‘Only at the end of a year do you know how it started.’ With this Friedrich Nietzsche quote, popular around New Year, in mind, how do we look at 2022?
We have already had a mixed start to the year. A new German Government is offering a fresh departure. Germany’s G7 Presidency in 2022 and the NATO-Russia talks point to an openness towards transregional dialogue. At the same time, attacks on democracy and freedom of expression in Hong Kong, Russia and Kazakhstan serve as a reminder of serious value and system differences that call into question a willingness to engage in dialogue and joint initiatives.
DIE’s first Current Column of 2021 provides cause for further reflection. There was talk of 2021 being a ‘super year’ in which major international environmental- and climate-policy events would coincide with efforts to combat COVID-19. The Glasgow climate talks focused not on ‘whether’, but on ‘how’ climate neutrality could be achieved, yet the resulting pledges are insufficient. There was barely any progress with biodiversity policy and COVID-19 still rages on. Looking back, we can see that, while 2021 got off to an expectant, ambitious and optimistic start, it was no ‘super year’.
2022 is set to be dominated by three global tasks: (a) the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, (b) the climate-stabilising redesign of our economic and social systems, and (c) the negotiation of a multi-polar and rule-based world order.
Access to COVID-19 vaccines and financial assistance for the economic recovery continues to differ depending on region, economic power and social group. The probability of individuals having had access to at least one vaccine dose stands at between 70% and 75% in Europe and North America, compared with 14% in Africa. New variants of the virus continue to emerge, while global cooperation remains insufficient. Helpful lessons have been learned for dealing with Omicron, including the use of vaccines, masks and social distancing to mitigate risk. However, some learning deficits are becoming clear, including the premature closure of borders, with grave consequences for sub-Saharan African economies, despite the fact that Omicron had already been detected in Europe. An ‘us-against-them’ mentality is taking precedence over a joint crisis management approach.
Read the full commentary here.
This publication first appeared on the DIE site.
Author: Anna-Katharina Hornidge (DIE).
Photo by elizabeth lies on Unsplash.
The views are those of the authors and not necessarily those of ETTG.