I wrote this post following an LSE event where five former Latin American presidents were asked to respond to the pandemic
This crisis places us in uncharted waters.
As a species, as a global community, we are in a weak position.
There is a sense of stagnation. Institutions are not being proactive. Leaders are being pathetic. Policy reactions have been negligent and are dividing, not uniting, countries.
For the first time, the US is playing no role at all.
Regions like Latin American lack institutions that speak with one voice. The big countries, like Brazil and Mexico, are busy focusing on their own problems.
This crisis is creating a fertile terrain for a new populism. Ideological agendas will be reaffirmed; and, as we have seen, the social media tools are there for this to spread.
The trend of civic business is moving too slowly. Most are doing business as usual. There are little to no ethical systems embedded in enterprise.
We need to urgently ask ourselves: how might we build a world system anew? How might we kindle hope? How might we plot new ways out of bad situations?
The solution requires a multidimensional perspective. It needs less focus on intangibles like GDP, and more on the real things that people actually use.
We need new social contracts that adapt to global megatrends (aging population, climate change, urbanisation, connectivity and so on).
We need economic growth, but we need greater scrutiny of income distribution.
We need more attention to healthcare technology. Primary care needs to become about strategies of prevention, rather than tactical band-aids.
We need to pinpoint bottlenecks and redesign systemic flows. We need to end border disputes, confiscations, and all other unnecessary friction to the sharing of medical equipment.
We cannot live in the law of the jungle anymore. We must combat anti-globalisation forces.
High-, middle- and low-income countries need to learn from each other’s innovations.
We have a new generation of technology, but we are using an old generation of ideas. New models of leadership are needed. New faces. People who understand the interconnected complexity of what is really going on. They need to become reference points for countries. And they need help moving into positions of influence.
Ultimately, a patchwork of responses are needed. A plurality. But a shared vision needs to emerge. A convergence. A common set of values that will rebuild trust in democracy.
This crisis has exposed the perennial weaknesses of the current system. Now we have a unique opportunity to strike decisively. We must coalesce intellectual forces.
But, most importantly, we need to rethink where these intellectual forces come from.