THE CORONAVIRUS PANDEMIC is having widespread impacts on our economies, our societies, and our environment. The virus is exposing the limitations of existing institutions, structures and systems, and exacerbating many divides and vulnerabilities in Canada and around the world. Social and economic divisions are being widened through the differential impact of the pandemic on vulnerable populations. At the same time, the pandemic also appears to be providing short-term relief to the environment through reduced emissions and consumption.
The webinars and the Virtual Victoria Forum 2020 aim at understanding the long-term implications of the pandemic and developing solutions and responses to it. In so doing, they will also lay the groundwork for the Victoria Forum 2021 by applying the lenses of Turf, Trust and Truth to a broader range of economic, social and environmental divides.
Impact of the pandemic on economic divides: The pandemic has had a major impact across the globe, and is deepening existing divides within and between economies, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable societies, enterprises and workers. Global supply chains have been disrupted, and in some instances may be permanently altered as the move to ‘build back better’ may seek to favour local or more diverse sourcing and supply chains. With a global recession looming and battered economies, protectionist instincts may prevail. The economy will recover, with some opportunities for new business models, but scores of small and medium enterprises — and some thought to be ‘too big to fail’ — may not survive.
Impact of the pandemic on social divides: The pandemic is deepening social divides by fuelling populism, racial animosity, discrimination and suspicion of ‘the other’. Confinement and isolation measures are affecting day-to-day interactions, compounding domestic violence, and threatening the deeper social fabric, particularly in cities, despite uplifting examples of solidarity and collective resilience.
Impact of the pandemic on environmental divides: The unexpected positive impact of the pandemic on the environment is noticeable in many regions of the world. Much of this environmental reprieve will likely be short-lived as economic activity resumes. The pandemic nonetheless offers avenues to ‘build back greener’, and has shown that impactful climate-related and environmental action is possible, albeit at a steep cost, and that our current course and environmental impact can be altered.