FinTech and digital technologies have been used by governments across the world to deliver services to help individuals and companies cope with the disruption created by the pandemic.
In the latest Manchester Briefing, a monthly document aimed at those who plan and implement Recovery and Renewal from COVID-19, the increasing digitization of our everyday lives comes under the spotlight in a special report written by Fábio M.V. Sousa from the University of Manchester and the Manchester Briefing Team.
The report says that given the potential usefulness of these digital tools during the pandemic, governments now need to consider the challenges and risks associated with them, while also looking at their wider investment in mobile broadband infrastructure expansion and digital identification.
For example, Portugal is planning investments in digital transition worth around €578m which includes expanding the digital presence and capabilities of courts, business registers, schools, and public services as part its recovery and resilience programme.
The report also discusses how governments will increasingly need to collaborate with FinTech companies to develop ways to increase financial inclusion, streamline application processes, and increase transparency and compliance with regulations.
Elsewhere in the latest Briefing there is also a report on the role of new educational models after COVID-19 after schools were forced to move to remote delivery of teaching during the height of the crisis.
For instance a World Bank report on the situation in Latin America predicts that the pandemic will substantially reduce intergenerational mobility and the likelihood of children from low educated families completing secondary school.
As countries transition back to face-to-face or to more hybrid styles of education delivery, it says governments need to work in partnership with schools, community groups and local social care services to identify vulnerable children and develop targeted measures to ensure that schools are teaching at an appropriate level for all children.
The Briefing also consider lessons learned from previous crises for COVID-19 recovery and renewal. COVID-19 differs from previous crises in terms of its scale, complexity and prolonged nature, and the fragilities that it has exposed. Yet, the disruptions and losses experienced are broadly similar to those brought about by other recent major emergencies.
The Briefing consider the lessons learned from previous disaster recovery efforts that aim to “promote longer-term, integrated thinking and planning, to create pathways out of the pandemic that more effectively support recovery” and renewal.
A report looks at the long-term needs of recovery and renewal and acknowledges that the impacts of the pandemic are not static and will not end on a particular date. Therefore a flexible and adaptable approach is needed to support longer-term activities that can change where and when required.
Governments and agencies also need to target the most vulnerable and marginalised sectors of the population given the uneven impacts of the pandemic and response strategies. And they need to understand recovery and renewal as a holistic process that focuses on the impacts of COVID-19 on the economic, social, and mental wellbeing of communities.
The Briefing also considers recovery and renewal initiatives that align agriculture with Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Food security and nutrition are challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic, and as the world recovers from the crisis there is an opportunity to reform agricultural production in line with the SDGs. One of the challenges for such reforms is funding them, given that post-COVID-19 economies have high levels of fiscal debt.
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