EU member states must ensure careful and efficient implementation of economic recovery plans that support inclusion and growth to bounce back from the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, says a new World Bank report.
The World Bank’s latest EU Regular Economic Report – entitledInclusive Growth at a Crossroads – finds that the unprecedented and exceptional policy response of governments and EU institutions has cushioned the worst impacts on employment and income. However, the pandemic has exposed and exacerbated deep-seated inequalities, halting progress in multiple areas including gender equality and income convergence across the EU member states. A further three to five million people in the EU today are estimated to be ‘at risk of poverty,’ based on national thresholds benchmarked before the crisis.
The report highlights that effective recovery programs can reinforce progress on the green and digital transitions underway across the region. With the crisis continuing to unfold, government support schemes and the rollout of vaccines in a timely manner will remain essential to bolstering the resilience of firms, workers, and households. Given the longevity of the crisis and the impact on the most vulnerable, many governments have opted to extend the duration of support throughout 2021.
“A green, digital and inclusive transition is possible if economic policy is increasingly geared towards reforms and investment in education, health and sustainable infrastructure,” said Gallina A. Vincelette, Director for the European Union Countries at the World Bank.
With an output contraction of 6.1 percent in 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has triggered the sharpest peacetime recession in the EU. Governments will need to ensure targeted and active labor market policies are in place to support an inclusive recovery. The report highlights that special attention should be given to already vulnerable workers such as youth, the self-employed, and those in informal employment. These groups are more likely to face employment adjustments during the crisis and may face longer spells of unemployment or periods outside the labor force.
Women have been disproportionately impacted by work disruptions during the pandemic, particularly in the sectors facing the worst effects of the crisis. This was also highlighted in the 2020 Regular Economic Report produced by the World Bank, which found that at least one in five women will face difficulty returning to work compared to one in ten men. It has been harder for women to resume work due to the sectors and occupations that they are working in and because of the additional care burdens that have fallen disproportionately on their shoulders – a manifestation of increasing inequities in home environments.
“As recovery takes hold, it will be important for carefully targeted and coordinated policy support to continue to mitigate the impact of the crisis, with measures increasingly targeted towards vulnerable households and viable firms. Policy makers will also need to strike a balance between helping those that need it most, while enhancing the productivity of the economy and keeping debt at manageable levels,” added Vincelette.
World Bank’s Regional Action in Europe and Central Asia
To date, the World Bank has committed more than $1.7 billion to help emerging economies in Europe and Central Asia mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. Since April 2020, around $866 million has been approved through new emergency response (MPA/Vaccines) projects. In addition, up to $904 million is being reallocated, used, or made available from existing projects and lending, including additional financing, to help countries with their COVID-19 response.
The World Bank’s Global Economic Prospects suggests that growth will be strong but uneven in 2021. The global economy is set to expand 5.6 percent—its strongest post-recession pace in 80 years. The recovery largely reflects sharp rebounds in some major economies.
Spain’s PM Speaks with Global CEOs on Strategic Priorities in Post-Pandemic Era
The World Economic Forum today hosted a “Country Strategy Dialogue on Spain with Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez” for its partners, chaired by Børge Brende, President of the Forum. The session gave CEOs from around the world an opportunity to hear directly from Sánchez on the factors behind Spain’s remarkable resilience to the economic shocks of the pandemic and its post-COVID-19 recovery strategy.
In the virtual session, Sánchez explained his government’s policy priorities and answered questions from CEOs on promoting innovation, a digital economy, a green transition and social justice in Spain, and on improving the enabling environment for long-term investors.
“After deploying unprecedented economic, financial and social measures to protect our economies, Spain is experiencing strong recovery. We want to build the economy of the future, and to do it in an inclusive way, leaving no one behind. We want to attract top talent and quality, innovation-centric investments. In summary, we want to transform the Spanish economy and we want to do it together with the private sector,” he said.
“The world economy is again growing. Spain is on track to be one of the fastest-growing economies among G20 countries. With Spain being among the key stakeholders in the European Union recovery fund, Prime Minister Sánchez and his government have provided important leadership on how to use the current momentum for a truly transformative agenda, for Spain, but also for Europe.” said Brende.
More than 80 partners of the World Economic Forum from around the world participated in the virtual session.
The Indigenous peoples of the North in Russia have got extra support
The largest metal producer, Norilsk Nickel, has decided to provide additional funding to the indigenous people of the Russian Arctic – living on the Taimyr Peninsula, the company said in a press release.
This is the second tranche of the company allocated to the indigenous peoples living in the north of Russia this year. Earlier it was reported that Norilsk Nickel allocated 2 billion Russian rubles (25.9 million US dollars) for various humanitarian needs of the indigenous peoples of the Russian North – the Taimyr Peninsula.
“Norilsk Nickel’s response to the needs of indigenous peoples is a confirmation of the company’s flexibility and systematic work with local communities. Our agreement is a demonstration of the desire for sustainable development of the peoples of Taimyr. We constantly monitor the needs of specific communities and, in contact with the company, change the parameters of individual clauses of our agreements. Moreover, most of the changes are an increase in the number of events with an increase in funding for the most important support programs,” said Grigory Dyukarev, Chairman of the Association of the Indigenous Peoples of the Taimyr Peninsula, Krasnoyarsk Territory.
The company clarifies that an additional tranche of financing will be directed to the production of special literature, support for the publication of newspapers in the languages of the indigenous peoples of the North, preparation of teaching materials for language learning and some other activities.
“Nornickel strives to fully comply with the UN sustainable development goals. The company’s actions towards indigenous peoples are not a tribute to fashion, not an attempt to appease, but an honest, transparent and conscious position, the course of which is the development of corporate ethnoculture. We don’t just fund critical indigenous livelihoods and management programs, our goal is to build partnerships with all stakeholders: associations and specific communities. We always strive to respond to requests for adjustments to our support programs based on an urgent agenda that indigenous peoples themselves understand better than we do. Especially when it comes to supporting indigenous languages, promoting and protecting them. After all, language is the main vehicle for preserving the historical memory of generations, “commented Andrey Grachev, Vice President for Federal and Regional Programmes at Nornickel.
The agreement was signed at a round-table discussion on the results of an ethnological expert review to study the drivers of indigenous peoples sustainable development on Taimyr. In the period from December 2020 to July 2021, large-scale scientific studies of changes in the original habitat of the indigenous peoples of the North living in the western part of the Taimyr Dolgan-Nenets municipal district of the Krasnoyarsk Territory and the socio-cultural situation. The scientific organisations that participated in the review included Miklukho-Maklai Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Peter the Great Museum of Anthropology and Ethnography (the Kunstkamera), The Expert Center Project Office for Arctic Development and others. The representatives of the indigenous communities praised Nornickel’s openness and determination to remedy the damaging effects of the May 2020 incident on their habitats and livelihood, emphasizing the relevance and significance of the review not only for Taimyr, but also for many other Russian regions.
Guterres: South-South cooperation ‘more essential than ever’
The UN Office for South-South Cooperation (UNOSSC) held a high-level virtual panel discussion on Friday focused on boosting solidarity “in support of a more inclusive, resilient and sustainable future”.
Speaking at the event, the UN Secretary-General António Guterres said that “as the world seeks to ramp up COVID-19 response and recovery and tackle the existential threat of climate change, South-South and triangular cooperation is more essential than ever.”
The initiative comes just two days before the United Nations Day for South-South Cooperation, marked on 12 September.
Challenge like no other
António Guterres called the COVID-19 pandemic “the most complex immediate challenge facing our world and it is undermining hard won social, economic and environmental gains.”
He said that, in such trying times, “the solidarity that underpins South-South cooperation has once again proven vital for developing countries.”
“Throughout the pandemic, countries of the Global South have shared their knowledge and resources to support response and recovery efforts. But, together, we must do much more,” he said.
For Mr. Guterres, the world needs deeper international cooperation to address the global health crisis, reduce poverty and inequality, achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and avert climate catastrophe.
The UN Chief explained “that means building inclusive and resilient societies, empowering women and youth, leveraging digital, greener and bluer initiatives, and expanding sustainable financing.”
The countries of the South have contributed to more than half of the world’s growth in recent years. Intra-south trade is higher than ever, accounting for more than a quarter of all world trade.
“South-South and triangular cooperation offer concrete solutions to these shared challenges,” Mr. Guterres added.
Recovering from the pandemic
Speaking at the same event, the President of the General Assembly, Volkan Bozkir, said the world needs “to do more to help these developing countries in recovering from COVID-19 pandemic and South-South cooperation plays an important role in that regard.”
“I have a lengthy list of facts and figures about the impact on developing countries, on anything from income to inequality, from gender empowerment to access to social services. Suffice to say, these figures are not good. Years of development gains have been wiped away or are in jeopardy,” he said.
He said that, in his travels, particularly in Central Asia and in the Caribbean, he saw that South-South and triangular cooperation are pivotal to addressing challenges, particularly those that cross borders and regions. For him, UN country and regional teams are well placed to promote and support these efforts.
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