Recovery, Renewal, Resilience

Lessons for Resilience

Consider the role of new educational models after COVID-19
Education and skills

During COVID-19, schools were forced to move to remote delivery of teaching. The Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) note that high levels of pre-existing inequalities (e.g. poverty) have exacerbated the negative impacts of the pandemic on children’s education. The World Bank report predicts that the “shock on human capital will substantially reduce intergenerational mobility and the likelihood of children from low educated families to complete secondary school”. The bank also presents a call to action to address the significant learning loss experienced by Latin American and Caribbean children. As countries are transitioning back to face-to-face or to more hybrid styles of education delivery, consider:

  • Work in partnership with schools, community groups (e.g. parental committees) and local social care services to identify vulnerable children and develop targeted measures (e.g. through remedial programmes) to ensure that schools are teaching at an appropriate level for all children. Specifically take into account the learning needs of children from lower-income families who may not have had the resources at home to keep up with remote learning measures
    • For example, ‘Alerta Escuela’, Peru uses early warning systems to identify students who are at risk of dropping out or who are in need of targeted interventions
  • Guide and support schools on how best to combine remote and in-person learning (e.g. the Ceibal initiative in Uruguay). To increase accessibility, blended learning recovery solutions should consider low- or no-tech options (e.g. educational TV programmes/local radio/community youth groups)
  • Design a long-term transformational plan for accelerating the digital transformation of local and national Education Management and Information Systems (EMIS), for example:
    • The World Bank is collaborating with education agencies to establish a “new generation of EMIS based on an enterprise architecture focusing on learning data”. The programme will collate best practices, tools and guidance that aim to enable education agencies to implement technology-driven solutions that accelerate cost effective educational programmes and generate high investment returns

See also TMB Issue 33 – a case study which explores the “attainment gap” and digital divide, detailing international strategies that aim to support children to catch up on learning time lost during the pandemic

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Consider how to invest in a circular economy to promote healthier, more resilient cities
Economic strategy

Alongside the health and environmental risks, COVID-19 has exposed the vulnerability of current economic models. Circular economies are those that produce significantly reduced waste with the aim of producing zero through sharing, reusing and recycling products and byproducts - and the circular economy is becoming increasingly relevant during COVID-19. Consider:

  • Developing more 'pay for service' models that do not require people to own goods in times of financial uncertainty e.g. using launderettes rather than having the burden of owning a washing machine provides alternatives to manage consumption, either by reducing expenditure, or opting for the basic alternative. These can be designed to support social distancing and COVID-19 measures
  • Redefining and classifying what is considered essential if resources are limited or strained in order to prioritise needs. The circular economy may require redefining and rethinking the importance of certain roles, tasks, products and services e.g. the shift in perceptions of those in retail or waste management have been classified as essential workers
  • Focus on local supply chains. Local supply chains can be more environmentally friendly and can also be more secure. De-globalization is a clear post COVID-19 trend. World trade is expected to contract between 13% and 32% in 2020, which indicates reliance on international supply chains may be seen as riskier than sourcing products and components locally
  • Incentivize businesses, big and small, to become part of the circular economy e.g. encouraging businesses to take more responsibility for providing reusable facemasks to their staff, or supporting projects which aim to clean up and protect ecosystems from plastic waste such as disposable gloves and masks
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Consider how to reduce information asymmetry in food systems through digital innovation
Supply chain and logistics

Information asymmetry means that one party has more or better information than the other. During COVID-19 information asymmetry has led to food waste and unsustainable farming practices as information about food production is only available to a small number of people in the supply chain. Decentralised information that includes small-scale and flexible production can support more uncertain operating environments such as those needed during COVID-19. Producers and retailers can consider how to increase the flexibility and sustainability of their supply chains by:

  • De-concentrating markets and supply chains by ensuring they are not concentrated in a small number of large companies by using online platforms that create more access for businesses to sell goods and provide producers and consumers more options:
    • In Peru, 80% of merchants at a major market tested positive for COVID-19, but authorities felt closing the market would result in significant food shortages as the supply was concentrated. However in India, by selling through digital platforms, coffee producers were able to keep selling, and obtain significantly higher prices than usual
  • Tracing food throughout the supply chain in a decentralized manner creates opportunities for safer, more sustainable food to protect from zoonotic disease:
    • In Uruguay, foot and mouth transmission was mitigated through de-centralized information sharing where the system would assign an identification code to cattle, letting you know its treatment and location on the production chain in real time
  • Disseminating open data throughout the complex food system to: correct information asymmetries, encourage innovation, and increase efficiency of public spending
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