2020 was dominated by a collective global crisis on an unprecedented scale, the impact of which was felt differently around the globe and in parts of society. And the Covid-19 pandemic will continue to cast its shadow this year. The fight against Covid-19 and the recovery in the economy and society are coming at the same time as several major events in international environmental and climate policy.
“What happens in the Arctic does not stay in the Arctic. It affects us all.”
The EU intends to play a pioneering role in the future, armed with a “clear and coherent Arctic policy”. If this is to succeed, the EU will need to take the lessons learned from the pandemic into account because COVID-19 has exacerbated existing inequalities and challenges in the region, particularly in terms of infrastructure and healthcare.
Many of us are hopeful for a Covid-19 vaccine in the near future to overcome a tumultuous year. But for people living in poverty in lower- and middle-income countries, the crisis is far from over. Vaccinations are potentially still years away for these countries, and many donors have significantly cut their aid budgets. This threatens to reverse hard-fought progress to both lift people out of poverty and improve opportunities for women and girls. It also puts vulnerable groups, such as people with disabilities and migrants, at risk.
On Thursday 29 of October at 16:00 pm (CET) we hosted a webinar event in cooperation with OECD on multilateral development finance in response to the COVID-19 crisis. The webinar investigated the dynamics of the Multilateral Development Finance framework in the wake of COVID-19, and made concrete recommendations on the most effective and impactful ways forward.
COVID-19 has led governments across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to take a number of measures to battle the pandemic. Many of these actions directly related to religious practices such as the cancelation of the Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, closing down mosques and amending the call to prayer from the usual “hayya alas-salah” or “come to prayer” to “salu fi buyutikum” or “pray in your homes”.
Populism has revealed one of its weaknesses, by displaying particularly ineffective crisis management. However, it is not clear that populism will be politically unsuccessful in the post-corona future. The ability of populists to mobilise supporters, to concentrate powers and to spread a narrative of the crisis aligned with their nationalist and authoritarian ideology should not be underestimated. They could show resilience by relying on a broader anti-globalist narrative, conspiracy theories and polarization.
While the 2008/2009 global economic crisis had many negative consequences, one positive effect was that it massively accelerated international cooperation on tax matters. This is the kind of impetus that we also need for tackling the Covid-19 pandemic. The focus is not on generating more revenues, but rather primarily on achieving greater equity in the way that revenues are generated. This requires more public discussion of fair taxation. After all, the way that resources are mobilised and deployed to tackle the crisis will also have an impact on state legitimacy and social cohesion.
The EU is putting forward the idea of a COVID-19 marker on aid data to track the unprecedented mobilisation of resources to tackle the crisis globally. Rather than such a marker, the EU should consider supporting more sustainable and technologically-savvy approaches to ensure much needed transparency and accountability. The EU could back a number of other initiatives that are likely to better meet information needs, strengthening data ecosystems in developing countries and improving global reporting during and beyond the ongoing crisis.
There is not a ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution to respond and recover from the current global health emergency and economic fallout resulting from COVID-19. A combination of pragmatic solutions is needed to face the debt issue and give countries room to make the policy choices and investments that will also lay foundations to recover, putting people and nature at the heart of economic growth and development.
Media coverage of the Covid-19 pandemic has raised the profile of armed groups in curious and often contradictory ways. ODI’s Centre for the Study of Armed Groups will seek to address these challenges in several ways.