- The Prince of Wales called for a pivot to a sustainable global economy that’s more resistant to future pandemics at an online World Economic Forum meeting.
- Prince Charles said illnesses like the coronavirus may become more common due to human expansion into wildlife habitats and urged the world to restore the balance between man and nature.
- Investors are looking at environmental, sustainability and social matters as the coronavirus has revealed societal flaws such as weak healthcare systems and inequalities that exacerbated the outbreak.
Prince Charles called for a pivot to a sustainable global economy that would be more resistant to future pandemics and environmental shocks, during a World Economic Forum online meeting Wednesday.
The Prince of Wales said human expansion into wildlife habitats enables different illnesses to cross the species barrier — making outbreaks such as the COVID-19 pandemic, which has spread to over 6 million people and hurt economic growth, more likely in the future.
“The global economic recovery must set us on a new trajectory of sustainable employment, of livelihoods and economic growth,” Prince Charles said. “We have a golden opportunity to seize something good from this crisis.”
The 71-year-old prince called for the world to tackle climate change and restore biodiversity. He signaled support for placing a carbon price on fossil fuels — a surcharge, sometimes referred to as a tax, designed to encourage lowering carbon emissions — as a way forward. The policy has been implemented in various countries, including Sweden, and has faced popular resistance in places such as France.
WEF founder Klaus Schwab reinforced the message coming from global thought-leaders at the event, which had about 600 viewers, according to the organizers. He spoke about the need to reset the global economy and requiring the private sector to report on sustainability issues.
“It should be a must for companies to report not only on financial success but [also] on how they contribute to our environmental health, to social cohesion and exercise good governance,” Schwab said.
He outlined a plan to create task forces to come up with solutions to be presented at the gathering of the world’s business and political elite at the WEF’s meeting in Davos, Switzerland next year. In order to broaden the message, the organization will also hold a twin event with stakeholders in over 400 cities around the world who will interact with the Davos participants, he said.
Bernard Looney, CEO of the U.K. oil major BP, spoke about the company’s commitment this year to becoming a net-zero carbon emissions business by 2050. The oil and gas industry has struggled to accommodate investor demands that the industry become responsible stakeholders in the energy transition away from fossil fuels.
The trend is part of a growing movement of investors trying to influence the private sector to factor ESG matters into their business decisions. Such issues have become key as the coronavirus has revealed weakness in the global order like inadequate healthcare systems, income and ethnic inequalities that have exacerbated the severity of the outbreak, say experts.
Kristalina Georgieva, the managing director of the International Monetary Fund, spoke about the economic fallout from the pandemic and how her institution plans to help shore up the global economy. She said 170 countries will see their economies shrink this year and projected higher levels of fiscal deficit, debt and unemployment, which may deepen inequality. She said her organization is prepared to help and use its trillion-dollar lending capacity to usher in a recovery.
“The best memorial we can build for those who lost their lives to the pandemic is a greener, smarter, fairer world,” she said.
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