COVID19 confirms that greater global and domestic governance is required. This pandemic has revealed profound problems in existing institutions at the supranational and regional levels, as well as within countries. While policies need to be designed and implemented at the national level, for global problems, there is a need for greater cooperation between countries. COVID-19 shows the disproportionate and inconsistent nature of isolationist policies when the natural world ignores artificial boundaries. The pandemic seems to have advanced the collapse of global governance, which has been much discussed in recent years.
COVID-19 has caused? major disruptions in Canada’s economic, social, technical and competitive business environments. While Canadian governments were generally in a strong position to survive the crisis, businesses and industries which have been relatively uncompetitive are highly at risk. Changes that were expected to take decades have been accelerated.
Multi-stakeholder governance is an alternative to address the challenges brought about by the pandemic. The collective participation of diverse actors, such as national and sub-national governments, governmental and non-governmental actors, universities, civil society, and businesses groups, is crucial in this process. Similarly, specific actions to deal with these challenges are needed with the participation of such actors,through programs and international cooperation schemes, thus generating a multi-stakeholder governance.
COVID-19 has created a unique opportunity for scientists and experts to participate in decision-making processes under the need of the pandemic emergency and to create forms of collaboration between the “triple helix:” government, university, and business. With this, we have managed to take a step forward towards necessary collaborative governance among the stakeholders.
We consider that multi-stakeholder governance can be turned into a series of proposals to meet the challenges of COVID-19 in the form of public policies. The role of universities, business groups and subnational actors will be very relevant regarding the development of proposals to face the challenges generated by COVID-19 in Canada, the United States and Mexico. Governments, businesses and scientific/academic communities might play an important role in providing information, as well as in developing solutions and shaping public policy. By observing the comparisons between the three countries, we can demonstrate how the scientific community may play a greater role.
We consider that multi-stakeholder governance can be turned into a series of proposals to meet the challenges of COVID-19 in the form of public policies. The role of universities and the academic community, as well as subnational actors (Canadian provinces, United States and Mexican states) will be very relevant in facing the challenges generated by COVID-19. While not directly related to COVID-19, the pandemic might open a strategic window of collaboration in the following issues:
- The manufacturing industry has declined in Canada. Mexico is a powerhouse due to labour savings. Science can help to advance towards quality and flexibility.
- Food production is a staple of Canada’s economy. As global competition rises, science must play a role in alternatives, food safety and cost savings.
- The energy sector is shifting towards renewables. Canadian governments have been in conflict over environmental vs. economic interests. Industry and sub-level governments focus on the short term;science can help to identify transitions and solutions which do not pit stakeholders against each other.
Greater collaboration is needed among all stakeholders. Intellectual property laws and competition are barriers and government policy may have an impact through focused funding and resources.
In 2020 more than ever, Canadian governments demonstrate an openness to all stakeholders as we deal with the uncertainties of a global crisis. CSPC can play a central role in identifying priorities and opportunities, building communities of collaboration, and developing science-based solutions which will benefit Canadian governments, business and people. Through these efforts, the scientific and academic communities can establish an enduring role as partners with government and business.