The Challenge

The global Covid-19 pandemic and the actions necessary to contain it have caused unprecedented social and economic impacts. Once again it shows how susceptible our societies are to crises. Billions of people are worried about their health, their jobs and their incomes. To limit the economic damage and to prevent it from being compounded by a financial heart attack, governments and central banks have been forced to engage in massive interventions. The inequalities in our societies have been cruelly exposed.

This shock comes against the backdrop of the mounting climate emergency, and when the effects of the great financial crash of 2008 and the eurozone crisis that followed it are still with us. We have in effect been living in a state of continual crisis for over a decade. So why have we been left so unprepared?

Financial, ecological and health crises are often compared to “acts of god” that are beyond our control. This is dangerously misleading. While we cannot completely avoid shocks such as a novel virus or a financial bubble, whether these turn into economic and social crises is under our control. We cannot limit ourselves to reactive and improvised politics and economic policy when in the midst of a crisis. In light of the last decade of economic distress and the climate emergency that is already upon us, we need a progressive politics of resilience.

Such a politics must be concerned with the timely identification of risks, and to tackle the social and economic processes that contribute to them. It must develop the capacity to enable our society and economy to handle the shocks that will arise, to adapt and reconstruct more robustly and to recover in a more sustainable and equitable way.

Continue reading for our full assessment of the challenges ahead.