Highlights & updates


Martina Szabo

COVID and Ageing Society dialogues: Home and Community-Based Care

The World Economic Forum's Global Future Council on Longevity, in collaboration with AARP and the National Academy of Medicine, has kicked-off a five-part dialogue series about COVID-19 and ageing societies. Five webinars during June and July will bring together experts from government, academia, civil society, foundations and the private sector to consider key issues faced by older adults, and highlight opportunities for action on ageing and health.

COVID-19 and Ageing Society: Part Two

As the likelihood of living into old age has increased, there are an increasing number of older adults choosing to remain independent at home and maintain closer connections within their communities. The pandemic has shown how important home and community-based care is, as one element of strong and comprehensive healthcare systems. It has also elevated the importance of home care workers and family caregivers. The second webinar focused on challenges and opportunities of Home and Community-Based Care for older adults. Moderated by Sze-Yunn Pang, GFC on Longevity Council Member and Yvonne Arivalagan, Ageing and Health Policy Researcher, GFC on Longevity Fellow. Paul R. Hogan, Chairman and Founder, Home Instead Senior Care, gave the keynote address, and panelists included:

Image: Sze-Yunn Pang, Global Future Council on Longevity member

Key takeaways from the Home and Community-Based Care webinar included:

  • The coronavirus pandemic has demonstrated homes as one of the safest places. It is not just about delivering care at home, it is about delivering the social support and enabling the social capital required for older adults to continue to thrive in their homes and communities.
  • Family care remains a critical aspect of ageing in place. More than ever, there is greater appreciation for family caregivers, and we need to ensure they receive the appropriate support to be part of the solution as we provide care to ageing populations.
  • The right care at the right time in the right place. With COVID-19, we have seen the rapid acceleration of virtual solutions, with this acceleration also comes the issue of the so-called digital divide. We need to be cognizant of challenges presented by virtual solutions, especially the implication on access to health and healthcare among people who need it the most.
  • The built environment impacts health and wellbeing. It can promote and encourage healthy habits and lifestyles, and plays a critical role in shaping how and where people interact and decisions to age in place. How we plan, design and build cities and our buildings has implications for ageing in place. Older adults want to maintain their independence, have easy access to transportation, integrated age-related services, recreation and connection to nature.
  • What home and community-based care looks like will differ across geographies. This will be shaped by local cultures, norms and assets. In countries with no formal systems of community care, for example in some parts of the Caribbean, they are working to develop practical trainings to educate family members to deliver care to their loved ones. There is, indeed, an opportunity here for local solutions to be shared globally.

Overall, what is important is that as older adults choose to age in place, in their own homes and communities, we must ensure that they have access and options to choose places which enable them to live longer, happier and more fulfilled lives.

Did you miss the summary of the first webinar? Read about it here.

Key takeaways from the last Social Sector Meeting of the COVID Action Platform

On Thursday 2 July, the Social Sector Mobilization Platform convened 50 social-sector leaders across civil society, philanthropy, social innovators and the Forum’s Global Shapers communities, to discuss the need to accelerate the establishment of a more equal digital infrastructure for all.

Led by leaders from TechSoup, NetHope, Fair Count and Mozilla, the discussion focused on developing a resilient and accessible common global digital infrastructure - which has gained a new sense of urgency in the wake of COVID-19.

Coalition-building and investment is needed for several elements of critical infrastructure for a digitally-enabled civil society, including:

  • affordable and ubiquitous internet access
  • tools, platforms and skills to leverage (capacity building)
  • digital policies to protect communities at risk
  • communities of practice to understand the diversity of needs
  • appropriate resourcing models for infrastructure sustainability

This was the final call in the Social Sector Mobilization series before a summer hiatus.

Returning to work in a pandemic: #WeAllMove platform delivers equitable and sustainable commutes

Following an engaging first webinar, the #WeAllMove platform hosted a second panel to showcase the platform’s pandemic applicability, and discuss how multimodality facilitates a more efficient and inclusive matching of mobility needs and supply to deliver equitable access to economic opportunities and core services.

Speakers included senior representatives from the World Economic Forum, Wunder Mobility, Luum, Hamburg Hochbahn AG, and Zeelo, and Oregon Health and Science University.

“Today we have five times as many partners as when we started #WeAllMove. Mobility services are being offered in over 350 cities in almost 50 countries... With over 12,000 visitors and over 170 form submissions, we are reaching a great crowd of people who are looking to stay mobile in this world that is changing around us”

—Ioana Freise, GM Wunder City, Wunder Mobility

Key takeaways from the webinar included:

  • Employers and public partners each have a role to play in creating an equitable and sustainable return to work
  • Lasting telecommuting policies will require flexible commuter benefits that rely on daily choice, including solutions like flexible office time and pay-as-you-park systems
  • Resilient, inclusive, and sustainable mobility systems must be agile, multi-modal, and integrated

“My hope is that the crisis that we're in now is more of a catalyst for change rather than a catalyst for returning to everybody driving alone.”

—Erin Hafkenschiel, Executive Director for Mobility, Vanderbilt University

#WeAllMove is a mobility service match-making platform launched in April, to integrate public and private mobility services into a single search and outreach platform, making it easier for essential workers to get to their workplace.

Society, Trade & COVID-19: Insights from our conference on the future of trade and investment

COVID-19 has wrought large changes in employment and consumption norms. How will the crisis affect trade's role in society? See below for insights from one session of the Forum's recent global online conference on the future of trade and investment.

This session's speakers included:

Karan Bhatia, Vice-President, Government Affairs and Public Policy, Google Inc.

Jesus Seade, Undersecretary for North America, Secretariat of Foreign Affairs of Mexico

Pierre Habbard, General Secretary, Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD

Penelope Naas, Senior Vice-President, International Public Affairs and Sustainability, UPS

Phil Hogan, Commissioner for Trade, European Commission

The ongoing economic contraction due to COVID-19 has led the World Trade Organization (WTO) to predict a one-third decrease in international trade this year, Seade said at the start of the session.

"Without major financial support, COVID-19 is going to disrupt a lot of urban commerce," he said.

Seade added that as countries remove restrictive coronavrius measures, there is "room for mutually beneficial cooperation" with an international mediator like the WTO to remove barriers for trade around the globe.

"We should not create unnecessary barriers to trade," he said.

Meanwhile, Google's Bhatia asked the broad question: What does accelerated digitalization mean for trade in a post-COVID world?

"What's really needed is a global trade architecture that's responsive to the new opportunities" afforded by the digital age, Bhatia said. He called for a global effort to reshape that architecture, saying that digital technologies are fundamentally global by nature.

"Digital trade is an opportunity to expand availability, choice and lower the price," said Seade, arguing technological developments would not overall widen inequality.

At the same time, Seade said one of the main challenges the WTO faces is a "serious communications gap".

On that note, Bhatia said: "There is an enormous opportunity for [the WTO] to take a real leadership role...but there is more that could be done there to communicate more broadly."

He added: "There is the opportunity to look at tools like YouTube to help that communication happen more."

Meanwhile, Naas commented on the importance of technology in helping to push back against gender bias in trade, saying "we should continue to ensure that the enabling environment around trade, as well as trade itself, does not create any kind of bias".

As the session came to a close, the EU's Hogan weighed in to offer some final words.

"COVID-19 is a transformative moment in trade history," he said. Hogan argued for the urgent reform of the WTO, saying "a strong WTO will help with developing a truly resilient economy" in the wake of the pandemic.

New project mobilizes business leadership to mitigate food risks from COVID-19

WBCSD is collaborating with the World Economic Forum's Food System Initiative and Consumer Industry Action Group, to collaborate on a new cross-platform effort.

The Vital Supply Chains project aims to support companies in navigating immediate challenges, with the goals of long-term system resilience and global food system security.

​The main objectives are to:​

  • Advocate for improved collective action, through the voice of business, for more sustainable responses during the COVID-19 crisis that lead to resilient and sustainable food systems​
  • Support business to respond rapidly and sustainably to priority food supply chain challenges and to ensure continued global food security by sharing knowledge to mitigate risks collectively​
  • Enhance food system recovery pathways through a strategic assessment to mitigate risks and weaknesses in a post-COVID-19 world

Watch more about how COVID-19 is affecting food security from our recent briefing:

Diagnostics project shares lessons on COVID-19 from gene technology startups

Part two of a dialogue about the Acceleration of COVID-19 Diagnostics project shared insights and experiences from World Economic Forum Technology Pioneers and innovators. The session featured two early-stage US genetic technology companies and an international non-profit discussing how to quickly pivot research, investment, and partnership to support gaps in COVID-19 diagnostic testing. New research and innovation in biotechnologies is injecting new energy into COVID-19 diagnostic testing approaches, with opportunities to fill critical gaps in existing testing capacity.

Eric Bernabei of Avellino Lab, a precision medicine company focused on rare genetic eye diseases, shared the experience of developing a COVID-19 test deployed in the first drive-through testing effort in the state of California. Several partnerships with large employers followed, as part of the Bay Area’s back-to-work efforts.

Avellino’s experience was complemented by that of Rahul Dhanda of Sherlock Biosciences, a start-up from Boston that recently pivoted from its existing development programs to receive the first US FDA Emergency Use Authorization for a CRISPR-based diagnostics test for COVID-19, as well as by Hunter Cherwek of Orbis International, a non-profit leveraging its experience in fighting blindness towards combating COVID-19.

In case you missed it, check out our summary of Part One of the Diagnostics project dialogue.

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