People, Prosperity, Circular Economy, Cities & Urbanisation, Peace & Partnership

Life after the pandemic: When this is all over

Global Initiatives | May 05, 2020


A worker cleans the waterfront area of the Sydney Opera House March 26, 2020. [Reuters]

This article was produced and published by Racia Yoong from Global Initiatives. 

Before this, we wished to be separated from noisy, lively streets and avoided starting conversations with strangers on the street.

Now, we yearn for things we never did before as we reorder our priorities and amend our appreciation for simple joys and human contact. 

Rohit Brijnath from The Straits Times describes the coronavirus as a long-distance swim; we won’t know when the race will be over because of shifting goalposts and turbulent currents, but we need to have that resilience to keep moving forward. 

As we hold on to hope, many people are learning to reconnect with friends, faith, and old pastimes for some routine, laughter, and strength. 

Others have found unusual strength in the kindness of volunteers who coordinate their efforts towards different activities such as distribute food to the less fortunate. This crisis has forced many of us to step out of our comfort zones. 

Jennifer Lorenzini by LaPresse via AP

Living In Big Cities

The pandemic is changing the way city dwellers talk about life in big cities – New York for example and making some people rethink where they live after this crisis is past. 

As America’s largest and densest city, New York quickly became the epicenter of the country’s coronavirus outbreak. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo wasn’t quick to mince his words and said that the density of people in a small geographic location is what’s allowing the virus to spread quickly. 

So many who have left the city aren’t so sure about future plans to relocate back to New York, and others wonder if the city will ever be the same again after this pandemic. 

The pandemic has exposed the quality of governance and scale of inequalities across global cities as city governors are revisiting urban plans to retrofit buildings and public spaces that bolster future threats.

While this provides an opportunity for urban planners to build back better, major cities like New York aren’t the only ones that will see their populations dip in the coming years. 

Global Economic Restructuring

Drawing attention to the parallels between the economic consequences of the Spanish flu epidemic and coronavirus, the gross domestic product (GDP) is predicted to fall by 15% to 25% in June, and unemployment will soar to 10% by the end of the year.

The impact of the lockdown on economic activity is painfully obvious and is creating even greater hardship on innocent victims suffering from this clampdown.  

However, the crisis has revealed opportunities to improve the performance of businesses but this requires leaders to reconsider existing priorities and life after the pandemic. 

The effects of the coronavirus are felt in almost all sectors of society, and many businesses have had to adapt in creative and surprising ways amid this imminent disaster.

Going back to business, as usual, is short-sighted. Green and inclusive growth is no longer a nice catchphrase, but a necessity. 

As the shock begins to upturn established industry structures, businesses are told to act on broader resilience plans in order to see some potential for faster recovery while the rest of the world struggles to manage this new sense of normalcy. 

Adnan Abidi by Reuters

Collective Responsibility

One difficult episode that this pandemic teaches us is the importance of collaborative solutions between open societies and an effective public government. 

It is imperative to adopt a movement for collective activism if we want to move towards change for greater public action.

The best way to tackle future problems like a global health crisis is to give adequate attention to openness and transparency in information-sharing so that governments are supported in a coordinated way. 

Ultimately, it is crucial that ordinary citizens feel entitled to have discussions about policies, engage in issues, and push for change.

Singapore NMP Walter Theseira added that citizens should be able to do so without joining or supporting a political party. Public participation plays an important role in achieving sustainable development. 

Life Beyond Coronavirus

Some cities are returning to a world reimagined in the age of coronavirus, with social distancing, hygiene standards, and government restrictions infused into nearly every aspect of their lives – at least until a vaccine is found. 

In the near future, leaders will need to make difficult decisions that balance economic and social sustainability and begin discussions about what the next normal could entail. 

Much of the population today will experience uncertainty and financial stress, as new social customs and mandates shape the new normal for people who have spent weeks or months in isolation.  

On to the Next Normal

As we continue to engender in the weeks and months ahead, we should feel compelled to reflect on this health crisis from both an economical and social order.

Albeit the betterment of public health and society, a substantial uplift to economic and social welfare might also provide an opportunity to navigate the path preceding the pandemic. 

Getty Images

But policymaking is going to be a challenge when scientists are struggling to understand this new virus.

Many consequential decisions have been made within a very short period of time, with not a lot of data and information on hand. These are important decisions that impact people’s lives. 

What will it take to navigate this crisis? Why hadn’t we acted earlier to prevent the outbreak? Why have we allowed such poor conditions to linger? 

There are so many questions we can ask ourselves and our leaders as we ponder how we could’ve better handled the pandemic.

But for now, the focus is on the health of people. Eventually, there will come a time to look back properly and follow up on the lessons learned. 



Your subscription has now been confirmed. We look forward to keeping you up to date on the latest news around sustainable development in your chosen fields.