With the COVID-19 crisis, humanity is facing one of its most serious crises and challenging times in recent history. There are ominous predictions that nothing will be the same after this pandemic, with society, the role of governments and the economy undergoing significant change. As such, globalisation looms as a lasting casualty.
The virus itself can be seen as a consequence of globalisation. It has flown on its wings, sailed it seas and traversed its highways infecting over six million people in 210 countries. With almost ten million cases worldwide and almost half a million deaths so far from the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic in its aftermath, it will not only transform societies, but threatens to kill globalisation as we know it.
Will the pandemic crisis be the turning point in globalisation, and what would the economic, social and political consequences of its retreat look like?
Globalisation, whilst it has its critics, has lifted the living standards of millions around the world. It has forged closer geo-political relationships through trade agreements, and built greater cross-cultural ties. Perhaps most importantly, globalisation stands as the only realistic route out of poverty for the world’s poorest.
Global solidarity and collaboration is the only way forward
At the national level, the pandemic is forcing many countries to reconsider their social policies, especially social protection and healthcare. But it will also have profound and lasting social, economic, political, cultural and geo-strategic consequences. Our collective response to this crisis must be through the lens of compassion and human solidarity.
Globally once the crisis recedes, there will be voices urging for a withdrawal into nationalist isolationism. Likewise, certain governments in different parts of the world may use this pandemic as a tool to tighten their grip on its citizens, further weakening democracy and liberalism.
However, for many of us, COVID-19 is a stark reminder of our interconnectedness and shared humanity. This has been on display, not only through our shared suffering, but has allowed us to find moments of joy through our solidarity.
There have been tenors singing from balconies in Italy, communities have clapped and cheered their health workers, the elderly have found a stranger has left a home cooked meal at their door. It is this interconnectedness that is also facilitating the worldwide collaborative research being undertaken that will find a vaccine for COVID-19.
If there is a lesson to be learnt from the enormity of this tragedy, it surely must be the need for greater global solidarity and collaboration.
It has been said that ‘globalisation has made the world a small village’ and I believe that this is true as it has created many positive outcomes that have impacted so many countries.
We now have a responsibility to ensure globalisation is not sidelined in the chaos of the aftermath of this tenacious pandemic.