The fight against COVID-19 has been the greatest challenge the world has faced since the middle of last century. As countries have fought to control the disease, they have closed borders, quarantined their citizens, and shut down economies almost entirely. The ramifications will reverberate for years, if not decades, to come.
In April 2020, the Lowy Institute published a digital feature in which twelve Institute experts examined the ways in which the COVID crisis would affect Australia, the region and the world. In this digital feature, Lowy Institute experts provide policy recommendations for Australia to address issues that are critical to our nation’s — and the world’s — successful emergence from the pandemic.
Countries have turned inwards in an attempt to fend off the threat of an infection that is oblivious to borders. Some have seen globalisation as the cause of the crisis, and have focused on solving problems without recourse to the international institutions of global security and prosperity, including the United Nations, the World Health Organization, and the G20. Yet global problems require international solutions.
As the world emerges from the crisis, cooperation between nations will be more important than ever. Nation states cannot revive their economies purely through national solutions. They cannot address global threats, including the possibility of further pandemics, alone.
Australia’s achievements in managing the COVID crisis have been exemplary. It has handled the health and economic emergency with great competence. But this is just the beginning of our crisis recovery. The challenges in our region, and the global problems that existed before COVID, have only been exacerbated by the pandemic.
Australia has already done much to address the domestic economic and health issues from the COVID crisis. But to shape a prosperous and secure future, it will also need to work in cooperation with other nations, large and small, allies and partners, on a much broader array of international issues ranging from the economic disruption across the region, pressure from China on trade, and development challenges in the Pacific, to increasingly competitive relations between the United States and China, the weakening of the World Health Organization, and the declining utility of the G20.