This is a moment that is testing our very humanity. It is also a moment when, if we are not on the frontlines of this pandemic, we can take a moment to look a bit further into the distance to imagine what the world will look like in the coming weeks and months, which will help form our longer-term future.
To consider: What if this moment isn’t just one tragedy in the long history of human civilization? Not just another pandemic soon to be forgotten in the ebb and flow of our collective memory, but a defining moment for humanity, for the world? What if, in five, 10, 50 years’ time when we look back on this crisis, we see it was a turning point?
• The global economy that emerges from COVID-19 must be better-equipped to deal with such crises.
• A more resilient system will recognise that the well-being of people and the planet are interlinked.
• Recovery schemes should support sustainable growth; fossil fuels subsidies must end.
As our response to COVID-19 must be global, science-based, collaborative and holistic, so must we create a world that is also able to efficiently and effectively address the next pandemic and other global crises like the climate emergency.
People in power today must step back from the way things are currently decided and instead act on the answers to these two questions in dealing with COVID-19, and the climate emergency: What do we need to do to create a more resilient and fair system that protects the most vulnerable people? How can we move the focus of our economies away from practices that put us in exposed situations like pandemics and the climate emergency, and rather put the emphasis on the well-being of people and the planet, understanding how interconnected they are?
To kickstart a solution, we must recognize that the primary focus on short-term growth and GDP is misplaced, and instead hone in on the well-being of people and the environment. Not only is GDP an outdated way of measuring economic performance, and by default social progress, it is harmful. GDP fails to measure, and therefore can’t tell us, if our health services are functioning; if we are living within our planetary boundaries; if people are being treated equally and with respect.
To quote the editorial board of the Financial Times from 3 April: “Radical reforms – reversing the prevailing policy direction of the last four decades – will need to be put on the table. Governments will have to accept a more active role in the economy. They must see public services as investments rather than liabilities, and look for ways to make labour markets less insecure. Redistribution will again be on the agenda; the privileges of the elderly and wealthy in question. Policies until recently considered eccentric, such as basic income and wealth taxes, will have to be in the mix.”
Read full article on The World Economic Forum website and listen to the audio interview with Jennifer Morgan (Greenpeace).