COVID-19 emergency response activities, Madartek, Basabo, Dhaka
Covid-19 emergency response activities, Madartek, Basabo, Dhaka UN Women - Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

9 building blocks for a comprehensive global response to Covid-19

The Covid-19 pandemic has swept the world and caused devastation and economic mayhem in even the world’s richest countries.

More than 22 million people worldwide have fallen victim to Covid-19, 788 thousand of whom have lost their lives.

Despite forecasts, Africa has seen less cases and deaths than Europe. For example, Africa has twice as many people as the EU and UK combined, but has had deaths that equal only 3% of total reported Covid-19-related deaths in the UK and EU.

The crisis exacerbates systemic problems and parallel crises

People in Africa and other lower-to-middle income countries may be more physically resilient to Covid-19 infections, but they are significantly less prepared for and able to cope with the parallel crises exacerbated by the pandemic.

The poorest, most fragile, conflict-affected and indebted countries are likely to face the worst impacts of Covid-19: increasing poverty and hunger, economic recession, loss of jobs and livelihoods, insecurity, humanitarian emergencies, increasing domestic violence, forced displacement and migration.

These well-known problems magnify the equally unresolved underlying systemic issues: social and economic inequality and injustice, climate change, unsustainable food systems, excessive consumption, waste and pollution, extractive and exploitative economic models, and an outdated international financial and trade system.

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International cooperation, solidarity and aid will become even more important to supporting the world’s most marginalised people, as we see decreasing trade and investment, costly pandemic responses, unsustainable levels of debt, limited fiscal space to borrow and declining domestic resource mobilisation capacities. With expected decline of overall official development assistance (ODA) in the UK and globally, it’s essential every dollar, euro and pound goes to those most in need.

9 ways to build back better

Effective global response to this multidimensional crisis should not be just about providing “painkillers” to get back to “business as usual” as quickly as possible. It should be about addressing the root causes of pandemics and related emergencies to “build back better” and for long-term sustainable development.

Since April, we’ve been working with our members and partners to define a comprehensive and effective global response to Covid-19. We’ve highlighted the nine key areas of work where the UK government and other international donors should direct maximum international cooperation, support and aid.

With more than 140 recommendations, this is not a Christmas wishlist. It is an urgent to-do list to avoid catastrophic consequences that risk undoing decades of progress.

An important lesson Covid-19 has taught us is that we need to recognise the great interconnectedness of the health of people, nature, economies and social systems. We cannot overly-prioritise one area over another, as they all are inter-linked and co-dependent. Failure to devote adequate attention, support, solidarity and resources to address the causes and consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and several parallel crises will have an unprecedented human and environmental cost in the future.

The key nine building blocks of a comprehensive response to the Covid-19 crisis are:

  1. Adhering to a set of key principles in all initiatives by all actors, regardless of the total amount the government has available to spend
  2. Providing global leadership and adequate funding
  3. Leaving no one behind
  4. Strengthening healthcare and health systems
  5. Delivering an effective humanitarian response
  6. Protecting human rights and good governance
  7. Tackling wider socio-economic impacts
  8. Widening access to public services and systems strengthening
  9. Addressing climate change and environmental degradation.

Advocating for a comprehensive global response to Covid-19

Since May, we have led the sector’s dialogue with the Department for International Development (DFID) to discuss and shape its response to Covid-19 based on our vision of a comprehensive global response. We have set up thematic task forces on four areas of work: public health, humanitarian issues, funding, rights and governance. These taskforces have been meeting with DFID every three to six weeks to discuss specific technical aspects of these critical issues.

We’ve also been convening bi-weekly CEO-level meetings with Nick Dyer, acting permanent secretary for DFID, and minister Baroness Sugg to facilitate ongoing strategic and technical discussion between DFID and civil society on the sector’s response to Covid-19.

We expect that this dialogue to continue with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), once DFID has been merged with the FCO. We expect the FCDO to recognise the important role of civil society in effective response and to demonstrate the same commitment to transparency, accountability and social dialogue as DFID.

We recognise that with more knowledge, data and analysis on the true impact of Covid-19 on people around the world, our recommendations will keep evolving on a more technical level. However, these nine overarching building blocks of an effective response will continue shaping Bond’s vision for a more just and sustainable world – a world which is more resilient to crisis and rebuilt to prevent more crises like the one we all find ourselves in.

Download our full policy recommendations for the UK government to address the Covid-19 pandemic globally.