Solidarity and innovation key as economies settle into post-coronavirus realities

Solidarity and innovation key as economies settle into post-coronavirus realities
Digital technologies and innovation have been key in providing opportunities to keep activities running during the pandemic, and as the global economy emerges into a "new normal". Credit: iStock/thitivong

Innovation and active collaboration will be crucial for tackling current and emerging challenges as world leaders feel their way through the new normal ushered in by the coronavirus pandemic.

This was the main conclusion during a webinar about economic recovery hosted by The Brussels Times, and moderated by Dan Sobovitz and Pauline Bock, on Monday (25 May).

As classrooms, offices and social bubbles are pushed online, novel partnerships will be essential to fuel the innovation needed to better equip societies across the world to adapt to the shift, according to five experts in digital technologies that were part of the panel.

Representatives from the EU Council, International Telecommunications Union, UNIDO, World Economic Forum, and Huawei were part of the panel.

Debating ways for countries to use digital tools to bounce back from the financial lull brought on by the pandemic, top representatives of intergovernmental bodies and business stakeholders agreed that the world was going through a watershed moment.

“This will not be going away, there is no post-Covid-19,” Bernardo Calzadilla Sarmiento, director for trade and innovation at the UN’s Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) said, adding that new technologies offered perspectives into how leaders could help populations adapt to novel realities.

Since the pandemic hit Europe, digital technologies have been key in providing “opportunities for institutions and individuals to keep activities running,” Abraham Liu, Chief Representative to the EU Institutions at Huawei, said.

While the pandemic has uncovered new and existing flaws in our globalised societies, positive outcomes could emerge if leaders seize the occasion to further boost research, development and innovation and ramp up their collaboration, panellists said.

“The silver lining of the crisis is that it is an opportunity for policymakers to think of ways to reset the clock,” Isabelle Mauro, director of telecommunications and digital communications industry at the World Economic Forum said, noting that Europe’s strong research and development policies gave it a clear head start.

Echoing Mauro, the head of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) in Europe, Jaroslaw Ponder, said that the old continent was already well-placed to ensure that the emerging “cyber-ecosystem” was inclusive and resilient, pointing out the affordability of high-quality digital services in the continent compared to other world markets.

As the pandemic’s aftershocks continue to rattle economies and realities, solidarity and cooperation between public and private stakeholders has emerged as the guiding principle, and panellists urged leaders to embrace this in order to emerge stronger from the pandemic.

“Solidarity is more important now than ever,” Liu said, noting how cooperation between sectors had been and would continue being “key to transition into new economic and social realities.”

The Brussels Times

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