World Government Summit: UAE minister sets out 21 ways to usher in a bright post-Covid future

Report urges leaders to reimagine cities, repair the social fabric, empower women and prepare for a new world of multilateralism

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 World Government Summit laid down an ambitious 21-point report that could aid the global recovery from Covid-19.

The coronavirus upended the world's economies, brought international travel to a standstill and severely impacted mental health.

But the study, launched on May 5, urged leaders to seize the moment.

It cautions the climate crisis is set to intensify if governments do not adopt a thorough approach to recovery.

With great change comes great opportunity. Valuable lessons emerged over the past year, which we must heed as we recover

The report highlights that about 50 per cent of the global cost incurred by the pandemic will fall on developed economies.

Even if these countries are able to vaccinate their entire populations and developing nations succeed in vaccinating 50 per cent of theirs, the world economy could take an economic hit of up to US$3.8 trillion (AED13.96trn), with half of that cost absorbed by the wealthiest countries.

The ‘21 priorities for governments in 2021’ report came following the World Government Summit Dialogues event that was held virtually in March. And it urged leaders to reimagine cities, repair the social fabric, empower women and prepare for a new world of multilateralism.

“2020 will be remembered [...] as the year of great disruption," said Mohammad Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs – UAE and chairman of the World Government Summit Organisation.

"While the world was woefully unprepared for the velocity and voracity of the virus, 2021 needs to be the year that defines humanity’s future and reshapes societies to become stronger and more resilient," he said.

“With great change comes great opportunity. Valuable lessons emerged over the past year, which we must heed as we recover.

"The most important of those is our interconnectedness with one another and with nature. Our individual and collective actions as nations have important consequences, not only for us but for our children and the many generations to come after them – we must all be accountable to ourselves and to one another.”

The report identifies five critical areas that require the attention of the world's leaders: reimagining and reinforcing key public institutions; competing in a transformed economy; navigating a transformed geo-technical order; and, repairing the social fabric and securing the future.

“The world is clearly at a critical juncture in which we face both deep uncertainties and remarkable opportunities in many policy domains," said Rudolph Lohmeyer, partner at consultant company Kearney.

“For government leaders, the decisions made this year will have exceptionally long-term consequences. By taking anticipatory action on these 21 priorities, leaders have an opportunity to harness this transition in the service of their citizens through building societies that are more inclusive and innovative.”

The summit's dialogues event in March discussed climate change and how the pandemic was affecting the world.

David Nabarro, a special envoy on Covid-19 for the WHO, criticised an unfair balance where the rich snap up most of the vaccines. Two world-renowned scientists also described colonising Mars to escape the climate change problem on Earth as "unrealistic".

British astrophysicist Martin Rees and American astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson disagreed with SpaceX founder Elon Musk and late physicist Stephen Hawking’s idea of using Mars as a backup planet.

The next World Government Summit will take place in October.

The 21 recommendations:

Reimagining and reinforcing key public institutions:

Alleviate fiscal overhangs

Reimagine the role of cities

Transform the national portfolio of capabilities

Compete in a transformed economy

Prepare for the coming regulatory shock:

Rebalance self-sufficiency and competitiveness

Drive radical, inclusive upskilling at scale

Reinvent the task structure of the workforce

Navigate a transformed geo-technical order

Navigate the global competition for allegiance:

Prepare to navigate a reordered technology market

Build deep data alliances

Prepare for the new multilateralism

Repair the social fabric

Reactivate critical global health initiatives on enduring threats:

Heal the mental health overhang

Protect the development of our youngest minds

Restore and expand the empowerment of women

Defend the sovereignty of citizens’ minds

Secure the future

Eliminate viral breeding grounds globally:

Adapt to the grey zone

Counter criminal exploitation of the crisis

Activate whole-of-society circular resilience

Harness “warp speed” policy approaches