UNIGE-UZH Side event at the UNECE Regional Forum on Sustainable Development

Leading experts from the public and private sector analysed the current crisis and discuss how to brace for future shocks. 

Key take-aways from the roundtable discussion held on 17th March:

  • To be resilient to a crisis, a society must keep in balance the three dimensions of sustainable development: environmental responsibility, social solidarity and economic performance. (Mr. Jacques Ducrest)
  • At the beginning of the pandemic, international trade was seen as part of the problem, because the lockdown in China severely disrupted global value chains. It turned out, however, that international trade was really part of the solution, because it gave countries access to the goods they needed most. (Prof. Ralph Ossa)
  • Climate, biodiversity and health shocks are non-natural and predicted to become more frequent, intense and coupled, with potential cascading effects through the whole of society. These non-natural events are likely to challenge society's ability to cope, so anticipating shocks through improved information and knowledge flows, changes in choices and behaviors on how humans-nature are interacting, and enhanced and enlarged response strategies are necessary for the resilience of our society. (Prof. Maria Santos)
  • Our success in mitigating risk and building resilience depends on how closely we coordinate across public, private and academic sectors. We have an obligation to come together to work towards building global resilience where those who "have" help support those who "have not". Each of us must contribute what we can to build global resilience e.g. data, modelling, risk capacity, expertise and resources. (Dr. Amanda Hosken)
  • We must actively work together across the public and private sector to proactively address risks e.g. climate change and pandemics to build resilience against the risk, we must act now before the next crisis e.g. understanding the risks across climate, economy, health and  environmental risks and putting in place strategies to mitigate now e.g. CO2 reduction plans, wellness programs within insurance to support long term health and affordable cover for all, risk capacity to cover damage from disasters and programs to share the cost of prevention and protection across public and private sector through joint funds. (Dr. Amanda Hosken)
  • Our societies must prepare for all types of unknowns: the ones we can anticipate and the ones we cannot anticipate (Dr. Quentin Ladetto)
  • Resilience comes with a cost: the cost of preparation and anticipation. That cost is normally much lower than the cost of the consequences of not being resilient. ((Dr. Quentin Ladetto)
  • The COVID-19 pandemic should mark the beginning of a new era where a human rights-based approach (HRBA) is neither recommended nor hoped for, but is an obligation when developing immediate as well as long-term responses to public health crises. Human rights should form the basis for the reconstruction of resilient societies in the post-COVID-19 era. (Prof. Stéphanie Dagron)
  • The success of the implementation of an HRBA is however, largely conditioned on the realisation of a number of efforts.
  1. First, there is a need for a coherent (institutional) response from the part of all international, regional and national authorities. All UN agencies, intergovernmental organisations, national governments and non-state actors engaged in the realisation of the 2030 Agenda - considered as instrumental for the development of resilient societies - should adopt a human rights-based strategy as a framework for their activities
  2. Second, efforts must be made to compensate for the lack of human rights-based guidance for states to prepare for a future crisis of the breadth and intensity of COVID-19. Emphasis has to be put not solely on the technical preparation of states for future outbreaks but on human rights protection and socio-economic resilience of societies. Attention for the protection and promotion of social and economic rights more specifically will undoubtedly facilitate a more rapid and sustainable recovery. (Prof. Stéphanie Dagron)
About the speakers

Prof. Dr. Stéphanie Dagron, Professor of Law, University of Geneva

Mr. Jacques Ducrest, Deputy Head of the Sectoral Foreign Policies Division, Federal Department of Foreign Affairs

Dr. Amanda Hosken, Global Head Life and Health Solutions, SwissRe

Dr. Quentin Ladetto, Research Director, armasuisse

Prof. Dr. Ralph Ossa, Chairman of the Department of Economics, University of Zurich

Prof. Dr. Maria J. Santos, Professor in Earth System Science, Department of Geography, University of Zurich

Mr. Alois Zwinggi, Chair Innovation Council, Innosuisse AG, Member of the Managing Board, World Economic Forum