A sustainable world after the corona crisis is not possible if we forget the low-income countries, writes Beatrice Hugosson. Photo: Carl Campbell (CC BY 2.0).


Do not forget poor countries during the corona crisis!

Lately we have been able to see actors from the business community, politicians and researchers debate what measures are needed to build a sustainable society after the corona crisis. To try to understand how it should go, I participated in one webbinarium organized by the research program Mistra Geopolitics. 

The discussions focused - as in many other places in society right now - mainly on how high-income countries can prepare for future crises. In the end, a question was answered briefly about how rich countries can help low-income countries not to abandon environmental work after the corona crisis. 

This one-sided focus on high-income countries is a recurring phenomenon. It is also noticeable in competition on medical equipment in the global market, where low-income countries are losing to the EU and the US. It is understandable that rich countries prioritize their own citizens because they are currently being hit hard, but more long-term, preventive and inclusive action is also needed.

Overlooking how low-income countries will be affected when the coronavirus reaches a more critical phase can cost global sustainability work a lot. In a new rapport Oxfam concludes that half a billion people could be forced into poverty in the suites of the coronavirus - unless world leaders develop a so-called "economic rescue package for all". The economic progress made in the Middle East and most of Africa over the last 30 years risks being blurred. UN Secretary-General António Guterres urges high-income countries to provide "maximum financial and technical support to the poorest and most vulnerable people and countries". 

Although EU secured EUR 15,6 billion in financial support and World Bank established a fast track to a financing package to meet the needs of low-income countries in the crisis, this is not enough. The conditions that we in Sweden take for granted - such as free health and medical care and secure energy supply - are crucial for the fight against pandemics. Many low-income countries do not have access to this, which means that they are hit harder. That is why Sweden as a high-income country and part of the global society must take greater responsibility - especially during international crises such as this.

This is a chronicle. The author is responsible for analysis and opinions in the text.

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