By Berrin Akyıldız
For the last 18 months, leaders of private sector companies have been grappling with the escalating impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. At next week’s 2021 World Bank Group-IMF Annual Meetings, experts will share their perspectives on global economic prospects, the private sector’s role in vaccine production and distribution, the prospects for trade, and the expansion of climate-related investments. Sessions will revolve around the broad theme of “Helping countries toward a green, resilient, and inclusive recovery and preparing for future crises.” For those interested in the private sector’s role in this effort, we zeroed in on four events:
- No matter the size of your company, global and regional economic trends can have an impact. A World Bank Group report in June forecasted global growth could reach 5.6 percent in 2021, the strongest post-recession pace in 80 years. But the recovery is expected to be uneven across countries. On October 11, experts will discuss the latest economic growth trends and dynamics of the recovery—and offer insights into how to increase private investment and job creation.
- On the following day, October 12, the focus turns to ensuring a more equitable distribution of vaccines and building stronger health systems in low- and middle-income countries. The panel will talk about the private sector’s role in the production and manufacturing of vaccines, testing, and therapeutics essential to halting the spread of the virus. One key area of discussion will be on lessons learned. “One thing made clear to us during the COVID-19 crisis is that future pandemic preparedness requires a much more diversified supply chain for vaccines and medical products. And one solution is to create more regional manufacturing capacities, including for vaccines,” said Zeynep Kantur, IFC’s lead for pandemic preparedness and global health resilience.
- On October 14, a panel will discuss different approaches to scaling up a green recovery, including through private investment. This reflects the understanding that during the pandemic, climate catastrophes spread rapidly as well: heatwaves, wildfires, and deadly floods, among other natural disasters. Ahead of COP26–the United Nations annual gathering on climate change, which will be held November 1-12– these extreme weather events have intensified discussions on how countries can combat climate change and transition to greener economies. “One of the paths we need to accelerate is putting climate change at the forefront of the business agenda,” said Rosane Santos, Sustainability Director at Brazil’s Iguá Saneamento S.A., a Brazil-based sanitation company. “The solution also needs to be collective. Companies, governments and civil society in general must understand they need to be more serious about climate change, as our existence depends on it.”
- The role of trade to spark the economic recovery has also become even more urgent. The health crisis, for instance, underscored the importance of trade in maintaining supplies of food and other essential goods. During an October 15 panel, private sector experts will discuss what can be done to enable trade to contribute more to economic growth and prosperity around the world. Topics will include increased trade finance, investment in trade logistics infrastructure, and other long-term measures.
Published in October 2021