Governments in the Middle East and in North Africa (MENA) are tackling the pandemic in different ways, many challenged by weak social systems and growing societal frustrations. In relatively prosperous (middle-income) countries – such as Lebanon, Egypt and Iraq – leaders have used the pandemic as an excuse to suppress justified protests at their lack of accountability and failure to provide basic services. For international cooperation, which supports the functioning of legitimate, accountable governments and resilient societies, this poses a critical challenge – as the case of Lebanon currently illuminates.
The management of the coronavirus pandemic has been considerably impaired by a dearth of essential medical and pharmaceutical products. Disruptions in supply chains for healthcare goods have caused shortages and tight inventories. The reliance of many countries, particularly in Europe and Africa, on products imported from a few international suppliers is largely the result of the process of globalisation in the past decades. In conjunction with the lack of preparedness of health and civil protection systems, interdependencies in healthcare sectors, notably between Europe and Asia, made them vulnerable to a crisis affecting both exporters and importers.
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.
The lockdown period related to the Covid-19 pandemic was marked by the requirement to teleworking for those who could do so. The possibility of its large-scale development burst into the public debate. This blog post gives an overview of the associated issues, and suggests ways to explore in a broader way the possible impacts on our lifestyles of a generalisation of teleworking.
ETTG-ODI webinar event video: Africa beyond Covid-19
‘What if some African governments are doing a better job than our own of managing the coronavirus?’ (New Yorker,
The years preceding the health crisis linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, marked in particular by the oil counter-shock of 2014 and the signing of the Paris Climate Agreement of 2015, saw the emergence of (weak) signals of diversification of the activity and investment of certain oil companies—essentially the European majors—towards low-carbon energies. While these announcements could have a knock-on effect on the sector, they are still very insufficient in view of the effort required to initiate a rapid and profound transition of the sector towards decarbonisation,2 and are contested by several civil society actors.
The COVID-19 pandemic has created an additional layer of difficulty for refugees and asylum seekers, with frontline states like Greece facing unprecedented pressure in dealing simultaneously with a humanitarian crisis and the health crisis. The situation calls for EU states to speed up the reform of the Common European Asylum System (CEAS) since the current impasse is exacerbating the life conditions of thousands of refugees and asylum seekers.
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.
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.