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At London Climate Action Week, E3G’s Ronan Palmer hosted a chat with Shahin Vallée, Hannah Ryder and Philipp Schönrock on the recovery. It was precisely one of those things that the pandemic has made possible – a conversation across continents, taking time out to reflect on what the path from crisis looks like. And yet we found ourselves reflecting mostly on missed opportunities and people left out.
The pandemic may be rapidly becoming endemic, and yet, as Shahin pointed out, we still treat it as a one-off shock, which we will be able to push into the past, and move on from. In countries where there is vaccine roll-out, there is an emergent sense of it being all over. In other countries, it feels like the worst is just beginning.
There have been strong points – EU solidarity enhanced, some global leadership from the present US administration, and some great responses from governments, with stand-out performances from some developing and emerging market economies.
But we don’t see the longer lasting support that may be needed, nor the structural shifts and concerted action. For instance the EU remains weak on addressing the challenge of digital and climate. The extractive economises of Latin America cannot be changed overnight. Spending globally has been disappointing, and austerity remains a risk, waiting around the corner. Even in the EU, the Stability & Growth Pact is just on hold – who knows when it might return in full force, and whether it will have been suitably modernised.
Vaccine justice, or the lack of it, remains critical to the future.
Hannah noted that serious faultlines in multilateral system remained the single biggest challenge. It wasn’t just a lack of finance, but of the fair and effective distribution of finance.
And yet there was an opportunity – we could see the recovery from Covid as greening us a greener and fairer future.
Philipp summarised eloquently, and humanly, two reasons the economy pre-Covid wasn’t right:
- It wasn’t creating or maintaining the capacity to maintain lifestyles
- It wasn’t addressing human dignity
So what could we do better? The panellists had some suggestions for areas to work on:
- Knowledge, based on timely data, was key to action
- Bringing private creditors back in (and not assuming they had to be on the outside) – measures like the Liquidity and Sustainability Facility could be a significant help here as would multilateral agreement on SDR reallocation
- Not to give up on the international order, but to seek to reenergise their role in the future.