Prince Charles calls on world leaders to learn from the coronavirus outbreak: 'We simply can’t waste more time'

·Royal Correspondent
Prince Charles speaking at the World Economic Forum in January. (Getty Images)
Prince Charles speaking at the World Economic Forum in January. (Getty Images)

Prince Charles has launched a project to urge world leaders to forge a more sustainable future and put nature at the heart after the coronavirus outbreak.

Called The Great Reset, the heir to the throne has joined with the World Economic Forum (WEF) to call for changes in economic and social systems to make them fairer and more resilient.

The Great Reset will be the theme of a twin summit held by WEF in January 2021.

Charles, 71, is a decades-long campaigner in the environmental field, first speaking about the problems of plastic more than 50 years ago.

On the launch, he said: “In order to secure our future and to prosper, we need to evolve our economic model and put people and planet at the heart of global value creation. If there is one critical lesson to learn from this crisis, it is that we need to put nature at the heart of how we operate.

“We simply can’t waste more time.”

Prince Charles before a Sustainability Leadership Roundtable in Sydney. (Getty Images)
Prince Charles before a Sustainability Leadership Roundtable in Sydney. (Getty Images)

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Speaking via video call from his home in Scotland, Charles 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.”

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Professor Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the WEF, wrote that the changes seen around the world because of COVID-19 is proof that change can be enacted.

He said: “The world must act jointly and swiftly to revamp all aspects of our societies and economies, from education to social contracts and working conditions. Every country, from the United States to China, must participate, and every industry, from oil and gas to tech, must be transformed. In short, we need a ‘Great Reset’ of capitalism.”

Prof Schwab added that mounting debt and unemployment would “exacerbate the climate and social crises” which the world was already facing before the pandemic took over.

Prince Charles speaks during a meeting of business leaders to discuss the role of plastics in the economy. (Getty Images)
Prince Charles speaks during a meeting of business leaders to discuss the role of plastics in the economy. (Getty Images)

He said: “The COVID-19 crisis is affecting every facet of people’s lives in every corner of the world. But tragedy need not be its only legacy.

“On the contrary, the pandemic represents a rare but narrow window of opportunity to reflect, reimagine, and reset our world to create a healthier, more equitable, and more prosperous future.”

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Announcing the programme on Twitter, Clarence House wrote: “In January this year, The Prince launched his Sustainable Markets Initiative at Davos, which calls on communities, businesses, investors and consumers to take the urgent and practical steps required to transition to more sustainable practices.

“For over fifty years, His Royal Highness has promoted action for a sustainable future to ensure that the natural assets can endure for future generations.

“HRH continues to help raise public awareness about sustainability challenges and solutions. #TheGreatReset aims to rebuild, redesign, reinvigorate and rebalance our world in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.”

The summit next year will draw on the thoughts and ideas of thousands of young people, who will meet in more than 400 cities around the world.

The announcement was made on Wednesday, and followed by a virtual meeting with statements from other supporters, including UN Secretary-General António Guterres and IMF Managing Director Kristalina Georgieva.