The Jakarta Post
Dozens of prominent policymakers and public figures, including state officials and vaccine makers from around the world, are set to discuss international cooperation on social, political and economic development amid the COVID-19 pandemic in an annual forum organized by the Foreign Policy Community of Indonesia (FPCI).
The Global Town Hall conference, due to be held virtually on Friday with the theme “Rebuilding from the COVID-19 World”, is to play out as a 15-hour marathon of webinars divided into individual panel discussions that cover a wide range of topics – all centered around the question of how the world will adapt to the changes brought about by the pandemic.
Former deputy foreign minister and FPCI cofounder Dino Patti Djalal said during a pre-event briefing on Thursday that the conference was the result of a collaboration between 18 leading think tanks from around the world, which include the Paris Peace Forum from France and the United States’ Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and World Resources Institute (WRI).
“The forum seeks to identify the major global trends in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, including ones related to public health, international relations, geopolitical research, the ‘vaccine for all’ concept, economic recession and climate change,” said Dino, who himself has recovered from COVID-19 symptoms after testing positive for the disease earlier this year.
He went on to say that a major talking point in the conference would be the prickly notion of “vaccine nationalism”, or how the current geopolitical dynamics could potentially hinder humanitarian efforts to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to as many countries as possible.
“For instance, I am still doubtful that the US will distribute vaccines to Iran considering their current relations,” he said, referencing the animosity between the two countries following the US’ assassination of Iranian general Qasem Soleimani in January.
Among the key speakers in the town hall conference are President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi, World Health Organization (WHO) director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Australian Foreign Minister Marise Payne and Malaysia’s former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq.
The president director of Chinese vaccine maker Sinovac, as well as experts involved in the development of Russia’s Sputnik V vaccine, are also due to serve as panelists in the star-studded international forum.
“The conference is an opportunity to conduct major social research,” Dino said.
“We hope [the discussions] will act as a starting point for international policy-making as the world continues to adapt to the challenges posed by the pandemic.”
Since 2015 FPCI has annually convened the Conference on Foreign Policy, the largest civil society-led foreign policy gathering of its kind in the world.
As a result of the ongoing pandemic, this year’s event was rebranded as the Global Town Hall conference.