Governments around the world have restricted basic democratic rights such as freedom of assembly, stepped up state monitoring of citizens, muzzled the media with new laws and arrests, and expanded their own powers as part of their Covid-19 policy. Those making foreign and development policy must monitor this carefully. The Covid-19 pandemic is a catalyst for democracy’s demise.
COVID-19 triggered a collapse in oil prices from approximately 60 to 20 dollars per barrel between January and April 2020. Signs of a rebound are visible but prices remain well below the breakeven for many producers. If prices stay this low for long, or if they fall again after a partial rally in a relapse scenario, the world may witness a crisis within the crisis, with even further adverse effects on the world economy.
Debt relief is back. Again. The “once-in-a-generation” debt cancellation of 15 years ago has returned to the agenda as indebted countries struggle to finance their response to Covid-19. Suspending collection of debt repayments is one practical thing – among others – that rich countries can do relatively quickly to free up money for poor countries during this crisis.
The One Health approach is particularly relevant to tackle threats like COVID-19 because it links the health of humans, animals, plants and their shared environments. The current health emergency highlights the importance of these links, and offers an opportunity to place food systems at the centre of One Health actions.
European Commission published its Farm to Fork Strategy for a fair, healthy and environmentally-friendly food system, one of the Green Deal’s 11 components. In its general principles, the strategy sets an ambitious course for the transformation of the entire sector, in line with recent scientific findings modelling sustainable food systems. Achieving the drafted objectives will, however, require going a step further by making this strategy the reference framework for the implementation of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the deployment of industrial strategies in the food sector (particularly in the context of the negotiations of the post-Covid-19 crisis recovery plans) and the (re)negotiation of international trade agreements.
Because of COVID-19, many European companies are understandably focusing on their financial figures and the safety and wellbeing of their direct employees. Given the gravity of the crisis, the larger supply chain and the human rights and environmental due diligence therein risks falling off their agenda. But do these difficult times absolve companies from their due diligence responsibilities?
In fragile and conflict-affected settings, Covid-19 is increasing vulnerabilities and tensions caused by unequal access to already strained (and often inexistent) social and medical services. This is particularly true for young people – one in every four of whom live in such areas.
World Bank Group President David Malpass expects the corona crisis to result in a deeper global recession than the Great Depression of the 1930s. The pandemic will hit the world’s poorest countries even harder than industrialised nations, especially as the former have barely any fiscal leeway. Their social-security and healthcare systems are not sufficiently robust.
Both the US and China seem to see the COVID-19 crisis through the lenses of geopolitical competition. A desire to repair its international reputation and gain influence underlies China’s offer of medical equipment and sanitary know-how to countries hit by the contagion – the so-called “mask diplomacy”
The current health crisis has shown, both in its emergence and in its impacts, multifaceted and interconnected risks and vulnerabilities, both in humanitarian and social, economic and environmental terms. Most of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals are concerned, individually and above all in their indivisibility, which constitutes the core and added value of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. In the context of post-crisis reconstruction, more than ever, the implementation of this universal agenda is a necessity, particularly to reduce vulnerabilities to crises by optimising the interactions between the SDGs. This post proposes some avenues.