Indonesia’s B20 Task Force hones in on key issues at inception meeting

At the inaugural meeting of the G20’s B20 working group, world leaders and business figures met to share their perspectives on global business priorities.

The Indonesian B20 Task Force—the business-oriented working group of the G20—held its inaugural meeting in Jakarta on January 27–28, 2022. The event marked the official start of the B20 annual cycle, and served to initiate planning for the B20 Summit, due to take place on November 13–14 in Bali. McKinsey’s Gautam Kumra was invited to address this powerful audience.

The meeting offered an opportunity for world leaders and commercial frontrunners to share their perspectives and identify crucial issues affecting the global business community. Priority issues that were identified this year included the elimination of digital inequality, equitable distribution of green-economy financing, and confronting global cybercrime.

We have all the requirements to lead a new economy, natural resources related to green energy, and a demographic bonus of a young workforce.

Arsjad Rasjid, Chairman of the Indonesian Chamber of Commerce and Industry

The two-day forum was attended by more than 2,000 individuals and national delegations, including top executives from leading multinational companies and institutions. Prominent participants included President Joko Widodo of Indonesia; former British Prime Minister Tony Blair; President of COP26, Alok Sharma; US Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry; and Mari Elka Pangestu of the World Bank. The leaders of various pre-eminent companies, including Bloomberg, Alibaba, Microsoft, Ericsson, GoTo, and Saudi Aramco, were also in attendance.

Gautam Kumra reflected on how the COVID-19 pandemic has upended nearly every aspect of life—from the way people live and work, to how customers shop and buy, to how supply chains deliver goods.

Kumra went on to say that the road to recovery will be challenging. The pandemic has been bruising for economies, particularly Asia’s most vulnerable, and gender inequality is at stake. The World Bank estimates that the pandemic pushed an additional 88 million to 115 million people globally into extreme poverty in 2020, with the total rising to as many as 150 million in 2021.

Although the pandemic has caused hardship, opportunities for growth in Asia and around the world are opening. The global economic recovery is continuing, even as the pandemic resurges. The IMF predicts the global economy will grow 4.9 percent this year, with Asia rebounding by 6.4 percent.

In addition, new windows are opening for business across the region, and pre-existing trends, most notably digitization, have been given new force. “I’ve spoken with many CEOs who’ve told me stories of how digital adoption took a quantum leap in their organizations during the pandemic,” Kumra related.

According to research by the McKinsey Global Institute, companies accelerated the digitization of their customer and supply-chain interactions, and internal operations, by 3–4 years during COVID-19. The rate of increase in digital or digitally enabled products accelerated by an astonishing 7 years.

“If there’s one thing to be learned from these numbers, it’s that prioritizing innovation and harnessing digital technologies is key,” Kumra said in closing. “Not only to the global public-health response to COVID, but to unlocking postcrisis growth.”

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