To reinvent the future, we must all work together

cooperation 2020

(Antonio Janeski, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Robert E. Moritz, Global Chairman, PwC

  • COVID-19 has made the existing flaws in our social and economic systems even more apparent.
  • It also offers us a chance to deliver fundamental reforms that put people at the heart of the global economy.
  • With the right leadership and common purpose, we can do this. Here’s a five point plan of action to get us on the right track.

In early June, Klaus Schwab – Chairman of the World Economic Forum – called for a ‘great reset’ following the pandemic. Pressing the case for rapid collective action, Schwab said the response to COVID-19 proved that a reset of our economic and social foundations is possible. He added that now is our best chance to achieve it.

I agree. It is becoming increasingly clear that the global economy is no longer delivering what is needed. While it remains the most powerful generator of social progress ever created, it has always depended on a system of rules and norms – and now these aren’t working. The most obvious symptoms of this breakdown include climate change, inequality and populism. Social progress has become decoupled from economic progress. Put simply, we have a design problem. And now COVID-19 is making the flaws even more apparent.

How can we evolve our economic systems to deliver sustainable outcomes for society? We need fundamental reform that puts people at the heart of the economy. Civil society, employees and the business community all have a crucial role to play.


For companies, this means embracing the concept of stakeholder capitalism by leading and managing profitable, sustainable businesses that deliver a positive impact for all of their stakeholders, including employees, customers, suppliers, local communities and broader society.

Five key actions

Turning that aspiration into reality in the midst of the deepest economic crisis many people have ever seen is a tremendous challenge. Unemployment, falling wages, strained supply chains and declining demand will present huge challenges. Government and corporate debt levels are likely to be high and will often have been incurred to fund day-to-day spending rather than investment. Without a robust recovery, trust in government, business and the institutions of society – which is already fragile – could fracture. Meanwhile, tensions between nations could well increase as the geopolitics of the pandemic play out.

In this context, we need to solve the ‘and’ problem. It cannot be a choice between long-term sustainability and short-term improvements in the economy. We need both.

To solve this problem, we need a framework that allows us to address multiple issues in parallel. Five actions will be key:

1. Repair. To fix the problems of tomorrow, we need to be around tomorrow. So the immediate priority is to mend the things that have been most damaged by the health crisis and the need to lockdown economies. Governments and businesses have been very radical in their approach to this. It will be important to continue with this willingness to think differently about how our economic systems work.

2. Rethink. The temptation in a time of disruption is to try and return to the way things were. That would be the wrong approach – both for businesses and governments. For businesses, it would be wrong to think the supply chains or the working practices or investment decisions of the past are the right ones for the future. For governments, COVID-19 has shone a light on the structural challenges our societies face and has created a unique point in time where fundamental change can occur. We need profound thinking about how our system can answer challenges ranging from climate change to automation. The same goes for multilateral organizations. By reinforcing the institutions that facilitate international cooperation, we will be better placed to deal with the next global threat.

3. Reconfigure. The biggest challenge is making change happen. Organizations of all kinds will need new structures and ways of working that reflect technological and societal change, economic pressure, and the need to be fundamentally accountable to stakeholders, not just shareholders. At a societal level, we will need to implement important changes in the way we make decisions, such as moving on from GDP to a more rounded metric of societal progress and delivering reform to systems ranging from education to healthcare to taxation.

4. Restart. Countless businesses that have not been able to repair what’s broken and have gone bankrupt amid the crisis will need to start completely new in a very different world. They’ll have to take the usual steps – creating a business plan, securing finance, hiring employees, building a brand, and so on. But there will be new complexities to address and further disruptions to manage. Some parts of the public sector, including portions of the healthcare system, face similar restart challenges.

5. Last but not least – report. The pandemic has seen people desperately seeking clarity on everything from how a company is implementing lockdown measures to how governments are managing the crisis. This demand for transparency will become permanent, and businesses and governments will need to show how they are performing against their wider stakeholder responsibilities. For business, this means reporting on a broader range of environmental, social and governance (ESG) metrics and disclosures – which is a move PwC welcomes and has been working with the World Economic Forum’s International Business Council to progress. Transparent and consistent reporting will help create the conditions for progress and increased trust. It creates the context for the market to work, by giving stakeholders more information to make choices such as where they buy, invest or choose employment; and it allows us all to see progress where it occurs.

Advancing to the world we want to have

The pandemic has made it clearer than ever that governments and organizations must change radically. That is not just about COVID-19, but also about the profound issues that were already present: global and generational inequality, low trust in institutions, climate change, and personal privacy in a digital world.

By working together, we can do all this. In fact, we must. And now is the time. COVID-19 has generated a shared global experience of a defining moment in human history. What is ensuing now is a period of reflection; one where people are not thinking about returning to the world they had, but creating and advancing to the world they want. Given the right leadership, and a new sense of purpose engendered by the pandemic, I believe that we can make the leap.

PwC refers to the PwC network and/or one or more of its member firms, each of which is a separate legal entity. Please see for further details.

the sting Milestone

Featured Stings

Can we feed everyone without unleashing disaster? Read on

These campaigners want to give a quarter of the UK back to nature

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Entrepreneurship in a newly shaped Europe: what is the survival kit for a young Catalan and British entrepreneur in 2018?

Mali peace process in a ‘critical phase’, says head of UN Mission

The Eurogroup offered a cold reception to IMF’s director for Europe

Hope for ‘long-elusive progress’ in negotiating peace in eastern Ukraine

To rebuild trust in the media, we must empower its consumers

Europe turns out more jobs this summer

“Smoking steam instead of tobacco, are the E-cigarettes a safer alternative?”

How COVID-19 is taking gaming and esports to the next level

Germany is turning its old mines into tourist hotspots

Quantitative easing: how Mario can tackle low inflation in Eurozone

How can we measure real progress on the Sustainable Development Goals?

Four years on and half a billion dollars later – Tax Inspectors Without Borders

Can I still send mail in the time of coronavirus?

Human rights ‘core to sustainable development’: deputy UN chief

Venezuela: MEPs call for free and fair elections in the crisis-torn country

World Food Day: here’s what the UN is doing to fix ‘intolerable’ wrong of hunger

Independent UN rights expert calls for compassion, not sanctions on Venezuela

Lagarde’s metamorphoses, not a laughing matter

Burundi: Inclusive dialogue ‘only viable option’ for resolving country’s political crisis says, UN envoy

The rise of techno-nationalism – and the paradox at its core

Antitrust: Commission accepts commitments by Transgaz to facilitate natural gas exports from Romania

Supercomputing could solve the world’s problems, and create many more

Pervasive corruption costs $2.6 trillion; disproportionately affects ‘poor and vulnerable’ says UN chief

Coldplay stop touring to save the world: is pop music going sustainable?

Is it impossible to place the banks under control?

7 key authors from Switzerland’s literary scene

Coronavirus could trigger a hunger pandemic – unless urgent action is taken

FROM THE FIELD: Free tutorials in Mali, ‘a life-saver’ for Fatouma

Technophobe or technophile? We need more conversation about digital transformation

Theresa May expresses her optimism about Britain’s economic success while UK business outlook seems ominous

10 start-ups that are helping to change the Arab world

“As long as we work together through thick and thin, more benefits can be delivered to the people of Eurasia”, China’s Premier Li Keqiang highlights from ASEM in Brussels

EU crisis aggravates structural differences, threatens cohesion

Afghan refugees: €21 million in humanitarian aid for host communities and vulnerable populations in Pakistan and Iran

Is the world living up to its climate commitments?

European Elections: “Web giants” are urging users to vote

Three ways the Fourth Industrial Revolution is shaping geopolitics

Venezuela’s needs ‘significant and growing’ UN humanitarian chief warns Security Council, as ‘unparalleled’ exodus continues

Multiculturalism, social diversity and tolerance

What the mighty mangrove tells us about our broken relationship with nature

EU-Russia relations: the beginning of a warmer winter?

EU4FairWork: Commission launches campaign to tackle undeclared work

Ebola outbreak in DR Congo declared over, now let’s tackle other health challenges: WHO chief

How to look after someone with coronavirus

A skills gap is jeopardizing efforts to end energy poverty

I accidentally went viral on TikTok. I learned we failed our youngest generation.

New rules allow EU consumers to defend their rights collectively

European Defence Fund on track with €525 million for Eurodrone and other joint research and industrial projects

Landmark agreement will protect 100 European Geographical Indications in China

Improvements to pension systems have made them better placed to deliver pensions

COP21 Breaking News: China has promised to cut emissions from its coal power plants by 60% by 2020

France is about to start giving free breakfasts to disadvantaged schoolchildren

Is there a de facto impossibility for the Brexit to kick-start?

Data is the fuel of mobility. Don’t spill it for nothing

Schools must look to the future when connecting students to the internet

Afghanistan can rely on international support along harrowing road to peace, and beyond

Direction Wakanda: finance methods to make Africa a superhero continent

Here’s how blockchain could stop corrupt officials from stealing school lunches

Lifting the lid on the value of a company’s human capital

Time to measure up: 5 ways the fashion industry can be made more sustainable

More Stings?


Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s