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by Harry Wu
Minister of Health, Mexico,
2020 Model G20

It’s the last day.

The fridge in the kitchen hums quietly; if I close my eyes and concentrate, I can just hear the soft thump of my own heartbeat. My face is illuminated by my desk lights and the warm yellow glow of my laptop screen; night mode is turned on so later I could get a modicum of sleep.

At my local time, the Knovva mG20 Virtual Summit runs from 11pm until two-thirty in the morning, but it’s time well spent. It’s here that I meet fellow students and friends from all corners of the world; an ambitious uni student in Mexico; a passionate educator in Pakistan; fellow classmates in China who I might be with if I didn’t immigrate to Australia many years ago. We’re here with a mission: to determine the national budget of Mexico and to learn new things in the process.

It’s what we do for two weeks. We hold meetings and hammer out the outlines of our spending plan, debating priorities and making tough trade-offs; in a time of crisis, who and what do we most support? We research our country and our portfolio, understand the problems that it faces, and try to address them the best we can, knowing that programs flourish and fail by our ministerial allocations. We negotiate with other countries for a global, cooperative and mutually beneficial approach to tackling our problems together – launching joint telehealth initiatives to ensure the safety of seeing a doctor, supplying experimental vaccines to accelerate the Stage III Trial process, establishing exchange programs for students aiming to explore wider horizons. And two weeks later, we present everything we’ve worked for, distilled into only a few minutes of a presentation. And this is the day we present.

My fingers shake, but I haven’t had coffee; the presentations are only in a few hours. Am I prepared enough? How do I explain everything in time? My Head of State Jorge has asked us to run through everything beforehand, but I work for a bit before that, my mind scattered across the tabs of my browser.

I’m thankful to be with such talented people – people who are informed, global citizens; curious about the world; and passionate about trying to make it better. I’m grateful for the time our guest speakers have spent to present us with fascinating workshops on public health and fiscal policy, and I’m indebted to the wonderful, amicable and hardworking staff at Knovva. The mG20 Virtual Summit has been an illuminating experience for me, and while we’ve been unable to meet in person, our memories of this experience will be just as fond.

Harry Wu

Minister of Health, Mexico

17 October, 2020

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