Post COVID-19 Reconstruction

The future is not the past. While many tools and people from the pre-COVID-19 days will engage in the post COVID-19 reconstruction, we all need to be conscious that we are building a new world.

Some thoughts as we ponder:

  • Do we reinstate environmentally damaging practices? For what purpose? Is there a thoughtful and agreed trade-off happening, or is militarized power insisting?
  • Will the impact on women, children, LGBTQI+, people of colour, Disabled and Migrant / Asylum communities be taken into consideration in the “reinstated practices”? Or will the assumption of channeling resources to the white male head of households in developed countries remain the norm?
  • Applying the principle of Common but Different Responsibilities (CBDR) must include non-market approaches.

While it is tempting to “search for a methodology” that we can apply to meet the obvious need of all countries to re-construct themselves, now is the time to reach beyond the emotional satisfaction of a neat methodology to the impact.

Disaster recovery practices, while helpful, are generally applied in a limited geographical area which is able to trade with areas not affected by the disaster. This situation is a bit trickier.

The frameworks available include:

  1. the Sustainable Development Goals
  2. Doughnut Economics and the monitoring available through Leeds University.

It appears that data will be central to any decisions being made, with decision-makers able to pivot away from practices and spending that isn’t achieving outcomes immediately. Data quality needs to be taken into consideration. Some questions to think about as you review the datasets available:

  • For what purpose was this data collected?
  • How complete is it?
  • What shortcuts were made in collecting it?
  • How reliable is it?

Statistics Bureau will be central to all decisions and it behooves decision-makers to listen carefully to their advice. When you are making decisions without good data, at least be aware of that! Separately consider decisions based on good data, clear criteria and agreed outcomes with those made using only political judgement. And evaluate frequently so you can pivot where necessary. Perverse outcomes are the bread and butter of government so plan for them.

Meaningful post COVID-19 reconstruction will look something like this:

1. General agreement of the overall outcome sought. The vision of the country in the future will be clearly stated.

2. The facts of “what’s so” now will be agreed. Actual economic activity, numbers of workers in paid employment, amounts being spent by governments in stimulating the economy and where. Track the environment, human capital, cultural activities and resources as well as economic activity.

3. Identify who is partnering in the reconstruction. Include civil society (NGOs that speak for the experience of women, children, LGBTQI+, people of colour, Disabled and Migrant / Asylum communities and advocate for the environment) as well as public and private sector entities.

4. Monitor who is benefiting from your actions. “Leave no one behind” needs planning. Identify the communities your serve and check that intended stimulii are flowing through as intended.

5. Communicate your intended outcomes, the processes you are following, the data you are using and the gaps you know about. Establish a means of two-way communication. Social media sites are universally used and can be readily adapted.

6. Stay sane and strong within yourself. Take time out to reflect, to stare at the wall and to sleep deeply.

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K McGovern & Associates