This week in Say More, PS talks with Saadia Zahidi, Managing Director and Head of the Center for the New Economy and Society at the World Economic Forum.
Project Syndicate: In June 2020, you heralded the arrival of “an era of bigger – and perhaps bolder – government” policies in the wake of their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. More than two years later, do you think the pandemic’s potential to catalyze a “Great Reset” – closer “collaboration between businesses, public and government institutions, and workers” – has been realized, wasted, or something in between? What else can be done to accelerate it?
Saadia Zahidi: Government spending over the last two years has been higher than before the pandemic, owing to the need to support households and businesses. But it has not always been accompanied by visionary thinking about how public resources can best be used to build resilience and open new growth paths for the future. Some countries have made investments in green-transition (decarbonization) strategies and traditional infrastructure, but few have invested in transforming their social infrastructure, even though the pandemic exposed weaknesses in social safety nets and across the care, health, and education sectors.
In a rapidly evolving job market, much bolder action could be brought to bear to improve human-capital development, including upskilling and support for job transitions through collaboration between government, business, and workers. This mindset of investing in the future – even in the face of short-term crises – will determine the long-term systemic health of our societies for generations to come.
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