G20 “Recover Together Recover Stronger”: Participating in the Road to Recovery Through Digital Transformation

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The recent global pandemic impacted many aspects of society ranging from personal health to the global economy. As nations continue to recover socioeconomically, Indonesia through its G20 Presidency chose the theme “Recover Together, Recover Stronger” stressing the importance of collective efforts in developing more inclusive and sustainable recovery solutions. One of the priority issues, alongside strengthening global health systems and sustainable energy, is digital transformation. The rapid digitisation of services during the pandemic has emphasised its importance as a driver of economic growth, but also requires new ways of working to ensure growth is accessible and inclusive to all. This has also been a major focus of Pulse Lab Jakarta.

Indonesia’s presidency of the G20 in 2022 coincides with the 10th anniversary of Pulse Lab Jakarta. Interestingly, the very existence of Pulse Lab Jakarta (PLJ) and the overall UN Global Pulse initiative is closely tied with G20 and relationships between Indonesia and the United Nations.

At the 2008 G20 summit, discussions between the then UN Secretary General, Ban Ki Moon, and Indonesia’s president at the time, Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, on incorporating new data sources to support policy makers led to the establishment of the UN Global Pulse Initiative, followed by the establishment of PLJ in 2012.

Under Indonesia’s current presidency, a concrete deliverable proposed in the G20 is to expand Pulse Lab Jakarta’s mandate to become an Asia Pacific regional hub. This builds on PLJ’s portfolio which already covers a range of collaborations across the Asia Pacific region, including with Grab and GIZ in Bangkok, support in the early establishment of CITRA in Sri Langka, through to ideation of a pulse lab in Samoa and analytics related to natural disasters in Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu and Fiji.

This shift is also consistent with the central theme of the upcoming G20 Summit, particularly the priority theme focusing on digital transformation that is inclusive and provides benefits for all.

Contributing Knowledge at G20, W20 and Y20

Over the last decade, PLJ has developed a wealth of knowledge on undertaking digital transformation together with Indonesia’s Ministry of National Development Planning (Bappenas) and with support from Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). PLJ was invited to share our experiences and contribute insights at G20, Women 20 (W20) and Youth 20 (Y20) events.

G20 Talks: Speaking at the Digital Economy Working Group and Hosting a Networking Dinner for the Development Working Group

The first event that PLJ contributed to was the Digital Economy Working Group side event on 22 July 2022, where we shared our experiences on Cross Border Data Flows (CBDF) and Data Free Flow with Trust (DFFT).

Following that event, PLJ together with Bappenas and UNOPS hosted a networking dinner on 9 August 2022 for the Development Working Group delegates. This dinner provided an opportunity to showcase Pulse Lab Jakarta’s transformation from its early establishment as a big data lab, to its potential progression as a regional hub working to ensure digital transformations are inclusive and sustainable. Highlighted is the need to move beyond flashy innovations to actual adoption and adaptation by users, which requires a combination of skills and knowledge in a “quintet of change” involving: (i) data science, (ii) digital innovation project management, (iii) behavioural science (iv) anticipatory analysis and (v) effective results management. Over 50 attending delegates were also invited to respond with their views and inputs on how they are progressing in the digital transformation space.

W20 Summit: Discussing Growth Barriers for Women-Led Businesses

For W20, PLJ’s Social Systems Lead, Maesy Angelina, was invited as a panellist for a session on the Landscape of Gender Lens Investing for Impact Businesses Led by Women held in Lake Toba, North Sumatra, in July 2022. Along with representatives from the national Angel Investor Network Indonesia (ANGIN), Torajamelo (a sustainable lifestyle company), the Investing in Women development program, UN Women, and McKinsey, Maesy discussed underlying issues behind the constraints women face in accessing investment for business growth. In particular, she highlighted findings from PLJ and UN Women Indonesia’s joint research on the topic, which underscores the importance of examining biases in the business growth models preferred by investors and diversifying financing options to cater to growth trajectories preferred by women entrepreneurs.

This contributed to one of the W20 summit’s main agendas focusing on “Achieving economic inclusion by supporting MSMEs owned and managed by women”. This also builds on our previous report with UN Women that shows that the pandemic significantly impacted women-owned enterprises; however, digital transformation provides a way to empower vulnerable populations, including women micro-entrepreneurs, to accelerate in post-pandemic recovery.

Discussions from the panel, along with other sessions in the summit, informed the finalisation of the W20 Communique and agenda for the G20 Ministerial Conference on Women’s Economic Empowerment in Bali, held in August 2022.

Y20 Summit: Youth Participation in Digital Transformation

Globally, there are 1.8 billion people between the ages of 10–24 and almost 90% of them live in developing countries, making them an essential group to engage with on discussions of digital transformation to drive post-pandemic recovery. PLJ’s Government Partnership Coordinator, Desi Vicianna, participated as a researcher and a Sous-Chair for the Digital Transformation Track in the Y20. She contributed to developing a white paper on Digital Transformation which discusses several challenges for youth participation in orchestrating digital governance and key issues related to digital financial awareness.

After months of online collaboration, the Y20 delegates finally met in Indonesia in July 2022 to discuss and adopt the Y20 2022 Communique. In the Digital Transformation Track, several recommendations were adopted, including the call for the G20 to adopt a ‘digital wellbeing charter’ by 2023, which outlines principles prioritising mental health, suicide prevention, child safety, consumer protection, and the provision of inclusive digital wellbeing services. The communique also highlights the importance of youth participation and priorities in digital governance and emerging financial technologies. This communique has been submitted to the government for consideration and implementation of the G20 policies.

Since its inception, PLJ has recognised the importance of the potential impact digital transformation has on society and the economy, and we have worked with various Indonesian government entities on digital transformation projects. Whilst progress has been made, the Indonesian G20 Presidency prioritising digital transformation as a theme is a clear indicator that more efforts need to be made to accelerate digital cooperation globally, and specifically in Indonesia and the Asia Pacific region. Just as the G20 theme “Recover Together, Recover Stronger” suggests, the road to inclusive digital transformation requires cohesive collaboration and support from all stakeholders, and PLJ is looking forward to further contributing to this agenda in the years to come.


Petrarca Karetji (Head), Maesy Angelina (Social Systems Lead), Desi Vicianna (Government Partnership Coordinator).

With editorial support from Andini Kamayana (Strategic Communications Consultant), Dian Lumban Toruan (UNV Communications Assistant), and Femmy Soemantri (Partnerships and Advocacy Lead).

Photo credits:

Pulse Lab Jakarta and Y20 Committee

Pulse Lab Jakarta is grateful for the generous support from the Government of Australia

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