Reviving global cooperation in challenging times

A submission to the China Development Forum 2020

The world is currently facing two crises of potentially immense proportions: COVID-19 and climate change. The response to both must be global, urgent and on great scale, argue the authors of this paper, as they outline the key role that a sustainable recovery, designed to drive towards transformative growth, could play in creating a new form of development.

The paper sets out the central elements of a response in terms of the necessary investment in physical, human and natural capital, and the policies and institutions that could realise these investments. While recognising that the process must be both multinational and national, the focus in this paper is on the multinational side. The final section covers China and its role and contributions.

Summary points

  • The two crises of COVID-19 and climate change are global and cannot be tackled effectively – separately or together – without international cooperation.
  • The changes that are necessary to the world economy to avoid crises of similar intensity in the future and to realise a new form of growth and development must have multilateral action at their core.
  • Something like a global Marshall Plan is needed, to raise investment across the world and make it sustainable.
  • However, there are fundamental differences between the world today and at the end of the Second World War and so the recovery and reconstruction programmes must reflect these elements; for example, the private sector is the key driver of much of investment; we will need investment in human and natural capital as well as physical; we have a transformed technology; and the world is much more integrated.
  • China is a major player in this new world on all the relevant dimensions. It has a key role in a sustainable recovery and transforming growth. Within the G20, China will be a leader through its national actions, its work with its partners, including in the Belt and Road Initiative, and through its involvements in international groups and institutions.
  • This coming decade, 2020–2030, is of fundamental importance to human history. If we lock in dirty and high-carbon capital, we will head for profound and irreversible damage to our climate. China’s 14th and 15th Five-Year Plans will shape the future of the world.