Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Covid-19: ‘we won’t get back to normal because normal was the problem’

Originally published in ODI by Sara Pantuliano

Discussions about the world that will emerge from the coronavirus pandemic have already started apace. Many commentators are wondering whether the crisis offers the opportunity to set the world on a more sustainable and equal path.

The Covid-19 recovery offers an opportunity to create a different type of ‘normal’ – one that can help restore trust in the state and reaffirm crucial economic and social rights.

The crisis is set to generate a loss of at least 1.5% or $1 trillion worldwide, which would technically mean a global recession with all major regions affected and a devastating impact on the poorest countries.

Plans for recovery are already being discussed, with a focus on the financial stimulus needed to help economies recover. But what is needed is a systemic change that goes far beyond financial instruments to recalibrate societal values and provide a more sustainable underpinning for the future.

Crises are often a moment of change: my experience from humanitarian contexts is that they should never be seen as a temporary breakdown, but rather as processes of change, creating new frameworks of social representation and regulation.

Demands for a new order were already emerging before the pandemic struck, with people taking to the streets to protest against austerity and growing inequality and the lack of government action on climate change. The socio-economic devastation Covid-19 is wreaking across the world must be seen in the wider context of the enduring effects of the 2008 financial crisis.

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