interests of the people. These recommendations from each Working Group - 7 in total and resulting from research background, meaningful exchanges and national and international consultations, are contained in a Policy Brief that is presented to the G20 Sherpas, G20 Working Groups and public during the C20 Policy Dialogue. Policy priority issues and recommendations are then compiled in the C20 Policy Pack, which marks the point of convergence between the issues put forward by both the C20 and the G20. The C20 Communiqué is a final statement of policy recommendations from C20 members to the G20 leaders.
The first day opened with a series of speeches on the important role played by the C20 within the G20 framework, given that it covers 85% of global GDP and that 19 of its members are part of the OECD. As Chair of the C20, and at the same time Executive Director of INFID, Sugeng Bahagijo raised the voices of civil society by saying that the C20 holds the solutions that are socially desirable, feasible, and drawn from the ground-up on behalf of communities, especially the poor ones from developing countries. He said that the C20 must fulfil its function of making world leaders accountable to civil society, placing vulnerable groups at the forefront of development.
These introductory remarks were later echoed by Tove Maria Ryding from the European Network on Debt and Development (EURODAD) and Nadia Daar from Oxfam International, both of whom believe that the G20 Summit must be a catalyst to address the upcoming challenges, as diverse as they are while at the same time interdependent. They believe that in this process, civil society organisations are a key stakeholder in providing solutions on how to tackle the crises together, whatever they are: humanitarian crisis, climate crisis, covid crisis. All these phenomena for which the responses and commitments at the international level do not seem sufficient or are not always accompanied by concrete actions. And who better than civil society organisations to express the views of the people on the front line of these crises.
Following this plenary talk show, the C20 Working Groups were separated into breakout rooms. These seven sessions aimed to discuss Policy Briefs and recommendations developed by each working group, including hearings and advocacy to the G20 presidential delegation.. INFID was represented through its members - Angel and Romain - in two of these Working Groups, the 'Humanitarian and SDGs' WG and the 'Environment, Climate Justice, and Energy Transition' WG.
In the SDGs&H WG, Irvan Tengku Harja presented the Policy Brief by recalling that the business-as-usual model is no longer effective. Referring to humanitarian issues, he pointed to funding, saying that the international aid is stagnant when the trend of aid needs is increasing, given the fact that only 0.39% of gross national income (GNI) should be allocated to Official Development Assistance (ODA) despite the 0.7% commitments reaffirmed in the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. On social programme issues, it was recalled that the pandemic pushed back economic performance, SDGs achievement, and increased poverty rate, accentuating the existing pressure on vulnerable populations such as the elderly, women, and children in particular - as the crisis has isolated these social groups and disrupted the education process.
On the first consideration, Jihan from Bappenas and member of the G20 'Development Working Group' (DWG), reassured on the priority given to the achievement of the 2030 Agenda and the reduction of the development gap by the DWG, which has one of its four major axes related to increasing blended financing in private finance. On the second, Jihan outlined the weak capacity and funding of Adaptive Social Protection (ASP), partly due to ineffective governance. This view was echoed by Darmawan Prasetya, who said that ASP mechanism should not only be based on needs, but also on the vulnerabilities of beneficiaries. Rita introduced the Disaster Pooling Fund (PFB) as an adequate response to social protection recommendations, to enhance the existing disaster budgeting mechanism through increased co-financing options. As representant of the Ministry of Employment and member of the G20 Employment WG (EWG), Riza, as well as Wahyu Susilo, also intervened in this panel discussion, respectively on the need for an adaptive labour protection, for example how to protect marine workers as vulnerable to climate change, as well as for migrant workers
The SDGs&H WG agreed that capacity-building for governments should be strengthened, by advancing social protection programmes, and that a flexible, multi-year aid for addressing resilience and humanitarian financial gaps should be provided. These recommendations were confirmed as relevant by the present members of the Development Working Group (DWG G20).
In the ECE WG, the priorities of the Policy Brief were highlighted through several streams by Lisa Wijayani, representative of the WG. The emphasis was first placed on the climate stream: the urgency for governments to bring the principle of climate justice to the front of climate actions, to assess the financial costs of loss and damages, and disbursing the climate finance. Indeed, without actions to meet the 2050 net-zero emissions and Paris Agreements targets on climate change, as recalled by Binny Buchori, Steering Committee of C20 Indonesia, the global economy could be 10-18% smaller. Regarding the energy stream, the issue of financing was also identified as crucial to ensure a fair and people-centered energy transition.
Among the exchanges that followed, Hapsoro from Habitat for Humanity raised the link between houses and climate change in the regions most affected by disasters. He said it is vital to rethink action by working directly with communities, to raise awareness to build more resilient housing. The environmental crisis related to waste, which Indonesia is particularly familiar with, was discussed by Fajri from Indonesian Center of Environmental Law, who believes it is important to set a target on reducing single-use plastics through incentives and disincentives to the 'big players', especially as the G20 date coincides with the first negotiations of the Global Plastic Treaty. Overall, the Working Group's recommendations emphasise the imperative to move away from seeing vulnerable and marginalised populations as victims to seeing them as actors of change. These recommendations, whether they aim at energy transition, climate justice through adaptation and mitigation measures, or the preservation of a sustainable environment through a circular economy, are based on their stories and thus call for inclusiveness, meaningful and impactful participation of these groups in the decision-making process.
The second day included a recap of the previous day's Working Group dialogues, where each representative was invited to deliver a short exchange summary, and a press conference.
Agung Prakoso from the Vaccines Access & Global Health Working Group, mentioned the need for free and equal access to health for all people without discrimination, and underlined the value of sharing knowledge and resources for vaccine manufacturing. A view shared by the G20 Health Working Group, whose representatives consider that health is a global public good and must be free of intellectual property restriction, and agreed for technology transfer.
Justin, from the Gender Equality and Disability Working Group, considered that these components must be integrated at all levels and in all sectors of governance, including policy making, budgeting, health, education, etc.
Vidya Dinker, International Coordinator from Taxation & Sustainable Financing Working Group, wanted to encourage G20 members to discuss the issue of debt and to create a UN agency on tax issues. A position supported by the G20 International Financial Architecture WG, particularly on encouraging G20 leaders to support low-income countries in tackling debt distress.
The representative of the Education, Digitalization, & Civic Space Working Group, Gita Putri Damayana, stated that digital education is still lacking and should be pushed further by the G20 members.
According to Ferdian Yazid, as representative of the Anti-corruption Working Group, the corruption reduction efforts have not yet produced satisfactory results and have to be completed by additional ambitious measures, especially in the renewable energy industry. The G20 Anti Corruption WG responded favorably to these priority issues, particularly concerning the need to regulate lobbying activities to prevent regulatory capture in the energy sector.
Finally, Ah Maftuchan, C20 Sherpa, affirmed the C20's strong support for G20 leaders to keep making intensive dialogue to related groups, in the hope to create opportunities for progressive communication and implementation in resolving the crisis experienced by society. Especially for developing countries, including the last-developed countries and small island developing states, the Indonesian G20 presidency is an important opportunity. A hope echoed by Risnawati Utami Richard as C20 Sub-Sherpa, as well as G20 Indonesia Co-Sherpa Edi Prio Pambudi, considering that the G20 is a premium innovative forum based on global issues which should providing solutions through effective cooperation and multidimensional approach to resolve the challenges experienced by the people all over the world, and that in this regard the role of civil society representatives is crucial. All agreed on the urgency to take definite action steps, not just talk. Let's see if the next few months confirm this.