The Prince of Wales has warned that the world has a one-off “golden opportunity” to seize something good from the coronavirus pandemic as he launched The Great Reset project.
Heir to the throne Charles joined the World Economic Forum’s virtual Covid Action Platform meeting to unveil the initiative, which is designed to ensure businesses “build back better” as they begin to recover from the crisis.
The prince, who has been championing environmental causes for decades, stressed the need not to miss the chance for a green recovery and a more sustainable future, urging people to “think big and act now”.
Charles, in a video call from his Scottish home Birkhall, said: “We have a golden opportunity to seize something good from this crisis.
“Its unprecedented shockwaves may well make people more receptive to big visions of change, and global crises like pandemics and climate change know no borders, and highlight just how interdependent we are as one people sharing one planet.
“Over the past month or so, despite the ongoing crisis, I’ve been encouraged to see the growing calls for a green recovery.”
He added: “As we move from rescue to recovery, therefore, we have a unique but rapidly shrinking window of opportunity to learn lessons and reset ourselves on a more sustainable path.
“It is an opportunity we have never had before and may never have again.
“So we must use all the levers we have at our disposal, knowing that each and every one of us has a vital role to play.”
Clarence House said The Great Reset has been designed as “an urgent call to action with a vision to reimagine, rebuild, redesign, reinvigorate and rebalance the world” and will serve as a global hub for “thought leadership and practical solutions”.
Charles, who also reiterated his previous call to treat the planet as a patient, continued: “Everything I’ve tried to do over the past 50 years has been done with our children and grandchildren in mind.
“So I can only encourage us all to think big and act now.”
The prince added: “I can only hope that as this current crisis passes, we are able to reflect on, and shape, the type of world we want for ourselves and for future generations.”
Charles listened as Professor Klaus Schwab, executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, called for a new social contract and warned against ignoring racism.
Prof Schwab’s comments came amid the global outrage following the death of George Floyd, a black man who died after being restrained by a white police officer in the US.
Footage of protests sparked by Mr Floyd’s death appeared in a video setting out the initiative.
Prof Schwab said the coronavirus crisis had exposed the fundamental lack of social cohesion, fairness, inclusion, and equality.
“We have a choice to remain passive, which would lead to the amplification of many of the trends we see today – polarisation, nationalism, racism, and ultimately increased social unrest and conflicts,” he said.
“But we have another choice. We can build a new social contract, particularly integrating the next generation. We can change our behaviour to be in harmony with nature again… In short, we need a Great Reset.
“We have to mobilise all constituents of our global society to work together.”
After listening to some of the discussions, the prince said there was no alternative to building a greener, more inclusive society.
Charles said: “We have no alternative because otherwise, unless we take the action necessary, and we build again in a greener and more sustainable and more inclusive way, then we will end up having more and more pandemics and more and more disasters from ever-accelerating global warming and climate change.
“So, this is the one moment, as you’ve all been saying, when we have to make as much progress as we can.”
The Great Reset, spearheaded by The Prince of Wales’s Sustainable Markets Initiative in partnership with World Economic Forum, aims to encourage a commitment to build an economic and social system for a fairer and more sustainable, resilient future.
It will be the focus of the forum’s summit in January 2021 – held in Davos and virtually – which will bring together governments, businesses and civil society leaders.
Isabella O’Dowd, climate change specialist at the conservation organisation WWF, welcomed the initiative.
“We have the chance to lead a global charge to protect both the planet and our economy, and we must take it,” she said.
She added: “By investing in a future where we halt our contributions to the climate crisis, the UK could support at least 210,000 green jobs across the country by 2030, and bring benefits of £90 billion a year to the economy.”