Tackling Global Slowdowns | The Nation Online

The world has experienced dramatic challenges that require a common approach that addresses multiple crises within a short time.

These include Covid-19, climate change, rising poverty and inequalities.

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the global value chain, leaving more people unemployed.

There is a need for urgent reforms in the global governance system to address these socio-economic crises and safeguard the gains achieved in the past.

Following the expiry of the Millennium Development Goals in 2015, world leaders adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to ensure no one is left behind in the fight against poverty.

However, the world is haunted by worsening inequalities, poverty, pandemics and climate change. All these require a global system with urgent action and resource allocation.

The SDGs need more attention because poverty persists.

For example, the World Bank estimates that 150 million people will be trapped in extreme poverty without a good mechanism to eradicate it by 2030.

Ending poverty in this decade is SDG target number one. I hope world leaders will increase allocation of development cooperation.

In the US, President Joe Biden is advocating America to lead again after four years of isolation with his predecessor Donald Trump’s America First slogan.

The global goals embody economic, social, and environmental objectives that require more action from world leaders and global governance institutions such as UN agencies and the World Bank.

The global governance institutions are pivotal in making key decisions on development collaboration and cooperation among nations so that the long-term development gains should not be eclipsed by pressing challenges.

Since 2020, Covid-19 has crippled socio-economic development of nations.

The pandemic mostly accelerated by globalisation is a call for world leaders to reflect on the global governance of public health by strengthening and reforming the health system to urgently contain future crises. Already, there are inequalities in terms of access to Covid-19 vaccines.

Countries with strong economies such as the US, UK and China have secured the doses while poor African countries, including Malawi, have not yet started vaccinating its at-risk population.

It is encouraging that the World Health Organisation is calling for solidarity and enhancing global cooperation so that poor countries are not left behind.

Before the discovery of Covid-19 in December 2019, climate change was still a serious challenge to humanity even though world delegates who met for annual crunch talks in Madrid, Spain, did not commit to bold ambition and action plans to tackle the climate crisis.

Climate change slows the progress of countries left behind.

For example, in 2019, Malawi, Mozambique and Zimbabwe were hit hard by Cyclone Idai that devastated the trio’s socio-economic gains. 

The number of people vulnerable to disasters has increased. This demands well designed interventions, including shock-sensitive social protections.

The Paris Agreement on climate change needs commitment of all world leaders by coming up with interventions that promote nature biodiversity and country-led solutions that advance the SDGs.

Malawi and other African countries need to design national responses that include different stakeholders in all phases of programme cycle management as social accountability mechanisms that would encourage public governance.

Without the participation of affected populations, the programmes implemented lack credibility.

For global governance to achieve the desired development impact, there is a need to enhance multi-stakeholder partnerships that encourage cooperation of all nations with leadership that is ethically mature. 

The world is going through profound changes which need better institutional structures that encourage developing countries having equal participation in making global decisions.

Given the severity of the intertwined worldwide threats, global cooperation and redefining some of the rules and systems of global governance would be crucial to effectively solve pressing problems.

Future global governance system will depend on how global leaders address the challenge of climate change and Covid-19.

That is why world leaders need to show commitment in diagnosing the challenges and implementing ambitious action plans to achieve sustainable development, leaving no one behind.