Daily Archives: April 2, 2020

We must break the cycle of panic and neglect

Health, global security and international stability are inextricably linked. And our globalised, urbanised and at the same time politically fragmented world has never been as prone to pandemics as it is today. Wolfgang Ischinger and Stefan Oschmann present five points that are critical in order to be better prepared for situations like these in the future.
By Stefan Oschmann and Wolfgang Ischinger – The number of coronavirus cases as reported on the website of Johns Hopkins University continues to skyrocket. The International Monetary Fund is preparing the world for a massive recession.

Governments around the world have mobilized incredible sums of money in order to strengthen healthcare systems in the short term and to cushion the economic consequences of the crisis in the long term. Without a doubt, health crises can pose a serious threat to all of humanity, one no less serious than the dangers of atomic weapons, terrorism or the impact of climate change.

The fact that health, security and stability are inextricably linked is not a new realization. The devastating consequences of pandemics – from the plague to the Spanish flu – are a firm part of human history.

Yet they are still being massively underestimated – despite the fact that our globalized, urbanized and at the same time politically fragmented world has never been as prone to pandemics as it is today.

At the moment, the focus is on acute crisis management. How can a lockdown be managed? When and how can a return to normalcy be responsibly permitted? And what exactly will the new normal look like?

These topics are currently being widely discussed, and rightly so. With this article, however, we want to point out that it is also necessary to plan beyond this period. We should urgently think about the following five points:

First: Overall, the global community has not succeeded in breaking the cycle of panic and neglect that characterizes the way in which it responds to pandemics. No doubt, after SARS 2002/03, significant progress was made in the areas of pandemic preparedness, in research and development as well as in vaccine development.

Countries such as China have considerably strengthened their healthcare systems. Yet unfortunately, this was not enough. At the Munich Security Conference (MSC) in 2017, Bill Gates spoke about the sad irony that the global costs of a pandemic massively eclipse the expenditure needed to successfully prevent a global pandemic.

According to Gates, the cost of ensuring adequate pandemic preparedness worldwide is estimated at US$ 3.4 billion a year, while the projected annual loss from a pandemic could run as high as US$ 570 billion.

The amounts being called up right now for global crisis management show that at the time, these estimates were a rather conservative estimate of the potential follow-on costs. One thing is clear: Pandemic preparedness is an absolute must and pays off, not only in financial terms. There is no price as high as the one we are paying right now as a global community. more>

Updates from McKinsey

How payments can adjust to the coronavirus pandemic—and help the world adapt
The challenges are immediate, with long-term implications for global, regional, and local economies—and for the payments industry itself. Here’s what to expect.
By Philip Bruno, Reet Chaudhuri, Olivier Denecker, Tobias Lundberg, and Marc Niederkorn – As the catastrophic human costs of the coronavirus come into clearer focus, so too do the consequences for people’s well-being beyond the immediate imperative to safeguard lives. Taking care of our families and friends, our neighbors and communities, our employees and coworkers comes first. For that reason, companies across industries and geographies have scrambled to establish remote-working conditions—and continue to improve them as the health crisis continues. Those that can, including most banks and financial-services companies, have taken swift action to protect both their customers and their employees.

The next focus of all the professionals involved with the transactions infrastructure must be the stability of systems, for both payments and securities. At this writing, despite the scale of the emergency measures underway, no major outages of core infrastructure have been reported. Payments systems have proved resilient and reliable, as they have in earlier crises. Payments systems and providers, which enable companies and their customers to transfer funds in return for goods and services, continue to enjoy a high level of trust from the general public.

At the same time, we all realize that the economic disruption will be profound and the short-term drop in activity for economies under lockdown will be severe. Quarterly GDP in the second quarter of 2020 could decline by as much as 35 to 40 percent—and the payments industry’s financial outlook reflects that uncertainty in the short term. But the industry’s stability will play an invaluable role in rebooting the global economy, and the potential for innovation can support functioning economies as a “new normal” emerges. Below, we observe how the payments industry can adapt now—and suggest ten fundamental changes to the payments ecosystem that will help all of us find a new normal.

How will the coronavirus crisis affect payments economics?
There is no definitive answer. Much depends on the complex interplay between economic activity, the interest-rate landscape and associated liquidity patterns, and the evolution of individual and collective behavior. Taking these factors into account, we expect revenue growth in global payments to turn negative.

Instead of growing by 6 percent, as projected by our 2019 global payments report, activity could drop by as much as 8 to 10 percent of total revenues, or a reduction of $165 billion to $210 billion—comparable to the 10 to 11 percent revenue reduction in the wake of the global financial crisis in 2008–09. more>

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Updates from ITU

UNESCO rallies international organizations, civil society and private sector partners in a broad Coalition to ensure #LearningNeverStops
By Clare O’Hagan – At a time of when 87% of the world’s student population is affected by COVID-19 school closures, UNESCO is launching a global education coalition to support countries in scaling up their best distance learning practices and reaching children and youth who are most at risk.

Over 1.5 billion learners in 165 countries are affected by COVID-19 school closures.

“Never before have we witnessed educational disruption on such a scale,” said UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay. “Partnership is the only way forward. This Coalition is a call for coordinated and innovative action to unlock solutions that will not only support learners and teachers now, but through the recovery process, with a principle focus on inclusion and equity.”

Since closing schools to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, governments have been deploying distance learning solutions and grappling with the complexity of provisioning education remotely, from delivering content and supporting teachers to providing guidance to families and addressing connectivity challenges. Equity is the paramount concern because closures disproportionately hurt vulnerable and disadvantaged students who rely on schools for a range of social services, including health and nutrition.

“We must speed up the ways we share experience, and help the most vulnerable, whether or not they have internet access”, said Angelina Jolie, UN High Commission for Refugees Special Envoy, who partnered with UNESCO in the establishment of the Coalition. more>

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