• COVID-19 has hit public perception of leaders' and institutions' ability to prepare for and manage risks.
  • From climate change to jobs, there is an opportunity to rethink economic and social models and also rebuild trust.
  • The private and public sectors both have central roles to play.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had significant impacts across the globe - including on the public perception of how well leaders and institutions can prepare for and respond to risks and shocks.

So, what's the way forward?

Our Great Reset call on 18 November tackled just this question, looking at restoring confidence in leadership and building a more resilient world after the COVID-19 crisis.

Taking part were:

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission; Stephanie Kelton, Professor, Stony Brook University; John F. Kerry, Distinguished Fellow for Global Affairs, Yale University; M. Sanjayan, Chief Executive Officer at Conservation International; Arne Sorenson, President and Chief Executive Officer at Marriott International; and Ben Smith, media columnist for the New York Times.

Here's what they said.

On a common purpose and leadership

We are all in this together, so humanity has a collective, unifying challenge to overcome this pandemic. And it has a common interest to do so, in order to reopen our economic and social life.

—Ursula von der Leyen

I think we need policies that frame the great societal issues that we need to accomplish, that the private and public sector need to accomplish, as places where we can create more opportunities for folks, as opposed to places where we shut down opportunity that already exists.

—Arne Sorensen

With so many people making so many sacrifices, I think it is so important that we’re able to offer a sense of direction and sense of hope. We know we’re not out of the woods yet and we won't be for a while, but there is an old word, which has long disappeared from the dictionary, which I think sums up where we are.

The word respair was used in the 15th century to describe the return of hope after a period of despair... I think it’s time to respair and reset.

—Ursula von der Leyen
coronavirus, health, COVID19, pandemic

What is the World Economic Forum doing to manage emerging risks from COVID-19?

The first global pandemic in more than 100 years, COVID-19 has spread throughout the world at an unprecedented speed. At the time of writing, 4.5 million cases have been confirmed and more than 300,000 people have died due to the virus.

As countries seek to recover, some of the more long-term economic, business, environmental, societal and technological challenges and opportunities are just beginning to become visible.

To help all stakeholders – communities, governments, businesses and individuals understand the emerging risks and follow-on effects generated by the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, the World Economic Forum, in collaboration with Marsh and McLennan and Zurich Insurance Group, has launched its COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications - a companion for decision-makers, building on the Forum’s annual Global Risks Report.

The report reveals that the economic impact of COVID-19 is dominating companies’ risks perceptions.

Companies are invited to join the Forum’s work to help manage the identified emerging risks of COVID-19 across industries to shape a better future. Read the full COVID-19 Risks Outlook: A Preliminary Mapping and its Implications report here, and our impact story with further information.

On the role of public and private sector

I think the public sector is uniquely positioned to lead in financing large-scale, green tech investments.

—Stephanie Kelton

It’s a digital world, moving at digital pace. Everything is moving faster - ideas, people, goods - but not government. Government just has to find a way to move faster and address more of the real concerns of its citizens or there will be an increasing backlash.

—John Kerry

The thing that really shocked me this year is that the good businesses, the great businesses, used the headwinds of this year to accelerate away from the rest of the pack.

—M. Sanjayan

On jobs

As we start to recover, it’s going to be incredibly important that rural jobs, and not just city jobs, are preserved and in that protection and restoration of nature is a huge, huge ally.

—M. Sanjayan

There have been hundreds of millions of jobs lost around the world, because of this [COVID-19] crisis. There needs to be stimulus, particularly for small business, so that they are employers and those jobs are brought back online as quickly as possible.

—Arne Sorensen

On the planet

It’s not enough for the United States to just rejoin the Paris Agreement. It’s not enough to just do the minimum of what Paris requires.

—John Kerry

What we’re hearing from politicians is that this is a real opportunity to move away from the idea that these goals are in tension with each other - that it’s the economy and jobs or it is climate. In fact it is both that can be improved.

—Stephanie Kelton