world economic forum
MIT Technology review
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global, multilateral and EU-related measures to tackle COVID-19 and its consequences
About multilateral RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
LAST UPDATED 21 July
McKinsey & Company | COVID-19 crisis shifts cybersecurity priorities and budgets
Few corporate functions shifted priorities so much and so quickly when the COVID-19 crisis struck as corporate cybersecurity operations and the technology providers that support them did. As legions of employees suddenly found themselves in a work-from-home model, chief information-security officers (CISOs) adjusted, pivoting from working on routine tasks and toward long-term goals to establishing secure connections for newly minted remote workforces. CISOs also took steps to prevent new network threats that target remote workers and to bolster business-facing operations and e-commerce after a surge in online shopping during pandemic lockdowns.
Many CISOs’ fiscal 2020 budgets had already been allocated before the pandemic, so to cover the cost of addressing the crisis, they had to put other projects on hold. According to our research, which covers more than 250 global CISOs and security professionals, the crisis-inspired security measures will remain top budget priorities in the third and fourth quarters of 2020.
In the short term, we expect CISOs to continue to prioritize situations related to remote work and business continuity. But eventually, we expect the emergence of a phase of hybrid activity—one in which CISOs both take care of their immediate needs and begin to resume limited support for longer-term or strategic cybersecurity imperatives.
Visegrad Group | Coronavirus vaccine made in Czechia to be filled in Germany
The vaccine developed by the U.S. Novavax company, which bought a manufacturing plant in Kostelec nad Cernymi lesy near Prague for it, will not be filled in Czechia, but in Germany, epidemiologist Roman Prymula told public Czech Television on Sunday. The individual doses of the vaccine will be filled in Germany, where a boosting component developed in Sweden will be added to the Czech basis of the vaccine.
World Trade Organization | DG Azevêdo: “Decisions made at the WTO will matter” for economic recovery from COVID-19 crisis
Addressing heads of WTO member delegations for the last time as Chair of the Trade Negotiations Committee, Director-General Roberto Azevêdo emphasized that “keeping markets broadly open to trade” would help build “a post-COVID economic recovery that is strong, sustainable and inclusive”. He told the 20 July meeting that members’ policy choices, including at the WTO, would play an important role in laying the groundwork for a return to growth and job creation.
The existing WTO rulebook continues to provide “a vital anchor of predictability and certainty in the global economy,” DG Azevêdo said. Nevertheless, like all international organizations, the WTO must adapt to changing economic and geopolitical circumstances. “Reform is a permanent task for the WTO – but it is a process that will be built by specific negotiated decisions,” he said.
African Development Bank | Africa Investment Forum: Founding Partners unveil Unified COVID-19 Response to support Africa’s private sector
Increased and decisive investment will be the channel for Africa’s economic recovery post COVID-19, partners of the Africa Investment Forum said on Friday, expressing confidence in the continent’s potential to rebound from the ongoing health and economic crises.
During the meeting, the Africa Investment Forum revealed 15 projects identified across five sectors for priority funding consideration under its Unified COVID-19 Response. The sectors include Agriculture & Agro-Processing, Energy, Health, ICT & Telecoms and Industrial & Trade. Collectively, these 15 deals which are from the Forum’s current portfolio, amount to $3.79 billion and will help increase the continent’s self-sufficiency and resilience against future shocks. Four projects sponsors were invited to pitch their deals to over 100 investors present at the meeting. These include a Dairy processing project in Angola, a vaccine manufacturing plant in Kenya, a cotton manufacturing project in Mozambique and a proprietary telemedicine platform in Nigeria.
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe | North Macedonia’s early parliamentary elections well managed despite pandemic but legal instability remains a concern, international observers say
The early parliamentary elections in North Macedonia were generally well run and candidates could campaign freely, but legal stability was undermined by significant revisions to the legal framework and subsequent government decrees, international observers from the OSCE Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights (ODIHR) said in a statement today.
Some 1.8 million people were eligible to vote in yesterday’s early parliamentary elections, which were postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The election administration completed its work within all the legal deadlines, despite complications caused after the electoral process was suspended. Election day itself went smoothly despite some technical challenges with the reporting of results.
International Labour Organization | ILO Global Summit builds commitment to create better world of work after COVID-19
The Director-General of the International Labour Organization (ILO), Guy Ryder, has welcomed the commitment and determination of world leaders to build a better world of work as a core element of recovery from the COVID-19 crisis.
Heads of State and government, as well as prominent global employers’ and trade union leaders, took part in the three day global event, held online from 7-9 July. The Summit was the largest ever online gathering of workers, employers and governments with contributions from heads of the UN, WHO, IMF, WTO and the OECD.
The Summit discussed strategies for addressing the massive world-of-work vulnerabilities exposed by the pandemic and in particular, the needs of those working without social protection and in the informal economy; the promotion of full and productive employment and sustainable enterprises; ways of ensuring that poverty reduction, equality and combating climate change are core elements in the recovery process; and how the international community can recommit to delivering on the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
World Trade Organization | WTO, ICC and B20 call for action to narrow the growing trade finance gap
The WTO, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) and B20 Saudi Arabia issued a joint statement on 9 July pointing to the diminishing availability of trade finance. Warning that gaps between trade finance supply and demand could seriously impede the ability of trade to support post COVID-19 economic recovery, they are urging private and public-sector actors to work together to address shortages.
The joint call for action, which highlights the importance of cross-border trade in driving economic recovery from the downturn caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, has its origins in a WTO Trade Dialogues meeting with the private sector in May, where concerns about trade finance featured prominently.
The WTO, the ICC and B20 Saudi Arabia also welcomed the measures taken to stabilize trade finance markets. They urged the private and public sectors to work together to bring about a rapid transition to paperless trading, including e-documents in the processing of trade finance transactions. In addition, the statement called for an exchange of views on how regulatory authorities can help ease constraints on the provision of trade finance. It also proposed increased risk sharing to support trade finance and the extension of development bank schemes to provide risk mitigation.
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe | In discussions with EU officials, OSCE parliamentarians focus on enhancing migration co-operation during pandemic
Meeting virtually with officials of the European Union, members of the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s Ad Hoc Committee on Migration have focused in recent days on the situation of vulnerable migrants, new asylum procedures in Europe, and providing assistance to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 amongst migrant and refugee populations.
[Paraskevi] Michou mentioned the importance of renewing UN Security Council Resolution 2504, which ensures that lifesaving UN aid reaches over four million Syrians and is set to expire on 10 July.
Discussions also focused on the situation on the Greek islands. Michou discussed working closely with EU member states to relieve the burden, with 17 countries supporting Greece with protective equipment. Syria remains the largest forced displacement crisis in the world, she said, with millions of displaced people who are food insecure – a situation more precarious now due to COVID-19.
Islamic Development Bank | Showcasing Malaysia’s Replicable Solutions on Supporting MSMEs through COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond
The Islamic Development Bank (IsDB) Group Center of Excellence in Kuala Lumpur, in partnership with the United Nations Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), SME Corporation Malaysia (SME Corp), the Investment Account Platform (IAP), and the International Centre for Education in Islamic Finance (INCEIF) has hosted a webinar on “Showcasing Malaysia’s Replicable Solutions on Supporting MSMEs through COVID-19 Crisis and Beyond” today, 7th of July 2020.
While praising Malaysia for the long-standing partnership with IsDB Group particularly on sharing development knowledge and expertise with other Member Countries, Dr. Mansur Muhtar highlighted the extensive focus on supporting MSMEs in IsDB Group development programs, particularly the Bank’s Strategic Response & Preparedness Program (SPRP) for COVID-19 which takes a holistic three track approach known as 3Rs (Response, Restore and Restart).
“Supporting micro small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) is a key component of our response program especially under the ‘restore’ track, which is spearheaded by our private sector entities. Several programs targeting MSMEs support were launched including the Strengthening Economic Resilience of Vulnerable Enterprises or SERVE program, line of financing facility, and a flagship COVID-19 Guarantee Facility under development” Said the IsDB Vice President.
United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) | EPA approves first surface disinfectant products tested on the SARS-CoV-2 virus
Throughout the COVID-19 public health emergency, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has worked to provide the American public with information about how to safely and effectively kill the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, on surfaces. Last week, EPA approved two products, Lysol Disinfectant Spray (EPA Reg No. 777-99) and Lysol Disinfectant Max Cover Mist (EPA Reg No. 777-127), based on laboratory testing that shows the products are effective against SARS-CoV-2.
“EPA is committed to identifying new tools and providing accurate and up-to-date information to help the American public protect themselves and their families from the novel coronavirus,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “EPA's review of products tested against this virus marks an important milestone in President Trump’s all of government approach to fighting the spread of COVID-19."
African Development Bank | Ethiopia: African Development Fund approves $165 million grant for national COVID-19 emergency response
The Board of Directors of the African Development Fund (ADF) on 3 July approved a grant of $165.08 million to support Ethiopia’s response to the health and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, including helping to ease fiscal pressures on the economy.
The grant, awarded from the country’s ADF-15 Performance-Based Allocation, will help bolster Ethiopia’s COVID-19 National Emergency Response Plan (NERP). The NERP outlines a reliable, multi-sector approach to tackling the pandemic.
It aims to:
expand social protection coverage for the most vulnerable
enhance capacity to contain the virus outbreak
address macro-fiscal imbalances as well as cushioning the effects of the crisis on the private sector.
“This Bank’s support will especially help local businesses and vulnerable households, particularly the urban poor,” said Abdul Kamara, the Bank’s Country manager for Ethiopia. “The program will increase the number of COVID-19 testing laboratories, train 45,000 healthcare workers in COVID-19 response, and aid in rolling out a risk-communication and community engagement strategy to raise awareness on transmission and prevention.”
The proposed program is aligned with the Bank Group’s Ten-Year Strategy 2013-2022, in particular the High 5 priority “Improve the quality of life of the people of Africa”, and Pillar II of the Ethiopia Country Strategy Paper 2016-2020, “Promoting Economic Governance”. The NERP is being supported in partnership with several development institutions such as the World Bank, the IMF and the Korean Exim Bank.
World Health Organization | Global scientific community unites to track progress on COVID-19 R&D, identifies new research priorities and critical gaps
The World Health Organization held a two half-day virtual summit on 1 and 2 July, to take stock of the evolving science on COVID-19 and examine progress made so far in developing effective health tools to improve the global response to the pandemic.
The group reviewed the latest data from the WHO Solidarity Trial and other completed and ongoing trials for potential therapeutics: hydroxychloroquine, lopinavir/ritonavir, remdesivir and dexamethasone. They agreed on the need for more trials to test antivirals, immunomodulatory drugs and anti-thrombotic agents, as well as combination therapies, at different stages of the disease.
The Summit hosted over 1000 researchers and scientists from all over the world and addressed the following topics:
virus: natural history, transmission and diagnostics;
animal and environmental research on the virus origin, and management measures at the human-animal interface;
clinical characterization and management;
infection prevention and control, including health care workers' protection;
candidate therapeutics R&D;
candidate vaccines R&D;
ethical considerations for research and;
integrating social sciences in the outbreak response.
World Trade Organization | Heads of WTO and development banks voice support for trade finance amid COVID-19 crisis
In a joint statement, the seven agency heads said that the COVID-19 pandemic was severely disrupting the provision of trade finance, which was already in short supply in developing countries and for smaller businesses. Under normal financial circumstances, trade finance is low risk, which is reflected in its cost. But as economic conditions around the world deteriorate, banks have become increasingly risk-averse. They are particularly skittish about financing cross-border transactions for fear of non-payment.
[I]n many developing countries, trade finance shortages impede imports of essential food and medical goods as well as exports of key income-generating products. Such shortages disproportionately weigh on the micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (MSMEs) that account for the bulk of employment, which means they have a particularly strong effect on the livelihoods of poor people.
Looking ahead, the agency heads vowed to “continue to assess market developments as needs evolve and … act within our respective mandates to reduce trade finance gaps that emerge during this crisis”. They called on other players to join their efforts, with a view to boosting trade and driving a strong economic recovery.
The joint statement was signed by the WTO, International Finance Corporation (IFC), European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), Asian Development Bank (ADB), African Development Bank Group (AfDB), Islamic Trade Finance Corporation (ITFC) and the InterAmerican Development Corporation (IDB Invest).
World Health Organization | Act-Accelerator update
[T]he ACT-Accelerator brings together governments, health organizations, scientists, businesses, civil society, and philanthropists who have joined forces to speed up an end to the pandemic.
The ACT-Accelerator’s investment case and the plans published by the organizations leading each of the ‘pillars’ show a path to the accelerated development, equitable allocation, and scaled up delivery of 500 million diagnostic tests to LMIC’s by mid-2021, 245 million courses of treatments to LMICs by mid-2021, and 2 billion vaccine doses, of which 50% will go to LMICs by the end of 2021.
To achieve this, the costed plans presented today call for US $31.3 billion in funding for diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines, of which US$3.4 billion has so far been pledged. An additional US$27.9 billion is therefore needed, including US$13.7 billion to cover immediate needs (i.e. US$17.1 billion is immediately required, of which US$3.4 billion has been pledged).
World Economic Forum | Imbalancing Act: Shift in Consumer Behaviour Spotlights Growing Cybersecurity Concerns, World Economic Forum Says
The rapid increase in cyberattacks and pressures escalating from the abrupt step change to digital prompted by COVID-19 have shifted consumer behaviour. The findings of a new report released today by the World Economic Forum Platform for Cybersecurity and Digital Trust emphasize the vital role of cybersecurity in technological development and point to how companies can significantly reduce cyber risk – a necessity today, not a nice to have.
“There is a serious imbalance between the “time to market” pressures and the “time to security” requirements for shiny new products and gadgets,” said Algirde Pipikaite, Industry Lead, World Economic Forum Platform for Cybersecurity and Digital Trust. “With the rapid increase of cyberattacks, companies need to prove to consumers that their data is secure. As the market shifts, we expect to see greater investment in companies prioritizing security and their longer-term success.”
With the economy and society growing ever more dependent on technology and particularly so in the COVID-19 pandemic, the security and privacy of our digital tools are more important than ever. With the dissemination of the cyber essentials in this report, the World Economic Forum Platform for Cybersecurity and Digital Trust seeks to provide guidance to entrepreneurs and investors determined to develop responsible, sustainable and secure technology and practices.
International Maritime Organization | UN Day of the Seafarer highlights sacrifice of key workers at sea during pandemic
On 25 June every year, the Day of the Seafarer turns the spotlight on the contribution seafarers make to world trade. With the global fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, the services they provide are more important than ever. Seafarers play an essential role in maintaining the flow of vital goods, such as food, fuels and medical supplies, that people, everywhere, need.
This is why the 2020 campaign is calling on IMO Member States to recognize seafarers as key workers - and to provide them with the support, assistance and travel options open to all key workers during the pandemic.
World Economic Forum | World Economic Forum Releases Toolkit for Leaders to Improve Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in post-COVID-19 Workplace
As business leaders seek to take on more responsibility for addressing social justice, adopting an integrated approach to diversity, equity and inclusion in the workplace can provide a key pathway. With technology no longer simply “neutral” about diversity, equity and inclusion, companies can leverage new technologies to create safe, open and inclusive work environments. These are some of the findings of the World Economic Forum’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 4.0 Toolkit, published today.
The toolkit outlines novel technologies with the potential to establish best practices that were previously out of reach. For example, new systems can review job applications at scale in far greater detail than a typically resourced people and culture department. These systems can identify and reduce bias, introduce greater transparency and visibility, and provide timely analytics.
However, the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 4.0 Toolkit notes that technology alone cannot create fair, equitable and diverse workplaces. It requires an integrated strategy that blends new technological tools with human-centric approaches to workforce management that focus on employee experience, purpose and belonging. To succeed, businesses need to leverage diversity, equity and inclusion as core organizational strengths.
Aside from it simply being the right thing to do, research indicates that increasing diversity, equity and inclusion brings a host of benefits to businesses. The toolkit cites research that suggests well-managed diverse teams significantly outperform homogenous ones over time, across profitability, innovation, decision-making and employee engagement. Conversely, companies that fall behind their peers in diversity, equity and inclusion are less likely to achieve above-average profitability.
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe | OSCE PA leadership meeting with Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Liechtenstein provides forum to share common challenges related to COVID-19
In the latest of a series of informal web dialogues between OSCE PA leadership and national delegations, Assembly President George Tsereteli and Secretary General Roberto Montella met today with leaders from Andorra, Monaco, San Marino and Liechtenstein.
Discussions with the so-called ‘microstates’ focused on the economic and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and related recovery efforts. Participants welcomed the meeting as an important opportunity to bring the common challenges facing small states to the forefront.
The President noted that the OSCE PA is doing well in terms of carrying out its functions and adding value to the international response to the pandemic. One of the lessons learned during this period is to improve preparations in order to better handle future crisis situations, he said.
Ferran Costa (Andorra) stressed the importance of small states strengthening relationships with international organizations. He welcomed the opportunity provided by the OSCE PA to network and tackle similar challenges with other microstates. He also shared detailed information about how Andorra has responded to the crisis and necessary steps forward.
Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe | Multilateral action, diplomacy and international solidarity to combat the COVID-19 Pandemic in Afghanistan
The Islamic Republic (I.R.) of Afghanistan, like many OSCE participating States and Partners for co-operation States, is facing the wide-ranging consequences of the coronavirus pandemic. In this critical situation, the provision of assistance to countries in need is essential. Afghanistan, now more than ever, needs the support and co-operation of the international community in managing the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan in Vienna is receiving trilateral support from the OSCE Secretary General H.E. Thomas Greminger, Ambassador Mr. Igli Hasani leading the Albanian OSCE Chair and Ambassador Radomír Boháč as Chair of the Asian Partners for Co-operation Group.
The OSCE and H.E. Ambassador Khojesta Fana Ebrahimkhel, Permanent Representative of the I.R. of Afghanistan in Vienna, call on all OSCE participating States to strengthen their support and commitment to the people of Afghanistan during the COVID-19 related emergency. The OSCE invites all OSCE participating States and Partners to make use of the Partnership Fund and consider pledges dedicated to Afghanistan’s fight against this pandemic.
Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) | Including women in decision-making key to effective and gender-sensitive COVID-19 responses, participants say in OSCE Parliamentary Assembly webinar
Governments should ensure that the gendered impacts of COVID-19 are prioritized in their responses to the crisis, participants said in a webinar organized by the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly today. To prevent the pandemic from exacerbating inequalities among men and women and reversing many of the gains countries have made regarding gender equality, it was stressed that women must be equally represented in all COVID-19 response planning and decision-making.
Participants noted that policymakers should utilize women’s civil society organizations’ wealth of experience, which is important not only in the immediate response to COVID-19 but also to achieve gender equality in the long term. To address the impacts of COVID-19 on women’s health, speakers said that attention must be paid to the needs of women health care workers, including through the provision of personal protective equipment and the continuation of standard health services for women.
“The COVID-19 pandemic represents a significant threat to gender equality,” Fry said. “Not only does this pandemic threaten to stall progress towards gender equality, it could roll back many of the rights we’ve fought so hard to gain. However, I believe that OSCE participating States can tackle this enormous challenge: together throughout the OSCE region, and in our own countries, we can ensure that our responses to this pandemic incorporate the voices and perspectives of women from all different groups.”
World Economic Forum | World Economic Forum Announces 100 New Technology Pioneers In 2020 Cohort
The World Economic Forum announced today its 2020 Technology Pioneers, future headline-makers addressing global issues with cutting-edge technology.
In addition to their long-standing contributions to their industries, many Technology Pioneers are also using their tech to support COVID-19 responses around the world. Some, like Sherlock Biosciences and Genetron Health, have helped develop rapid testing options for COVID-19. Another, Lunit, whose technology uses AI to analyse lung diseases from chest X-rays, has released its software for free online to help medical professions in the diagnostics and treatment of COVID-19 patients.
International Organization for Migration | Understanding Remittances Behaviour in Chad Amid COVID-19: IOM Launches First Study on Remittances
Landlocked, Chad faces substantial obstacles, including growing security challenges, compounded by a low-income economy, with a large informal sector. There are limited livelihood options and a looming threat of climate change, land degradation and water scarcity in some areas.
To better understand remittance flows to Chad, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) launched an online survey with global Chadian diaspora to identify key remittances channels and shed light on how remittances are used by Chadians at home.
This survey is the first of its kind in Chad and seeks to understand “remittance behaviour” among the Chadian diaspora in low, middle and high-income countries, and to a larger extent, the role of diaspora in local and national development.
“The survey results will provide an updated snapshot of the scale of remittances in Chad, as well as the possible impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on money transfers into the country,” she added.
World Health Organization (WHO) | WHO welcomes preliminary results about dexamethasone use in treating critically ill COVID-19 patients
The World Health Organization (WHO) welcomes the initial clinical trial results from the United Kingdom (UK) that show dexamethasone, a corticosteroid, can be lifesaving for patients who are critically ill with COVID-19. For patients on ventilators, the treatment was shown to reduce mortality by about one third, and for patients requiring only oxygen, mortality was cut by about one fifth, according to preliminary findings shared with WHO.
The benefit was only seen in patients seriously ill with COVID-19, and was not observed in patients with milder disease.
Dexamethasone is a steroid that has been used since the 1960s to reduce inflammation in a range of conditions, including inflammatory disorders and certain cancers. It has been listed on the WHO Model List of Essential Medicines since 1977 in multiple formulations, and is currently off-patent and affordably available in most countries.
Today’s news builds off the WHO Research & Development Blueprint meeting, which took place in Geneva in mid-February to accelerate health technologies for COVID-19, where further research into the use of steroids was highlighted as a priority.
The findings reinforce the importance of large randomized control trials that produce actionable evidence. WHO will continue to work together with all partners to further develop lifesaving therapeutics and vaccines to tackle COVID-19 including under the umbrella of the Access to COVID-19 Tools Accelerator.
International Energy Agency (IEA) | Electric car sales this year resist Covid-19’s blow to global car market
The number of electric cars on the road is expected to reach almost 10 million this year, as sales grow this year despite the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a new report by International Energy Agency.
Electric car sales are expected to fare better than the overall passenger car market, with EV sales this year to broadly match the 2.1 million sold in 2019, according to the latest edition of the IEA’s Global EV Outlook. This would account for a record 3% of the total global car sales. Based on data from January to April this year, total global passenger car sales this year are set to decline by 15%.
Electric vehicles play a critical role in meeting the environmental goals of the IEA’s Sustainable Development Scenario to reduce local air pollution and to address climate change. In 2019, all electric vehicles combined avoided the consumption of almost 0.6 million barrels of oil products per day globally. Also, electricity generation to supply the global electric vehicle fleet emitted about half the amount that would have been emitted from an equivalent fleet of internal combustion engine vehicles.
World Health Organization (WHO) | A cluster of COVID-19 in Beijing, People’s Republic of China
As of 13 June, 41 symptomatic laboratory confirmed cases and 46 laboratory confirmed cases without symptoms of COVID-19 have been identified in Beijing.
WHO has offered support and technical assistance, as well as requested further information about the cluster and the investigations underway and planned.
International Maritime Organization (IMO) | Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the repatriation of seafarers
The Secretary-General is concerned about the growing humanitarian and safety crisis facing seafarers around the world. As a result of COVID-related travel restrictions, hundreds of thousands of the world’s two million seafarers have been stranded at sea for months. Unable to get off ships, the maximum sea time stipulated in international conventions is being ignored, with some seafarers marooned at sea for 15 months.
United Nations agencies, including the International Labour Organisation and the International Maritime Organization, have worked with the International Chamber of Shipping and the International Transport Workers Federation to develop protocols for crew changeovers, taking full account of public health concerns. The Secretary-General calls on all governments to urgently implement these protocols, allowing stranded seafarers to repatriate and others to join ships.
World Trade Organization | WTO report looks at trade developments in poorest countries in wake of COVID-19
A new information note published by the WTO Secretariat looks at how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the participation of least-developed countries (LDCs) in global trade. The note stresses that LDCs have seen a significant decline in export earnings due to decreasing demand in key markets, falling commodity prices and a decline in remittances and are likely to be the hardest hit by the crisis due to their limited resources to stimulate growth.
The year 2020 started against the backdrop of a subdued trade performance in 2019. The value of LDC exports of goods and services declined by 1.6 per cent in 2019, a greater decline than that of world exports (1.2 per cent). Consequently, the share of LDCs in world exports also registered a marginal decline, falling to 0.91 per cent in 2019. The expected downturn in trade in 2020 is likely to be even more severe for LDCs than at the global level.
The ongoing pandemic may affect the near-term prospects for some countries to graduate from LDC status. Angola and Vanuatu, which are scheduled to graduate soon, and LDCs such as Bangladesh, which are on the path to graduation in the next few years, have been experiencing unavoidable declines in economic growth and export earnings.
Since the start of the pandemic, at least two-thirds of LDCs have put in place a variety of lockdown measures. Some LDCs have announced stimulus packages, which have covered export-oriented sectors. They have also strengthened healthcare systems and ensured social relief packages and liquidity support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
The international community has announced support measures ranging from debt relief to strengthening social sectors and providing social safety nets for the most vulnerable. Maintaining this momentum, while redoubling coordination efforts, remains vital as the world moves towards economic recovery.
African Development Bank | African Development Bank approves $20 million to contain spread of COVID-19 in G5 Sahel nations
The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank on 9 June 2020 approved $20 million in grant funding from the African Development Fund, to build capacity to curb and stop the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic in Mauritania, Mali, Burkina Faso, Niger, and Chad.
The operation will provide funding for the project which will also boost resilience of vulnerable communities, including internally displaced persons, refugees and their host communities, in the countries, also known as the Sahel zone’s Group of 5 (G5).
The Project will support epidemiological surveillance and case management capacity; make available medical products for COVID-19 prevention, control and treatment; ensure the deployment of social protection measures in targeted communities, especially, internally displaced persons, refugees and their host communities; and strengthen food and nutrition systems. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) will provide operational support for the project.
The region has been hit by COVID-19, if less hard than some other regions of Africa. As of June 6, Niger had recorded 966 cases, Burkina Faso 885, Mali 1,485, Mauritania 883 and Chad 836, for a total of 5,055 cases in the five countries. G5 countries have begun to lift emergency measures that had been put in place to halt and contain the spread of the disease.
The entire continent has seen 175,423 cases and 4,862 fatalities.
International Maritime Organization (IMO) | Keep ships moving, ports open and cross-border trade flowing, urge UN entities
The International Maritime Organization (IMO), which regulates shipping, and the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), which tracks world trade, reiterated calls for Governments to promote crew well-being by allowing crew changes and ensuring seafarers and other maritime personnel have access to documentation and travel options so that they can return home safely.
It is estimated that starting in mid-June 2020, as many as 300,000 seafarers a month will require international flights to enable ships’ crew changeover - about half will travel home by aircraft for repatriation while the other half will join ships, and 70,000 cruise ship staff are waiting for their repatriation. This process is currently hampered by travel restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, to comply with international safety and employment regulations, and also for humanitarian reasons, crew changes cannot be postponed indefinitely. Access to medical care for sick or injured crew and to medical prescriptions must also be provided.
European Free Trade Association | EFTA Parliamentarians discuss the impact of COVID-19 on trade and global value chains
On 8 June, the EFTA Parliamentary Committee (EFTA PC) convened through videoconference under the Chairmanship of Svein Roald Hansen, Member of the Norwegian Parliament. The parliamentarians met to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on trade and global value chains and to prepare for the exchange with the EFTA Ministers later in the day. Members of the EFTA Consultative Committee were also invited to take part in the meeting.
“In terms of Free Trade Agreements, there are mainly two areas that needs [sic] to be improved. First, is the enforcement. We need to have better enforcement procedures for our multilateral and bilateral arrangements and agreements. Secondly, sustainability in trade is a major point. Sustainability means to create truly resilient economies with supply chains that are not too fragile,” said Gallina about free trade in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Evenett argued that repatriating industries will not be the appropriate response to cope with the crisis and to prevent future possible shortages of critical goods. He further stressed that it was a misconception to believe that European and EFTA States economies were relying heavily on China to source their medical equipment; data shows a different picture. Afterwards, the parliamentarians discussed how the EFTA free trade network allows for the diversification of value chains and for the secure supply of critical goods.
Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe (OSCE) | Parliamentarians, experts and officials from UN and OSCE meet online to discuss counter-terrorism in an era of pandemic
While much of the international community’s attention is currently focused on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, traditional threats such as terrorism and violent extremism are as relevant as ever and must remain high on the international agenda, participants said at the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s seventh meeting of the Ad Hoc Committee on Countering Terrorism (CCT) today.
Parliamentarians discussed how crisis situations such as the COVID-19 pandemic can aggravate threats by offering new opportunities for terrorist groups to prosper and achieve their goals, as the attention of the world has shifted elsewhere.
“Extremists exploit the crisis for their despicable purposes, and violent protests and even attacks could result from dangerous conspiracy myths,” Lopatka said. “Right-wing extremists increasingly propagate hatred of foreigners, especially Asians, and also spread the anti-Semitic myth of a Jewish world conspiracy. Left-wing extremists blame the capitalist system for causing the crisis, reject governmental surveillance and foment social unrest.”
The European Space Agency | RACE dashboard now available
The coronavirus pandemic constitutes an unprecedented challenge with severe societal and socio-economic consequences. In order to shed new light on these changes taking place, ESA and the European Commission have worked closely together to create the ‘Rapid Action Coronavirus Earth observation’ dashboard – also known as RACE. The platform, which was unveiled today during an online event, uses Earth observation satellite data to measure the impact of the coronavirus lockdown and monitor post-lockdown recovery.
The dashboard allows for the monitoring of key environmental parameters – such as air and water quality changes, economic and human activities including industry, shipping, construction, traffic, as well as agricultural productivity.
One of the platform’s features allows for the tracking of air pollution worldwide.
WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM | The COVID-19 economy: does it mean the end of globalization?
The World Trade Organization has predicted that world merchandise trade could plummet between 13 and 32% this year, following the impact of COVID-19.
It's predicted the adverse effects of coronavirus on globalization may carry on for years, much like the 2008 financial crisis.
This chart, based on World Bank data, shows how global trade has been stagnant for a number of years.
Financial Times | Brussels wants €750bn borrowing power to fund virus recovery
“Ursula von der Leyen says the EU’s problems are too grave to be fixed by any individual members themselves”
WORLD ECONOMIC FORUM | Have we reached peak globalization - and where do we go from here?
Globalization has been a defining feature of the modern world.
Debate exists as to whether the COVID-19 pandemic will strengthen or weaken it.
Richard Haass argues that governments and administrations should be cautious, when perusing a strategy of isolationism, and that deglobalization could prove itself to be a grave mistake.
Increasing global interconnection – growing cross-border flows of people, goods, energy, emails, television and radio signals, data, drugs, terrorists, weapons, carbon dioxide, food, dollars, and, of course, viruses (both biological or software) – has been a defining feature of the modern world. The question, though, is whether globalization has peaked – and, if so, whether what follows is to be welcomed or resisted.
There’s no returning to business as usual — geopolitical scenarios shaping a post-COVID-19 world
Imagining a Post-COVID-19 World: Strategic Futures
Co-Published by GARI
As nations scramble to respond to COVID-19 — the worst global crisis since World War II — initial responses have understandably been locally and nationally focused. Many have urged a more multilateral response, but to do what? Even though the pandemic was inevitable, there are no plans for this. As of yet, it has been difficult to model the course of the crisis, given the number of uncertainties. Much of the analysis that is currently being presented has been concerned with the viability of particular pandemic policy recommendations, not with the broader context of what the crisis might be doing to the global economy and society. Recommendations that have attempted to address strategic dimensions of a post-COVID-19 crisis world are not based on realistic assessments of the likely options. We need to start imagining the range of potential futures we could meet and the assumptions that underpin them, rather than just extrapolating a future based on fear or an ideological perspective. Scenario-based thinking can help us with ‘sense-making’ and pattern recognition, as we start to plan for life on the other side of the immediate public health crisis — and the choices and coordinated global actions necessary to improve the odds of achieving the more desirable outcomes.
Although we cannot predict it, we can imagine it. The following are a set of scenarios about what the world could look like over the next several years. Scenarios can help us understand the potential social, political and cultural implications of the COVID-19-crisis, and how it could have longer term effects on our institutions, norms, values and morals. By making our assumptions more explicit, scenarios can also help us understand many of the strategic risks our actions are incurring, while realistically looking for possible positive outcomes. By forming a common view of what could happen, we might be better prepared to know what to look for and to know how to interpret data when we see it and to recognize patterns, and start to make more effective and coordinated choices today.
Scenario 1: The Panic Normalised
Scenario 2: Taming Our Worst Impulses
Scenario 3: Too Little, Too Late
Scenario 4: “No Return to Normal”
Scenario 5: An Atomised World
Scenario 6: A Disaster Forgotten
EU leads (an almost) global effort to fight coronavirus | POLITICO
Commission claims fundraising victory for pandemic fight even as total new money is unclear.
An EU-led fundraising extravaganza for COVID-19 vaccines, treatments and diagnostics fell just short of the European Commission's €7.5 billion goal on Monday — even after organizers decided to count money already spent or allocated.
But an even bigger challenge for world leaders could be keeping a pledge to fight the pandemic without fighting each other.
Russia and the United States, one-time superpower rivals in science as well as politics, pointedly did not participate, highlighting the real risk that some wealthy countries could look to control vaccines or treatments to benefit their own citizens first.
Even as there were serious questions about how much of the €7.4 billion in pledges represented new resources to be deployed in the battle against the virus — including about the EU's own €1.4 billion commitment — Commission President Ursula von der Leyen hailed the fundraising event as a landmark victory in global cooperation.
WHO and European Investment Bank strengthen efforts to combat COVID-19 and build resilient health systems to face future pandemics | WHO & EIB
WHO and the European Investment Bank (EIB) will boost cooperation to strengthen public health, supply of essential equipment, training, and investment in countries most vulnerable to the COVID-19
EU should ‘not aim for self-sufficiency’ after coronavirus, trade chief says | FINAncial times
Joint response to coronavirus crisis will benefit all EU countries | POLITICO
Tightly interlinked economies put the eurozone at risk of economic and political contagion.
By Fabio Panetta, member of the executive board at the European Central Bank.
FRANKFURT — The case for common European economic action in response to the coronavirus crisis has often been presented as a call for solidarity. As noble as that motivation may be, it’s not the only reason for governments to act together. A strong, symmetric fiscal response that offsets the economic damage from the pandemic is in the economic interest of all countries in the eurozone.
The disadvantages of an asymmetric response are self-evident.
...So it’s clear why a forceful, symmetric European response is needed. Failure to act now will not insulate taxpayers from the costs of this crisis. Quite the opposite: It will amplify those costs when they finally come due. It will also weaken the policy responses already being undertaken. For example, without visibility on future sovereign funding costs and rollover risks, government guarantees on bank loans will either be priced differently across countries — or fewer such loans will be extended. Either way, the result will be fragmentation and a more persistent loss of economic potential.
A European fiscal response must be based around three principles. First, the size of the fiscal reaction should be proportionate to the magnitude of the shock. Second, it should not aggravate fragmentation stemming from differences in initial fiscal positions. Third, it should not skew the playing field within the European single market. Viable firms should be able to withstand this crisis no matter where in the eurozone they are located.
Pandemic threatens multilateral world order, says French foreign minister‘
My fear is that the world after will look like the world before, only worse,’ says Jean-Yves Le Drian.
The minister said the response to the pandemic has created a "challenge to multilateralism," invoking as examples President Donald Trump's move to cut funding for the WHO and disagreements over China's role in the global power play.
"Major players are disengaging, as illustrated by the American decision to suspend its contribution to the World Health Organization, even though it is the only universal organization capable of fighting the pandemic," he said. "This struggle is also the systematization of the balance of power that we saw mounting long before, with the exacerbation of the Sino-American rivalry."
Asked whether fights over the role of China in the world could mar international relations, Le Drian said that the European Commission views China as "both a partner and systemic rival," while the U.S. "is a great power that seems hesitant to play its leadership role in the world."
He said the U.S. withdrawal as global leader made it "difficult to take collective action on the major challenges facing humanity" and that China's support is needed, too.
"I am thinking, for example, of the implementation of the Paris climate agreement. This can only happen if China respects the European Union as such," he said.
Relying on allies would not be enough for Europe, however, Le Drian said. "What is at stake for Europe is to exercise its sovereignty and find a destiny of leadership."
The IMF says its forecast for the COVID-19 recession might now be too optimistic
World Economic Forum
EU Parliament struggles for influence due to coronavirus | Politico Europe
At a time of crisis, many MEPs feel the European Parliament has pressed the mute button.
The assembly has tried to maintain its activity by setting up mini sessions in Brussels, holding e-votes and organizing committee meetings via video link.
But just as MEPs are set to adopt another set of emergency measures at a (predominantly virtual) plenary, an increasing number of lawmakers feel they have become irrelevant at a time when they should be holding governments and other EU institutions to account.
In addition, many say the emergency procedures and the system of online meetings and e-voting has paralyzed parliamentary work, leaving MEPs unable to properly discuss and amend laws.
WHO advises on a phased transition from an explosive widespread transmission to a sustained low-level transmission of Covid-19.
World Health Organization (WHO) updated advice to countries on the public health response to #Covid19 at national and subnational levels and to guide the global response. It advises on a phased transition from an explosive widespread transmission to a sustained low-level transmission of Covid-19.
Countries must do everything they can to prevent cases becoming clusters and clusters turning into a wide-spread community transmission again. Robust capacity to test and diagnose, isolate and treat and follow up on all contacts needs to be in place.
Countries are under tremendous pressure to stabilize the economy. But a strategy should keep its focus on controlling Covid-19 outbreak first, while normalizing life, to the maximum extent possible as second. Or we will face grave consequences in a possible second or third wave.
Everyone plays a role in this - citizens, institutions, companies and governments.
France, Germany join group of 10 EU countries calling for green recovery | EURACTIV
Paris and Berlin have added their names to a growing list of EU capitals asking for the European Green Deal to be placed at the heart of the EU’s post-pandemic recovery plan.
The Green Deal “must be central to a resilient recovery after COVID-19,” EU environment ministers wrote in an opinion piece published on Climate Home News, a specialised information site.
“The Green Deal provides us with a roadmap to make the right choices in responding to the economic crisis while transforming Europe into a sustainable and climate-neutral economy,” the ministers wrote in the commentary piece.
“We should withstand the temptations of short-term solutions in response to the present crisis that risk locking the EU in a fossil fuel economy for decades to come,” the text reads.
The op-ed was initially put online on Thursday (9 April) and signed by the environment ministers of 10 EU countries: Austria, Denmark, Finland, Italy, Latvia, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, and Sweden.
On Friday (10 April), they were joined by French environment minister Elisabeth Borne, who added her name to the list of signatories.
There’s only one option for a global coronavirus exit strategy | WEF & Project Syndicate
For now at least, heavy-handed nationalist responses predominate. Alongside curfews, lockdowns, and requisitioning, governments are closing borders and using wartime rhetoric to rally their populations. Global supply chains and trade are being disrupted not just by lockdowns, but also by wealthy countries’ competition for supplies.
Soon, however, governments will need to restart the global economy. And that will require international cooperation in several key areas.
The first crucial element of a COVID-19 exit strategy is massive testing (for both infection and immunity), so that healthy people can return to work and those who are infected can get appropriate treatment. For this, countries will need adequate supplies of testing kits and protective equipment, as well as ventilators and access to emerging treatments.
International cooperation is vital to enabling mass testing and treatment. A primary supplier of the swabs used for collecting nasopharyngeal samples, Copan, is based in Northern Italy. The reagents used to extract virus RNA from collected cells are produced mainly by Qiagen, a German company with a complex global supply chain. And foreign companies make roughly half of the ventilators in the United States; one-third come from Europe.
'That's enough' - Global leaders must unite to fight COVID-19: WHO briefing
World Economic Forum
Great Recession showed countries can’t fight the coronavirus economic crisis alone
World Economic Forum/USA Today
As the world economy enters an unprecedented crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and policymakers in Washington and other global capitals prepare record fiscal stimulus plans, stakeholders should heed an important lesson from the last financial downturn in 2008: Recovery is only possible through coordinated global action.
A little more than 10 years ago, as the world was entering the Great Recession, stakeholders had to look far back in the rearview mirror to the Great Depression for policy guidance. While the actions of the 1930s did offer important lessons for 2008 — most notably the need to expand the money supply — the economy of the 1930s was fundamentally different than the global economy of the early part of this century. READ MORE: A lesson from the Great Recession...
How to boost global resilience to COVID-19 | World Economic Forum
The Multilateral System Still Cannot Get Its Act Together on COVID-19
Council on Foreign Relations: from The Internationalist and International Institutions and Global Governance Program
Global Arena Research Institute launches the "Beyond" Initiative
The global COVID-19 emergency emphasizes local and nation-based responses and national
collectivism in general. In the short term, it is understandable. The multilateral institutions (including the EU) were not devised with such a scenario in mind.
However, in the long run, going national and going local is not the way forward. Nation-states cannot win the fight against COVID-19 (or similar threats in the future) by themselves. Moreover, there is a mounting risk that such a nationalist bias will endure and last beyond the COVID-19 crisis.
GARI believes, instead, that it is imperative to look "beyond" the local and national horizons
As of today, GARI launches the initiative "Beyond" to stress this point. We are starting by tracking and highlighting global, multilateral and EU-related measures to tackle COVID-19 and its consequences. We believe that the COVID-19 coverage in the (social) media favours reporting on national measures and national policies and politics, thus further prompts nationalism as such.
Our subsequent goal is to follow on implementation and impact of these measures in a coherent and continuous manner.
Any suggestions, inputs or comments welcome (via FB messenger, LinkedIn or email )