Systemic changes or back to the old normal?

Governments and international organizations have responded to the economic and health crises resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic and consequent lockdown on an unprecedented scale. The announced liquidity measures, rescue packages and recovery programmes total US$ 11 trillion worldwide. A total of 196 countries and territories have taken political measures, albeit of very different scale and scope, depending on their fiscal capacity and policy space.

If used in the right way, these programmes could offer the chance to become engines of the urgently needed socio-ecological transformation proclaimed in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Some governments and international organizations have explicitly articulated this claim by promising not to return to the old normal after the dual crisis and to "build back better", for instance by a Green (New) Deal.

But the reality behind these aspirations looks quite different. There are indications that policy responses to the crisis ignore its structural causes, favour the vested interests of influential elites in business and society, further accelerate economic concentration processes, fail to break the vicious circle of indebtedness and austerity policies, and in sum, widen socioeconomic disparities within and between countries. Such responses risk intensifying social conflicts, increasing political instability and distancing the world from achieving the SDGs rather than bringing it closer to these goals.

By Jens Martens, Global Policy Forum.

Read this chapter here.

Source: Report Spotlight on Sustainable Development 2020.