In the recent past, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Build Back Better strategy to reduce the risks posed by future disasters for vulnerable communities in post-disaster recovery. The concept has gained prominence in the wake of the new coronavirus crisis since 2020, once all of us across the world were partially or completely confined to our homes. World leaders have taken note of the growing vulnerabilities of their countries and economies from the pandemic. A pandemic of which we are aware is beyond a health crisis, but also social and economic.
Daily wage workers have been the hardest hit by closures and curfews. The loss of livelihood extended to many businesses whose business models could not be improvised in the new scenario. After showing some signs of recovery in March this year, the second wave made matters worse. Gen Z (employees under 25) feel most at risk in the workforce, according to a recent LinkedIn survey. Health spending and minimum job demands have reached an all-time high.
But, if there is sufficient cause for a grim present, there are also stories of people who have risen to the challenge, healing the world in its true sense. Health care, essential services, NGO workers are criticized for serving humanity in times of extreme crisis. Organizations go the extra mile to ensure mental health and a positive work environment, even if their staff work from home. Governments are considering free vaccination of the masses.
And so, as governments, businesses and civil society take action, what stands out is that the world is coming together and working for a common cause. This leads us to believe that partnerships are more than ever the key to success in the post-COVID world.
Collaborate for a better economy
The European Union is one example. Fewer jobs were lost in the EU than in the US during the COVID-19 crisis. This is despite the fact that the EU is home to around 100 million additional people and the United States accounted for the highest spending to help its workers during COVID crises. While the EU has rolled out major job retention programs, the US has focused on stimulus checks and unemployment compensation instead of job retention.
One of the main areas of intervention was to keep small and medium-sized businesses alive. Policy interventions, moratoriums on loans and a level playing field for them to compete with the economies of scale enjoyed by large companies could help them survive. It allowed workers to keep their jobs and therefore have a stable income, even if reduced.
Falling incomes are affecting demand, which further affects manufacturers and suppliers, with their upstream and downstream supply chains clamoring for jobs. It’s a vicious circle. According to an OECD report on the impact of COVID-19 on economic activity, an estimated reduction of 20-25% of GDP in many large economies. Therefore, such collaborations between the public and private sectors would be important to minimize the impact on global GDP.
Collaborate for a better society
After the COVID-19-induced lockdown, Germany introduced a new compensation claim for parents, with children up to 12 years old, who were unable to work due to the closure of daycare centers and schools. The amount compensated by the employer could also be claimed from the competent authority of the Federal State. Such measures allow companies to operate smoothly despite the disruption of remote working.
The private sector can play a role in avoiding layoffs, retaining talent, instituting strong inclusion as well as health and safety policies. Prolonged physical separation and the associated social isolation can pose a threat to the mental well-being of employees. Maintain employee engagement by increasing communication, offering improved insurance coverage, access to self-help facilities could keep them motivated.
Community development funds from businesses, which in some countries like India can be financed through compulsory CSR, could be diverted to help the most vulnerable – providing rations and essential items, improving skills marginalized to allow them to start something on their own or to choose another job, channeling funds by investing in start-ups supporting social and environmental causes. Thus, partnerships between the public, private and NGO sectors could catalyze rapid socio-economic recovery.
Collaborate for a better planet
COVID-19 made us realize how connected we are all and how we share this unique planet. Current global greenhouse gas emissions are estimated at around 51 billion tonnes. The human population is 7.7 billion today and will reach the 9 billion mark by 2050. Unless decisive collective action is taken to invest more in renewable energy sources, reduce fuel consumption fossils, regulate agriculture and industries that lead to depletion of forests and wildlife, the entire planet warming would only increase.
At the G7 summit in June this year, leaders agreed on a set of concrete actions to accelerate the global transition away from coal production as part of efforts to tackle the climate crisis. . More commitment must be shown in action, especially by richer countries, to achieve ambitious goals of limiting temperature rise and bringing developing countries up to speed.
Government intervention through grants and low-interest loans is needed to make markets competitive for alternative fuels, low-emission manufacturing processes, as well as restricting the use of plastic to Disposable. Technology could be a further boon in raising awareness and building capacity among the masses, and this can be achieved by bridging the digital divide.
Speaking about the impact of COVID on economies, Ángel Gurría, Secretary General of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), said in one of his statements: “Our analysis further underscores the need for a sharper action to absorb shock. , and a more coordinated response from governments to maintain a lifeline for people, and a private sector that will emerge in a very fragile state once the health crisis has passed. “
SDG17 or “Partnership for the Goals” aims to strengthen the global partnership for sustainable development. As things start to return to normal and containment measures are lifted, attention must be refocused on the need for public policies and funding in sustainable development.
International cooperation with particular attention to developing countries, access to technology, innovation, science and education will be necessary with continuous dialogue and trade agreements between nations thus facilitating the passage of the response to recovery. Efforts should be radically increased to ensure that humanity is prepared for the challenges that lie ahead – natural or man-made. This would pave the way for an ecosystem of collective action towards sustainability – of profits, people and the planet.
(The given article is attributed to Shipra Sharma, Head-CSR, L&T Infotech (LTI) and only created for BW People Publication)
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in the above article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent or reflect the opinions of this publisher.