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.
One billion people live with a disability. The International Day of Persons with Disabilities provides a key opportunity to highlight the issues they face and take stock of how the humanitarian sector can play its part in building a more inclusive post-Covid-19 world. This is an urgent challenge.
COVID-19 has changed the world and the way we live it, establishing something of a “new normal” as states and societies battle the pandemic and learn to accommodate its multidimensional effects. For Libyans’ living in the midst of conflict, normality and a new normal are difficult to determine.
Digitalisation is the use of digital technologies and digitised data in enterprises and organisations, with far-reaching implications for how work gets done and how customers engage and interact with operations. There can be no doubt that digitalisation is transforming business models, revolutionising societies and creating new revenue streams around the globe. Now, more than ever, we need to understand and harness the power of digitalisation, to further the global common good.
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 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 is affecting all of us, but to differing extents. Overstretched health care systems, curfews, unemployment and school closures are posing challenges and pushing people beyond their ability to cope. The consequences of the pandemic will be felt in both, the short and long term. However, the longer term health, economic and social impact can only be estimated at present.
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.