Highlights & updates


Martina Szabo

COVID and Ageing Society Dialogues: Impact on Older Adults in Low-and-Middle Income Countries

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

COVID-19 and Ageing Society: Part Four

South and Central America are now the new epicentre of the global coronavirus pandemic as cases continues to rise sharply, contributing to record numbers of new infections registered globally. Cases are also on the rise across Africa with experts now warning of the continent becoming the next epicentre of the outbreak. Fragile healthcare systems in many low- and middle-income countries could be overwhelmed in the face of a severe COVID-19 outbreak. The vulnerabilities of older adults may be particularly pronounced in these settings challenged by weak health systems, poor infrastructure and the specter of severe longer-term socio-economic effects of the crisis.

This fourth dialogue was moderated by Amal Abou Rafeh, Chief, Programme on Ageing, United Nations Department for Economic and Social Affairs (UN DESA) with a keynote address by Alexandre Kalache, President ILC International Longevity Centre-Brazil. Panelists included:

  • Abla Sibai, Professor and Chair of the Epidemiology and Population Health Department, American University of Beirut, co-Founder of the AUB University for Seniors Program and the founding Director of the “Center for Studies on Aging” in Lebanon
  • Ademola Olajide, Country Representative, Kenya, UNFPA
  • A B Dey, Professor and Head, Department of Geriatric Medicine, Former Dean (Research) Nodal Officer, National Center for Ageing, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, New Delhi
  • Laura Machado, CEO of InterAGE Consultoria em Gerontologia
  • Justin Derbyshire, Chief Executive Officer, HelpAge International
  • Anupam Sibal, President, Global Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (GAPIO, Group Medical Director, Apollo Hospitals Group, India

With special contributions from:

  • Isabella Aboderin, Professor of Gerontology, Pervioli Chair in Africa Research and Partnerships, School for Policy Studies, University of Bristol
  • Joy Phumaphi, Co-Chair, UN Secretary-General Independent Accountability Panel for Every Woman, Every Child, Every Adolescent; Executive Secretary, African Leaders Malaria Alliance (ALMA)
Image: World Economic Forum
  • As of today, 8 of the top 10 countries registering the highest number of new infections of COVID-19 are in low-and-middle income countries (LMICs)
  • The pandemic has laid bare the risks that most governments, especially governments in LMICs, have ignored for decades: inadequate healthcare systems, social and economic inequality and other structural inequalities have been exacerbated by the pandemic in these regions
  • The preventive measures critical to curbing infection and transmission of the virus remains a challenge in most LMICs. For example, challenges in observing physical distancing, access to clean water for hand washing and resources to procure protective products such as masks and hand sanitizers continues to be a challenge
  • Partnership and collaboration has become a critical instrument to respond to the pandemic in many regions of LMICs where we have seen exemplary leadership from civil society and the private sector working together to support local and government responses to the pandemic
  • Community and resource solidarity is crucial: in countries facing delayed response from governments, communities continue to self-organize and mobilize resources to support older persons to reduce risk of poverty, discrimination and isolation – using the community members to reach remote areas
  • Pre-existing inequalities that existed prior to the pandemic are resulting in the differentiated impact of COVID-19 on communities today

Speakers urged that we use the lessons from this pandemic to ensure a more equitable and better world for all and more importantly, a more equitable and resilient outcome for older adults.

5G and COVID-19: Insights from our first report

The response to COVID-19 has significantly affected connectivity trends, mobile technology use cases and the outlook for 5G deployment and adoption. A new paper from the Forum is the first in a series that examines the effects of mobile technology on the response to COVID-19, highlights early examples of 5G technology being used during this time and assesses the outlook for the expanded use of 5G in an era when ubiquitous, high-bandwidth connectivity has become more critical than ever.

Read the full report here.

The next article in this series will look at the future of 5G and explore issues arising from the easing of lockdown restrictions, the potential market opportunities,and recommendations for how public- and private-sector organizations can make use of 5G technology.

Learn more about the World Economic Forum’s 5G Global Accelerator Programme here.

Understanding the impact of COVID-19 on travel & tourism in Latin America and the Caribbean

Part of the Forum’s long-running Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Report series, this new publication takes a regional look at “the set of factors and policies that enable sustainable development of the T&T sector, which in turn, contributes to the development and competitiveness of a country”.

The report shows that some of Latin America’s and the Caribbean’s tourism strengths are less important than before the COVID-19 pandemic, because the the factors that make a country’s travel and tourism sector competitive have shifted. Certain considerations, such as healthcare capacity and digital travel offerings, are increasing in importance during the pandemic. Other factors, like international openness – a primary strength of Latin America – are now less important.

Key takeaways from the report include:

  • COVID-19 has shifted the factors that make a country’s travel and tourism sector competitive, with healthcare capacity and digital travel offerings increasingly important
  • Competitiveness will play a key role the region’s travel and tourism COVID-19 mitigation, recovery and reset strategies
  • Latin American and Caribbean economies can improve their tourism by addressing long-standing shortfalls in healthcare capacity, infrastructure gaps and ICT readiness, among others

Read the full report about travel and tourism in Latin America here or watch our dialogue below:

The Latin America and Caribbean Travel & Tourism Competitiveness Landscape Report uses competitiveness rankings and data from the World Economic Forum’s 2019 Travel and Tourism Competitiveness Ranking (TTCR), and puts them in the context of COVID-19 and the changes the pandemic has brought to the travel and tourism economies in the Latin America and Caribbean region. The TTCR is a biennial report that ranks countries on the competitiveness of their travel and tourism sectors; the most recent edition was released in September 2019.

How is COVID-19 affecting mobility trends? Key takeaways from the Financing the Future of Mobility roundtable

The fourth meeting of the Financing the Future of Mobility dialogue series was held on Thursday 16 July. This series brings the Mobility and Financial Services communities of the Forum together to explore cross-industry challenges and opportunities as the mobility ecosystem continues to rapidly evolve. The 16 July roundtable convened participants to exchange perspectives on the impact of COVID-19 on New Mobility and discuss the current financing and funding landscape. Speakers included Jens Brokate, Vice President, Automotive Sector from ING Bank and Anne Louise Metz, Director Non-Financial Information from LeasePlan Corporation.

Topics of focus for this virtual gathering included:

  • COVID-19 as an accelerator of, or hindrance to, New Mobility
  • Changes to financing and the investment appetite for New Mobility initiatives
  • Dominant transportation modes in cities vs. suburban/rural areas going forward
  • Shifting consumer preferences (e.g., online auto sales and reduced-touch delivery of vehicles)
  • Impacts on the micro-mobility environment and the future of micro-mobility insurance

Key takeaways from the meeting:

  • The pandemic has brought a shift in car ownership trends and business models are changing in favor of flexibility, such as short-term subscription models over long-term leases
  • Electric vehicles have seen demand rise during these past few months, evidenced in the recent stock market performances of many EV manufacturers like Tesla, Nikola, NIO, and Workhorse
  • Car ownership is experiencing a new consumer base with more millennials buying cars due to travel safety concerns; a short- to medium-term effect on public transit ridership is expected
  • The recent move towards reduced-touch and online platforms for vehicle buying, leasing and subscription will have a negative effect on traditional car dealerships and OEM manufacturers
  • Growing unemployment in dense urban centers, along with the disruption to work commutes, is leading people to move away from cities to sparsely-populated suburban and rural areas, often as a means to get away from the pandemic, or due to the inability to pay rents in cities. This could have an adverse long-term effect on public transit ridership and other multi-modal transportation options in cities if the flight continues

Update on the impact of Global Shapers' action on COVID-19

Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak, the World Economic Forum's Global Shapers network has been taking action in communities around the world. To date, over 150+ Hub Projects have been activated to support health systems, protect livelihoods and encourage inclusive responses to COVID-19.

A new impact report details how the 11,000 Global Shapers in 420 cities around the world have responded to the crisis, including by mobilizing 18,886 volunteers, delivering over 257,000 cooked meals and 36,639 kilos of food, and assisting over 1.6 million people with PPE, hand sanitizers, up-to-date coronavirus information, and more.

The Shapers' response to coronavirus focuses on three objectives:

1. Build knowledge of community members on COVID-19 and the latest scientific findings, through virtual sessions and online learning by the World Health Organization (WHO)

2. Amplify trusted information and debunk myths in communities around the world through direct outreach, social media campaigns and thought leadership on the Forum's Agenda blog

3. Increase collective action to support public health systems, protect livelihoods and help build more inclusive community responses through hub projects and global initiatives

You can now read the recent impact report published by the Global Shapers COVID Committee.

Learn more about how Global Shapers are responding to the coronavirus crisis on this page.

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