Over the past six months, as survival instinct dictates, almost every country in the world has directed its energy inside its own borders to address the triple emergency – health, social and economic – sparked by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Paradoxically, while focusing on domestic affairs is urgent in the short term, the definitive solution to this multi-faceted crisis requires us to look beyond the end of our noses because the challenges are global. We have an uncontrolled virus that is travelling without a passport, a globalised economy on the brink of ruin, a long-announced environmental debacle, and a population that is getting poorer by the minute (and that could be heading towards mass migration). In recent history, the global effect of this pandemic is comparable only to the Second World War.
Devastated by war, the world’s leading nations back then laid the foundations for a new world order, with the reconstruction of societies, reactivation of the economy and promotion of multilateral organisations as the priorities. This led to the creation of the UN, IMF, World Bank, European Union and the Organisation of American States; institutions that populist governments are now endeavouring to discredit.
However, the interdependence of economic, social, environmental and technological systems is clearer today than it was 75 years ago. The risks affect us all and produce a scale effect that calls for closer international cooperation. Are the leaders of today equal to this enormous historical responsibility?