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.
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?
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.
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.
The pandemic offers an opportunity to shape climate-friendly recovery packages that both boost shorter-term job creation and incomes, and generate long-term sustainability benefits. Polling shows large popular support for recovery packages to prioritise climate change.
The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered important debates about technological and industrial sovereignty in Europe. The lack of essential equipment such as respiratory devices and protective gear underscored the weaknesses of supply chains largely dependent on Chinese producers.