Scientists are particularly exposed in the current health crisis, where governments are using their advice to consolidate their decisions. Thus summoned as experts, also by the media, they find themselves both placed in collective responsibility, as is the case with the scientific council mobilised around the French government, and exposed individually. They also constitute a reference point, to which one can refer in order to gradually build up, as a citizen, an understanding of the situation. The role of science within society and in relation to the major political decisions that have to be made is thus extremely active, in various configurations, and subject to multiple pressures.
Pandemic prevention and containment is a global public good, and its provision requires increased global coordination as well as adaptive, temporary, and coordinated decoupling. Cooperation can tackle cross-border health threats more effectively if well-known difficulties in coordination mechanisms, global governance and financing are addressed.
Is Africa defenceless in the face of the corona pandemic? This would appear to be self-evident, as even health care systems far better equipped than those of many African countries are currently on the verge of collapse. Nonetheless, such a conclusion is premature. In part, some African countries are even better prepared for pandemics than Europe and the United States. Nigeria’s success in fighting its 2014 Ebola outbreak illustrates why that is the case and what lessons wealthier countries and the development cooperation community can learn from it.
This is not to downplay the urgency of addressing the immediate impacts of the Corona crisis, but to turn towards a sustainable way forward that avoids the dead ends of apparent quick-fix solutions. Short-term economic impacts, as a result of Corona containment policies, are unavoidable. Yet, the very reason why climate action was not pushed forward hitherto was due to concerns on short-term economic impacts, notwithstanding the prospect of substantial gains in the long-run. Hence, the current disruptions should help rather than hinder policy adjustments and investments that pursue emissions reductions and a responsible use of natural resources while at the same time creating decent jobs and stimulating economic growth.
The novel coronavirus is keeping the world in suspense. Infection rates are rising exponentially in many countries. The isolated and lock-down measures taken by numerous states are having a massive impact on virtually all areas of economic and social life. They go hand in hand with a growing sense of uncertainty among the general public.
The crisis sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic has overshadowed existing migration debates in Europe, yet is inextricably linked with mobility and movement and its governance within the EU and globally. The current situation reveals the complexities of migration debates, pushing aside current, unearthing old and raising new questions.
Rising case numbers are highlighting how the coronavirus crisis is escalating, both globally and in Germany. Some people have already begun to ask themselves a delicate question: besides the medical and societal challenges brought on by the pandemic, could we also find new forms of cooperation? Might we also take a different approach to other global problems afterwards?
The Spanish flu was one of the most devastating pandemics in human history, claiming up to 50 million lives worldwide between 1918 and 1919. It has many parallels with the current coronavirus and the international community would do well to learn from such past pandemics. For every flu death back then, four people survived, but became impoverished. In order to prevent such a scenario, we need to act now to utilise and adapt social protection systems to provide rapid, non-bureaucratic assistance to people.
The human impact of the Coronavirus is widely reported but new research from the Overseas Development Institute highlights the outbreak will have a significant economic impact on the world’s poorest economies – even if they have no confirmed cases. The Overseas Development Institute have developed a Vulnerability Index, which shows Sri Lanka, Vietnam and the Philippines, followed by Kazakhstan, Cambodia, Kenya, Malaysia and Nepal are at greatest economic risk.
European public opinion seems to react quickly to perceived crises of the day, but past opinion polls show that support to international cooperation remains stable even in times of crises. Will this change in the face of the unprecedented COVID-19 crisis, which has raised questions of the effectiveness of our global governance?