Informative & Scope Opinions & People

Documenting 2020: The Lost Year

by Reyana Nacerodien

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on a number of industries across the globe. Here’s a record of opinions from thought leaders featured in this issue on losses during the pandemic and how all-important recovery can be achieved. This article was first published in In Focus issue 7 magazine.

Simon Mair
Environmental Economist
United Kingdom
Area of expertise: Climate change and economics

The pandemic has highlighted a crack in the economic system. The system dictates that you can buy a meal in a restaurant two metres from strangers, but don’t sit in a garden two metres from your friends. In this way, the responses to the COVID-19 pandemic have been driven by the same logic and values that ran the economy prior to the pandemic.  That is, the market comes first. Recovering economic losses would be a mistake. Instead, I believe that all industries must think about what they offer in non-economic terms and think about how they best deliver that. This is the basis from which we start to build a better system.

Troy Morley
Senior Industry Analyst
United States
Area of expertise: 5G

One thing that’s certain in this time of great uncertainty is that, communications networks are essential. As many around the world have been forced to work or study from home, the impact on the communications networks – both wireless and wireline – has been remarkable, and the networks have done a fantastic job of handling the extra load. 5G New Radio (NR) brings with it a myriad of growth opportunities that have been anticipated for the last eight or so years since work on 5G began. These growth opportunities were clear six months ago. While the outlook now has become somewhat less clear, Frost & Sullivan believes the pandemic only changes the timeline – from a big picture view, the changes are minor.

Robert Skidmore
Chief Sector and Enterprise Competitiveness
International Trade Centre (ITC)
Area of expertise: SME

In its flagship report entitled the SME Competitiveness Outlook 2020, the ITC analyses the impact of the pandemic on small firms, international supply chains and trade. It provides projections and a 15-point action plan for businesses, policymakers and business support organizations to weather the crisis – and gear up for a ‘new normal’ that needs to be resilient, digital, inclusive and sustainable.

It reminds entrepreneurs, governments, business support organisations and international organisations must take specific measures to survive the effects of the ‘great lockdown’ imposed in the wake of the pandemic.  It also contains guidance on how to ensure that MSMEs are at the forefront of generating resilience, inclusiveness, sustainability and growth in a future new normal.

Davide Proserpio
USC Marshall Assistant Professor of Marketing
Kenneth King Stonier Assistant Professor of Business Administration
United States
Area of expertise: The sharing/gig economy

Losses have been large for some companies in the gig/sharing economy like Airbnb. However, despite a period of extremely low revenue, it seems that many of these companies are now recovering from the hit. A key factor for a strong recovery is the ability of these firms to adapt to the different types of consumer needs that the pandemic generated. The pandemic reminded these companies that without their users, they’re not worth a penny.

The Agile Business Consortium
United Kingdom
Area of expertise: Agile business practices

The current COVID-19 pandemic has undoubtedly caused enormous individual and organisational hardship and loss.  But perhaps it has also provided the disruption required to breakout of traditional mindsets and ways of working, where the strength, talent and resilience of individuals is what has, and always will, make the biggest difference.

Teresa Ghilarducci
Labour Economist
United States
Area of expertise: Labour and retirements

The COVID-19 recession has created even more uncertainties and difficulties for older workers. The pandemic has exposed flaws in the retirement system. Low coverage rates make it harder for people to save on their own. We still see only half the labour force with retirement coverage. The retirement system was broken to begin with, but it’s really failing people now. We need to lower the Medicare eligibility age, raise social security benefits by USD200, and create a universal pension system.

Andrew Norton
International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED)
United Kingdom
Area of expertise: Environment and sustainability

As COVID-19 dominates global attention and action, it’s critical governments remember that their urgent action is also needed to stop the twin emergencies of nature’s destruction and climate change. While the pandemic led to a temporary dip in global greenhouse gas emissions, this must not distract from the urgent need for rapid fundamental changes in infrastructure, energy, land use and industrial systems to set us on a path to net zero emissions globally by 2050 at the latest. The tragedy of COVID-19 proves urgent, collective action is possible.

Main photo  by Laura Makaltses for UN Global Call Out To Creatives fr0m Unsplash.

15 Jun 2021
Last modified: 15 Jun 2021
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