Vulnerability and resilience

The COVID-19 pandemic is having major social, political and economic consequences and we will continue feeling these effects for some time to come. In the long term there is a strong likelihood that the crisis will lead to changes in the way we view the world and in the choices we make as a society. Dutch society now faces the challenges of building on what has gone well, learning lessons where improvements are possible, and responding
to the changes that are coming down the line.

In this report, the WRR provides suggestions and ideas for the government and for parliament as they tackle the consequences of the coronavirus outbreak in the Netherlands. Although many things have gone well in this country during the current crisis, the pandemic has also revealed a number of important vulnerabilities. As we will point out, the economic and health risks are falling disproportionately on people who are already in a difficult situation, business has found it hard to absorb the shock of this crisis, globalization has proven to be fragile, and international cooperation has been difficult.

Based on our publications in recent years, we present a number of policy principles that could help us to address these vulnerabilities. This includes strengthening the knowledge and capacity available within government, changes to the flexible labour market and social security, better embedding corporations in society, more effective management of accelerating digitization, and greater resilience to disruptions at the international level.

This is a crucial task for the government: it must strengthen the resilience of our society, so that we can both recover from the current crisis and be better prepared for the changes that are to come. But the government cannot do this alone: this is also a collective responsibility for citizens, companies and civil society organizations. Moreover, the Netherlands cannot do this alone: international coordination and solidarity will be vital. This cannot be taken for granted, because enhancing our resilience requires willingness on the part of individuals, companies, organizations and countries to sacrifice their own interests for the sake of the collective interest.