September 21, 2022
JAKARTA – President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was one of five figures to receive the distinguished Global Citizen Award, an honor that recognizes world-renowned figures who embody the notion of global citizenship.
Foreign Minister Retno LP Marsudi accepted the award on behalf of the President at a gala dinner event at Cipriani Hall in New York, the United States, on Monday, hosted annually by the Atlantic Council think tank during the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) week.
In her acceptance speech, Retno relayed the President’s wish to find a new “paradigm of collaboration” in order to build a peaceful, fair and prosperous world.
She said Indonesia would be “at the forefront of advocating this paradigm”, setting out the nation’s multilateral agenda for the year ahead, starting with this year’s UNGA.
“In a world where pessimism abounds, Indonesia wants to inspire hope and confidence. In a world that is divided, Indonesia strives to become a bridge builder. In a world full of challenges, Indonesia is determined to be part of the solution,” she said.
In his own prerecorded acceptance speech, Jokowi thanked the Atlantic Council and said that the government would utilize Indonesia’s position as Group of 20 president to pursue what it considers to be global priority agendas, namely developing a resilient global health architecture, and inclusive and sustainable economic growth.
“This Global Citizen Award is important for me. But, what is more important is a peaceful, fair and prosperous world,” the President said.
While he has grown confident in his role as a global leader over the course of his presidency, Jokowi has yet to attend the UNGA – the premier multilateral forum for global cooperation – in person.
He has nonetheless been recognized by the think tank for his leadership role at the G20, said World Economic Forum executive chairman Klaus Schwab, who presented the award for Jokowi at the Global Citizen Awards event.
“The G20 meeting in November provides the world with possibly the last opportunity to demonstrate that ultimately we are all part of a common human density,” Schwab said.
“Mr. President, with your humble, visionary and peace-pursuing leadership, we are in its best hands.”
As the leader of Indonesia’s G20 presidency, Jokowi has promoted global cooperation over geopolitical division following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February.
Resisting pressure from the West to isolate and condemn Russia, the President chose to keep all communication lines open and promote a global recovery agenda using the G20 presidency as his vehicle.
He also became the first Asian leader to visit the Ukrainian capital Kyiv in the midst of war, which he immediately followed up with a visit to Moscow to help spread the message of ending a needless conflict.
The Indonesian leader joins the ranks of Finnish President Sauli Niinistö, Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai and Academy Award-winning American actor Forest Whitaker as this year’s honorees. Special tributes were also given to the late Shinzo Abe, former prime minister of Japan, as well as the late British monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.
Whitaker, founder and CEO of the Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative as well as UNESCO special envoy for peace and reconciliation, is known for his work in empowering the next generation of peace-builders.
He explained that peace is more than “simply the absence of violence”, recounting an encounter with an aid worker in Uganda who had just helped a former child soldier return to his family.
“Peace must be something that we build every day, together,” he said.
The Global Citizen Award was previously given to leaders such as Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte but also pop sensation and philanthropist will.i.am, as well as other luminaries.
First day of business
The Global Citizen Awards gala dinner caps Minister Retno’s first full day of activities in New York ahead of the UNGA high-level week. On Monday, Retno held several bilateral and multilateral meetings, including with UN undersecretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator (UN OCHA), Martin Griffiths.
With Griffiths, the minister followed up her conversation with UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Sunday, where the focus was mostly on the handling of the food crisis that emerged out of the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“As we know, there are still obstacles to food [exports out of Ukraine and Russia]. The ones that are most affected by this situation are developing countries,” Retno told reporters on the margins of her meetings in New York.
Indonesia has been engaging with various partners after being selected by the UN secretary-general to become a UN Champions group member of the Global Crisis Response Group (GCRG), which has placed food security among its main concerns – even before the war erupted.
Soaring global grain prices have triggered a major food crisis that has been exacerbated by Russia’s invasion of major grain producer Ukraine. As part of mitigation efforts, several countries and international organizations are to cochair a summit on food security at the UN on Tuesday.
The minister also noted how members of the Group of Seven industrialized nations had offered reassurances that agrifood and fertilizer shipments out of Ukraine were excluded from sanctions imposed on Moscow to help alleviate “overcompliance” – that is, when countries are overly cautious so it impedes commerce.
With Griffiths, Minister Retno also broached the topic of Myanmar and the access and delivery of humanitarian aid. The UN OCHA coordinator is slated to visit Myanmar next week, before heading to Jakarta for round two of talks with the Indonesian minister.