Eurasia Group | Recap: Virtual GZERO Summit forecasts a post-Covid future

Recap: Virtual GZERO Summit forecasts a post-Covid future

16 December 2020
Eurasia Group's 2020 GZERO Summit.
Each year, Eurasia Group's GZERO Summit brings together hundreds of participants and top global speakers and business leaders for wide-ranging discussions on the preeminent issues shaping our leaderless GZERO world. With coronavirus preventing an in-person gathering this year, Eurasia Group hosted its first-ever virtual GZERO Summit to explore the unique risks and opportunities Covid-19 has revealed across the geopolitical landscape ... and consider what life will look like after the pandemic.

Some key summit takeaways:
  • Post-Covid Geopolitics: While the US has demonstrated leadership in vaccine production, its overall management of the pandemic has been a failure. President-elect Joe Biden will have an ambitious foreign policy agenda, but it may be severely limited by a Republican-controlled Senate, while Americans' distaste for globalism won't depart with Donald Trump. China managed economic growth in an otherwise dismal environment, but much of the rest of the world mistrusts Beijing after its response to Covid-19. Under new Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide, Japan remains a key force in Asia and will look for opportunities to partner with the US under Biden. That said, Japan has learned that it can't rely on the US alone when confronted by China.
  • Fight Against Covid-19: As Covid-19's fallout has spread, so too have the scientific developments to confront the virus. The Pfizer and BioNTech vaccine is a landmark achievement; next comes getting everyone to buy in and understand that vaccines work, an easier task in Japan than elsewhere. This will require support from both the public and private sectors. Further challenges will come in ensuring that people in the developing world are not left behind and have equal access to the vaccine. This discussion was bolstered by the news about new research from Eurasia Group and sponsored by the Gates Foundation that supports both the global health outcome and the economic case for funding a global approach to vaccine distribution.
  • Geo-Technology: Many once welcomed China's rise. Now, Beijing and Washington are locked in what some see as a Geo-Tech Cold War, and the rest of the world—including Japan—will need to pick a side when it comes to AI, data, and 5G. Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt sees the US-China relationship as one of stable tension, with each side racing to outperform the other. Though China has adopted a clear strategy in this race, the US lacks a clear and coordinated approach. Ultimately, the tech future will be owned by a small number of large, highly organized players in the two competing countries. Under Biden, the US will return to a multilateral strategy in confronting this challenge.
  • Sustainability: The forced slowdown of global economic activity from the coronavirus pandemic has slashed carbon emissions around the world, opening a unique opportunity to make real progress in the fight against climate change. But there is a fear it won't be enough, and the world will go back to its old ways after Covid-19. Yet many of the lessons learned from battling Covid-19 can be applied to the struggle against climate change. Indeed, the pandemic is an opportunity to entirely transform economies like Japan's, which recently committed to producing net zero carbon emissions by 2050 under new Prime Minister Suga Yoshihide.
GZERO Summit 2020 included: Thanks to all the partners, speakers, and attendees who made the GZERO Summit 2020 a success. We look forward to gathering with you in person in 2021.
LOUD WORLD. CLEAR SIGNAL. Signal is a newsletter on international affairs published four times a week by GZERO Media, a Eurasia Group company.