VIII: “World After COVID-19
By the end of 2019 a fearsome virus invaded the world. The SARS-Cov-2 caused a terrifying disease, which was identified as COVID-19. It quickly spread to the whole planet, and claimed many victims. The world faced the most serious pandemic in a hundred years. It forced most countries to pursue policies of lockdowns and social isolation that have wrought enormous economic dislocations and challenges as well as causing massive mental stress on people. Societies had to confront their built-in inequalities, and the weaknesses of their health infrastructure. Governments that could afford to do it launched massive programs of fiscal support and borrowing. Despite all these measures, the pandemic has already infected close to 200 million persons and claimed over four million lives.
A lightening scientific response has resulted in our possession of a large number of viable vaccines in record time. Gradually, countries are trying to vaccinate their citizens, and progressively reopening the facilities that had been under lockdown. Schools are receiving their students, while shops, restaurants, bars and cafes are welcoming their customers. Escaping from their forced confinement, massive numbers of people who can afford it have started business travel and tourism once again. More explorations of work from home and staggered hours are being tested. And on the whole, in many parts of the world, life is slowly returning to a semblance of normality.
Last year also saw the reintegration of Nagorno-Karabakh (NK) into Azerbaijan. It is time to turn the page in relations between Azerbaijan, Armenia and Georgia, and to build a new future of peace and prosperity for all in the South Caucasus. There is much to do on all sides, but it is important that as we look to the future of the region, that we share a vision of mutually respect for the human rights of all nationals and residents of all countries. This vision will help the people of the South Caucasus to work together to build that shared post-COVID-19 future.
But beyond the specificities in the South Caucasus, there is a widespread global feeling that this pandemic was – and still is – a watershed event in the history of humanity. The countries of the world that seemed poised to commit themselves onto a path towards a sustainable future with the adoption of the SDGs and the Paris Accord in 2015, have suffered a setback on that positive trajectory. Extremely variable performance in the way the leading countries of the world coped with the pandemic, have made clear that old alignments and rankings may no longer be valid. It is this specific historic moment that our Global Baku Forum 2021 will address. From the global scale to the regional and national scale. From the political to the economic, social and cultural realities of the world emerging from that forced passage through societies in the grip of a pandemic. What can we do about each aspect of this emerging reality, and how by thoughtful actions today we can shape the world of tomorrow: “The World after COVID-19”
After the opening keynote speeches that will set the stage for the whole event, the Program will be organized in three broad parts: Global, Sectoral, and regional. Each panel will consist of members of the NGIC, and one or more top experts in the topic of the panel.