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COVID-19: The Great Reset

A vision for what the post-Covid world could look like

By Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret
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  • Contains 9 key ideas
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COVID-19: The Great Reset by Klaus Schwab and Thierry Malleret

What’s it about?

COVID-19: The Great Reset (2020) is a compendium of predictions and prognoses. It offers forecasts for how the global economy may change in the wake of the coronavirus crisis – as well as suggestions for how it should change.

Key idea 1 of 9

The coronavirus pandemic affords us the opportunity to create a better society.

By mid-2020, it was clear that the coronavirus pandemic would be a defining moment for the whole world. It was equally clear that its ramifications would transform everything: economics, geopolitics, our relationship with the environment, even our relationships with other people. 

This is a pivotal moment. We have the chance to ensure that these transformations are positive, to use this crisis as an opportunity to create a more resilient, stable, and equitable world. We have the chance to hit reset.

The key message here is: The coronavirus pandemic affords us the opportunity to create a better society.

Humans have experienced pandemics before. In the fourteenth century, the Black Death killed as much as a third of Europe’s population. Inevitably, this enormous death toll had a transformative effect – it marked an end to feudalism and the beginning of the Enlightenment. Other pandemics in history have also led to societal change.

Of course, the modern world is very different from the Middle Ages. When considering the effects that the pandemic will have, three aspects of the modern world are especially worthy of our attention: interdependence, velocity, and complexity.

Let’s start with interdependence. Thanks to global trade and the rise of the internet, different countries, and therefore different communities and economies, are more closely connected today than ever before. They’re also more dependent on each other. This interdependence means that no single risk exists in isolation – it has a knock-on effect around the globe. Think of the impact of a lack of action on climate change. That won’t just lead to extreme weather and a loss of biodiversity; it will also have ramifications for migration, the global food supply chain, and global governance.

Velocity is also a particularly modern concern. At fast-food restaurants, we expect immediate service. On dating apps, we expect instant matches. And, of course, on the internet, we expect to be able to access everything instantaneously. Not to mention next- or same-day delivery options, which rely on high-speed just-in-time supply chains.

Finally, it’s vital to consider the modern world’s complexity. So many different yet interdependent factors influence what will happen next, making it all but impossible to predict what the next global crisis will be. The coronavirus pandemic is far from the first fiasco to catch us off guard. The 2008 financial crisis found us similarly unprepared.

As we consider the varied ways in which the pandemic will change the world, it’s worth keeping those three elements in mind – interdependence, velocity, and complexity. They’re the forces that shape the particular world we live in today.

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