This letter has been written as part of the Financial Times’ ‘Letters to the New World’ brand campaign, which calls on those in our global community to inspire each other around what this new world should and could look like

Expect the unexpected. Promote resilience. Protect the weak. Co-operate globally. These are the four clear lessons of the global financial crisis and Covid-19 pandemic, the two big shocks of the 21st century.

Any of the things we can imagine — pandemics, natural disasters, political upheavals, wars, devastating terrorism, financial crises — might happen.

Other lessons can be learned: the people who suffered most from the financial crisis were not those who caused it; and the people who have been most damaged by the pandemic are not the ones who mismanaged it. Disaster always hits unevenly, across both countries and people.

The immediate economic challenge is to emerge from the pandemic as strongly as possible. Necessary conditions are sustained fiscal and monetary support in the high-income economies, an accelerated global vaccination programme and powerful assistance to emerging and developing countries.

In the longer term, we can see clear domestic and global priorities for high-income countries. The most important domestic economic goals should be to curb monopoly, accelerate innovation, spread opportunity and ensure more equitable distribution of the fruits of economic growth.

In the modern era, no country is an island. We share an interdependent world economy and a vulnerable planet. The global reach of the pandemic has reminded us of these realities. We need to intensify co-operation in protecting the environment, promoting longer-term economic development, maintaining an open world economy and securing peace. 

Ours is a fragile world. After the last year and a half, we know it. We must not forget it.

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