Covid-19 has created global challenges similar to Second World War, says UAE minister

Mohammed Al Gergawi tells the World Government Summit the current generation faces a tough road ahead – but it can be done

H.E. Mohammad Al Gergawi, President of the Arab Strategy Forum, under the theme Forecasting the Next Decade 2020 - 2030.

(Photo: Reem Mohammed/The National)

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The generation that emerges from the Covid-19 pandemic will face the same challenges as those that survived the Second World War.

Mohammed Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs, said the world was unprepared for the pandemic, which created a series of challenges  that would define the next decade.

Speaking at the World Government Summit Dialogues event on Tuesday in Dubai, Mr Al Gergawi said 2020 was a turning point in the world's history and only international co-operation would help meet those challenges head-on. 

Pandemics are not new but the world was undoubtedly unprepared

“The generation that lived through this pandemic will be coming out of it similar to the one that came out of the Second World War with a set of challenges but also with new motivation," said Mr Al Gergawi.

“In the past decade we have been through a global economic crisis, a pandemic and a major shift in social interaction.

“The current generation face huge risks to their job and economic security, as well as keeping a healthy state of mind.”

The World Bank estimated that up to 150 million people across the world could be plunged into extreme poverty as a result of the pandemic.

The coronavirus has already claimed more than two million lives and wreaked havoc on economies and healthcare systems.

Mr Al Gergawi was discussing the topic of "Megatrends that will Shape the Next Decade", during a video presentation on the first day of the two-day summit, which was being held online this year owing to the pandemic.

He said 2020 proved to be a milestone year for governments across the world, with countries’ health and education sectors facing severe challenges.

“Governments that were first tested on their agility will now be tested on their ability to recover.

“Pandemics are not new but the world was undoubtedly unprepared.”

He said the pandemic was “a great equaliser” that showed people were linked to each other regardless of class or ethnicity.

It has spurred global cohesion in healthcare, education and food supplies, he said.

Mr Al Gergawi, who is also the chairman of the World Government Summit Organisation, said it was clear that millions of lives were in danger and it was essential that governments worked together to find solutions.

“Millions of lives are at risk and getting our economy back on track and getting people back into a productive job are our top priorities,” he said.

“Governments will need to take a multilevel approach to tackling multigenerational challenges in the coming decade.”

While the pandemic had been a largely bleak experience for most of the world, with borders closed and people having to adhere to strict social distancing measures, he said the last year did not come without a glimmer of hope.

“Our response to the pandemic was most effective when minds, hearts and resources were focused on overcoming those challenges for the sake of humanity,” he said.

“We developed multiple vaccines to combat this virus in less than eight months as a result of close collaboration between governments, the private sector and the scientific community.

“[This was] a bold achievement for humanity and a cause for hope and celebration.”

He said it was vital that there was a fair distribution of the vaccine to ensure a meaningful recovery.

“No one is safe until everyone is safe,” he said.

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