Clearly, the will to build a better society does exist. We must use it to secure the Great Reset that we so badly need. That will require stronger and more effective governments, though this does not imply an ideological push for bigger ones. And it will demand private-sector engagement every step of the way.
The Great Reset agenda would have three main components. The first would steer the market toward fairer outcomes. To this end, governments should improve coordination (for example, in tax, regulatory, and fiscal policy), upgrade trade arrangements, and create the conditions for a “stakeholder economy.” At a time of diminishing tax bases and soaring public debt, governments have a powerful incentive to pursue such action.
Moreover, governments should implement long-overdue reforms that promote more equitable outcomes. Depending on the country, these may include changes to wealth taxes, the withdrawal of fossil-fuel subsidies, and new rules governing intellectual property, trade, and competition.
The second component of a Great Reset agenda would ensure that investments advance shared goals, such as equality and sustainability. Here, the large-scale spending programs that many governments are implementing represent a major opportunity for progress. The European Commission, for one, has unveiled plans for a €750 billion ($826 billion) recovery fund. The US, China, and Japan also have ambitious economic-stimulus plans.
Rather than using these funds, as well as investments from private entities and pension funds, to fill cracks in the old system, we should use them to create a new one that is more resilient, equitable, and sustainable in the long run. This means, for example, building “green” urban infrastructure and creating incentives for industries to improve their track record on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) metrics.
The third and final priority of a Great Reset agenda is to harness the innovations of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to support the public good, especially by addressing health and social challenges. During the COVID-19 crisis, companies, universities, and others have joined forces to develop diagnostics, therapeutics, and possible vaccines; establish testing centers; create mechanisms for tracing infections; and deliver telemedicine. Imagine what could be possible if similar concerted efforts were made in every sector.
The COVID-19 crisis is affecting every facet of people’s lives in every corner of the world. But tragedy need not be its only legacy. On the contrary, the pandemic represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world to create a healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous future.