Nadiem Makarim, Indonesia's Education Minister at the B20 Nadiem Makarim, Indonesia's Education Minister at the B20 

Education and desire for peace highlighted at pre-G20 meetings

In the Business 20 – a forum held on the sidelines of the G20 summit – leaders of the business world, including American economist Jeffery Sachs, highlight the importance of prioritizing education as one of the means of building better societies.

By Benedict Mayaki, SJ - Bali, Indonesia

The 2022 G20 summit is the 17th meeting of the Group of Twenty - a summit scheduled to take place in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia on 15–16 November 2022.

Ahead of the event, the G20 presidency has put together various side events, one of which is the B20 (or the Business 20) – a dialogue forum with the global business community which aims to deliver concrete actionable policy recommendations on priorities to spur economic growth and development.

This year’s B20 Summit (13 -14 November) embraced the theme of "Advancing Innovative, Inclusive and Collaborative Growth" in support of the G20 theme: "Recover Together, Recover Stronger", inspired by a desire to jointly shape policies for post-pandemic recovery.

On Monday morning, a B20 session that took place on "Kura Kura" Island - one of the thousands that Indonesia has - saw the presence of several dignitaries, students and people from the business world gathered to discuss around the theme: “Future knowledge and blended finance.”

Mr. Nadiem Makarim, the Indonesian Minister of Education, offered the first intervention, stressing the importance of education. He highlighted his ministry’s initiative of unbundling the educational curriculum of the country to allow educational institutions from all over the world to become part of the Indonesian educational system for a semester.

Shared responsibility to save climate and end wars

Next up was Mr. Jeffrey Sachs, the president of the UN sustainable development solutions network, who insisted that finance has to be in harmony with human values, religion and with the environment. 

Speaking to Vatican News, the American-born economist said the G20 countries have the "responsibility to help solve the problems of climate change and to help end wars." Business leaders from those nations, he added, want to do their part to solve these global problems.

"All of these conflicts are the biggest obstacle that we face," he said. "That's why Pope Francis is all the time saying we need a negotiated end to this war. We need the fighting to stop."

Mr. Sachs also underlined the importance of values, some that are present in the Indonesian culture and which can help improve society.

"Bali has a philosophy called Tri Hita Karana, which means 'harmony' with people, nature, and God," he noted, adding that this coincides with the Pope's efforts to promote peace and dialogue, as with his encyclical Fratelli tutti

“We need peace. Above all, we need this war in Ukraine to end with the parties at the negotiating table, not victory by military... Then this will make it safer for everybody and allow us to focus on the real issues for a better future for everybody.”

Elon Musk joined the B20 event via video link
Elon Musk joined the B20 event via video link

Learning critical thinking skills

The B20 summit on Monday included an interactive session between Mr. Makarim and Elon Musk, the founder and CEO of Tesla, who joined the event via video call. The Indonesian minister asked the tech entrepreneur some prepared questions and Mr. Musk responded to the participants of the event.

Mr. Musk stressed the importance of establishing the relevance of what we learn instead of just learning as a mental obstacle course. He said that critical thinking must be taught early in education as it helps to create some sort of “firewall” against false concepts.

He encouraged young people to take up careers in sustainable energy, Artificial Intelligence and synthetic biology, which he says will be relevant in the future as medicine becomes more digitalized.

When asked about his attitude in the face of mistakes, Mr. Musk encouraged everyone to “aspire to be less wrong over time” and to seek critical feedback in their search for knowledge.

He also held up physics as an important aspect of his personal experience, inviting people to go back to the principles as “physics is the law and everything else is a recommendation.”

In response to another question asked about his daily habits that made him what he is, Mr. Musk invited everyone to have a sense of obsessive curiosity and adventure and never to allow their fears be blown out of proportion.

14 November 2022, 14:35