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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Coronavirus battle: Why not a collective response?

In the wake of the coronavirus crisis, what the world particularly lacks today? Yes, you're right. Ownership of the crisis remains the biggest problem. We are frankly more concerned with relieving ourselves of the responsibility than taking it. In her piece, a political scientist brilliantly explains how to collectively fight this battle.

There is a miasma of despair that is staring into our faces because of the coronavirus. It is not just because of the rising death toll, or the constant increase in the number of people getting infected. Neither does it have anything to do with the unimaginable economic slowdown, or the endangering of innumerable livelihoods. It is instead because of ‘us all being in it together’, as we keep saying to each other — and yet not being in it together during a global crisis.

Coronavirus and climate change, interwoven issues?

There is a stupefying noise that has deafened us all, thanks to fake news, no news or too much news. Everyone is acting like a messiah, but the reality is that everyone is a novice. Some call quarantine a privilege, others call it a curse. According to Laurie Garrett, an American science journalist there are growing concerns that if people continue to get re-infected by the coronavirus, even the ones previously tested negative; has the testing failed or is there a deficiency in their immunity levels?

Read more: Good news! Global emissions will fall eight percent this year due to COVID-19

More interesting questions are inspired by the likes of Climate-migration experts such as Alex Randall. The prevailing circumstances make us re-evaluate our commitment to global issues like climate change. In the future, we shouldn’t present excuses for not having ‘enough economic resources’ to fight global issues — because this is what coronavirus has trained us for: Fighting a catastrophe.

Now how did I jump from the problems we are facing during a global health emergency to an environmental issue such as climate change? Above, I also talked about news adding onto the noise, difficulties in dealing with the quarantine, lockdown — but I have not even touched yet on equally worrisome issues like the mobility problems, challenges associated with shifting to online work, education, travelling, life post-lockdown and so on. It is so, because all these issues are interwoven, and yet so independent — that it becomes all the more difficult to decide as to how many of them we have resolved, and how many are yet to be resolved.

Common goals demand collective action

Amidst the ‘resolving of crises’, there is a huge crisis about discourse. And a dilemma as to who has a greater stake in it, when supposedly ‘we are all in this together’?

Read more: Blood clots becomes number one cause of COVID-19 deaths

The answer is simple. Taking inspiration from the likes of Karen Litfin (1994), it is all the more important to bind ourselves as an ‘epistemic community’. In simple words, now that we are in a world shattered by the coronavirus, it is important that we do not just seek medical advice or count upon solely on international organizations such as the World Health Organization.

We should provide everyone with the opportunity to have a say, and be active as multi-level stakeholders using a multi-level governance approach. Be it the economists, political scientists, policymakers, local and sub-national populations, or any other experts as well as non-experts, who can contribute to building a discourse on the world post-corona.

This is very overwhelming to even imagine at a time when the world is already polarized along differing beliefs or perspectives. Constantly shifting power struggles are making it all the more complex for us to determine, as to who decides what? But this is what I believe: Issues always get resolved towards the end. They are, however, recognized and subsequently owned first.

Read more: COVID-19: Pakistan takes advice from New Zealand, Norway

Presently, what world particularly lacks is ownership of the crisis at hand. We are frankly more concerned with relieving ourselves of the responsibility than taking it. A sustainable survival in the post-corona world is only possible if we acknowledge and realize the system it has created and continues to create. During these grim times, we should remember that there is no evolution without discourse and no effective discourse without taking everyone together.


The writer is a political scientist based in Rawalpindi and currently teaches at an affiliate centre of the University of London. She’s enthusiastic about issues of global security, multi-level governance and development. Tweets at @NawalAmjad12. 

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.